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Early Literacy Activities for Toddlers

By Shelley Frost ; Updated June 13, 2017

Early literacy skills prepare children for the actual process of learning to read and write. The experiences a toddler has with written words shapes her attitude toward reading and writing when she reaches school. Take a positive, interactive approach with books and writing from a young age to encourage your child's appreciation of and confidence in literacy.

Literacy Games

Games related to stories you read enhance the literacy experience of toddlers. Ask your toddler to point out particular letters in a book as you read or on signs as you walk around the community. For older toddlers, look for rhyming words or similar sounds in different words. Draw pictures of events that happened in the story and ask your toddler to put them in the correct order. Look for objects around the house that relate to the story. For example, if you read an animal book, look for stuffed animals that match the animals in the story.


Storytelling encourages your toddler's imagination while helping him develop a sense of story. Regular reading sessions with your child give him an idea of how stories work. Expand on those reading experiences to let your child create his own stories. For a simple start in storytelling, encourage your child to make up a new story for a character in a favorite story. Another option is to start the story and encourage your child to jump in to develop it further.

Homemade Books

A homemade book project puts your toddler in charge of the book's content. This activity combines both writing and books to capture the main components of literacy. A simple book takes only a few pieces of paper folded and stapled or otherwise bound along the fold. Let your child draw pictures or use magazine pictures to illustrate the book. Encourage her to "write" words by scribbling or forming some letters. To encourage her concept of story, ask your child to narrate her book as you record the story. Read the book together during your normal reading time.


Keep books accessible to your toddler at all times. A small bookshelf in his room or in a family area of the home keeps him exposed to books at all times. Make trips to the library a regular occurrence for your family. Take your time at the library, focusing on making it a positive experience for your young child. Encourage all interactions with books unless they are destructive. The way you approach books and reading with your child affects his attitude. For example, if you make reading a serious activity without encouraging questioning and entertainment, your child may develop a negative attitude toward literacy.

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