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10 Positive Steps for Creating Early Readers and Talkers in Children

Updated on September 24, 2013

Many years ago.


This article is dedicated to my friend and fellow writer, known as GMWILLIAMS. Her words of encouragement are the inspiration for this article!

When you teach a child to speak, they become their own voice!

How does someone preparing to bring a child in the world adorn them with the skills and knowledge for attaining early literacy and communication skills?

Never having children before, my maternal instincts were pushed in to full gear upon the news that I was expecting!

Having a baby changed my world in a profound way! Those pregnancy months became the most powerful days to the nurturing of my unborn baby.

Gearing up with a new headset and CD player, I purchased classical music, Beethoven, Mozart, and others. I played music aloud in my home and in the car. Not for the benefit of my own, but for my child. A child I would be bringing in to this world that I wanted to prepare for her first day of life.

1. Prepare your unborn child for entry in to the world through music and language.

Music plays a crucial role to the development of babies even in the womb.

Some experts say babies can hear in the womb as early as 18 weeks into pregnancy. Other medical professionals say babies can hear the last three months of pregnancy. Regardless, whether which opinion is correct or not, the fact is babies can and do hear inside the womb while they are growing and preparing to be born.

What you do for your unborn child will translate in to a world of opportunity when applying a basic foundation for your child to expand and build upon.

How to prepare for your new child through sound.
Find soothing music on CDs or a radio you have in your home. Play it often.
It's proven that babies react in the womb to loud noises. Try to keep a soft tone to create a nurturing soothing background.
Help your baby enter the world feeling calm like the soothing sound of the music.
Talk to your unborn baby often. Every day. Every moment. Talk to the baby as often as you breathe.
Tell the baby in positive words how much you love the fact that you are going to be a mom. Dads can participate in this as well!
Use a sweet voice and speak clearly as if you were talking directly to another person in the room.
Try to remain peaceful during your pregnancy and avoid heavy stress.
Help your baby feel at ease by resting often.
Put priority on happiness.

2. Read to your unborn child in the womb.

Besides music and speaking to your child often, reading out loud to your child has shown significant association with children whom are early readers.

Not only that but your child will learn voice recognition. It is beneficial to have other family members talk to you often during the development of your child in your womb.

Another benefit of starting to read to your child in the womb is creating a routine. When you start early in anticipation of your baby's birth, your routine will be well established after the arrival of your newborn child.

Books to purchase for a home library.
Dr. Seuss
Golden Books
Nursery Rhymes
Children's books with colorful illustrations
Children's Classics
Winnie the Pooh
Beatrix Potter
Here are just a few suggestions.

3. Create a home library.

There are many ways to find books to read to your child.

  • Look around and see what you already have on hand.
  • Get a membership to the local library. (Do you have a library close enough to walk to after the birth of your child? Children love walks!)
  • Library book sales are excellent ways to purchase discarded books that the library no longer needs. Also, libraries receive donated books in second-hand condition which they offer at book sales for way less than the cost of brand new.
  • Online stores have discounts on multi-purchases and even offer free shipping. You can also find huge lots of used books at good deals in auctions.
  • Thrift stores, flea markets, and second-hand book stores also usually have an ever renewing section of donated used books. (Sometimes you can even find new ones.)

Dedicate a space to your home in a relaxing corner, nook, or room where you can place a rocking chair or very comfortable sitting chair for during and after your pregnancy.

One thing to remember is old and used books may contain dust and mold spores. It may not be suitable to place a home library in a nursery for a baby. Plus when the child is growing and starting to walk, you wouldn't want your child to accidentally pull a book shelf over and injure themselves. Bookshelves later moved in to a child's bedroom should be properly anchored to a wall.

Think about a separate area where you could place a relaxing reading corner. Do you have a spare wall or entire room you can designate for this purpose?

4. Read to your child from birth.

Once your child is born, the first few weeks may be overwhelming.

The first day or so in the hospital will be needed to aquaint yourself with your newborn.

Don't be afraid to pack a book in your overnight bag.

Baby's first bath in the hospital is an opportunity to read a bath book. Have your spouse, partner, helper, grandparent read the book aloud in a calm, soothing voice, as you bathe your newborn child for the first time. What an inviting experience for the family to embrace in a loving welcome to your child's first experience with water.

Developing good reading habits and routine will carry you through the first few weeks of your newborn's life.

Many people have time off to be with their child after birth. For some, it's only a matter of weeks. For others, it can be months or years. Whatever the case may be, it is never too early to start.

Upon bringing your baby home from the hospital, engage in an enjoyable reading activity for you to bond with your child while rocking your baby. During nap and bed times, dim the lights or use night lights to create a soft ambiance in the room while you preciously read to your child.

Holding your baby in your loving arms and reading to them is a most wonderful and amazing experience.

5. Speak to your child with good oral pronunciation.

Speak to your child with clear and slow speech. Rushed or hurried speech may frustrate your child when they can't interpret what you are saying.

Speaking slowly and precisely will allow your child the ability to listen to and sound out words they begin to recognize.

If you are from a bilingual home, it's never too early to train your child in multiple languages. However, in doing so, make sure all languages are spoken in the same clear and slow pattern. Otherwise, your child may become confused.

Many parents find cooing to their baby cute. However, your goal is to help your child define appropriate speech and language skills by communicating directly with fluent speaking patterns. Your baby will mimic your words and language later on.

6. Praise your child often.

It's crucial to praise your child often.

Clap out loud to encourage your child to keep trying when they attempt something new for the first time.

Praise your child verbally using words such as "good job", "yes", "correct", and so forth, to allow your child to understand the concept of doing something which is desired.

Never insult your child. Never resort to calling your child names. Don't allow others to speak to your child or around your child in a derogatory manner. This will accomplish nothing except instill self-worthlessness in a child who is just starting out and attempting to achieve life skills.

7. Encourage your child to communicate with words.

As your child develops from a baby to a toddler, the child will begin to explore. They will begin to learn about things such as where their favorite snacks or cups are put away.

It's very important during this time of growth that you allow your child to express in words what they want.

It comes natural to parents to want to do things for the child upon a grunting motion or finger pointing for a favorite Gerber cookie. However, when you give your child what they want based on grunting or pointing, they won't have any reason to learn how to ask for something.

Encourage your child to communicate by telling you with words what they want. Of course, if your child isn't old enough to pronounce "Gerber", that's ok too. You wouldn't want your child to become frustrated and give up trying because they felt defeated.

However, if your child is having trouble pronouncing a word, pronounce it with clear and slow speech and have them repeat it or try to repeat it to you.

Having your child speak for themselves reinforces early communication skills.

Many parents prefer Dr. Seuss. Rhyming stories are wonderful first readers.


8. Allow your child to be creative through touch.

The first thing said to me years ago after my son turned two years old was that my living room looked more like an art center than a family home.

Perhaps it is because I intentionally painted a chalkboard wall on one of the unused walls in my living room.

I also never scolded my children for drawing with a crayon on the floor or around the windows.

Paint, Magic Eraser sponges, and a little scrubbing will remove crayon from just about any surface. Crayons also come in washable now which will help if your child draws their first picture on your new leather sofa.

Children learn through touch.

Here are some suggestions for allowing your child to explore their environment through art:

  • Fill a muffin tin with assorted food products. (Oatmeal, brown sugar, yogurt, apple sauce, and other baby safe food that your toddler can dip their hands in and feel. They can explore different textures while knowing it's safe to eat in case they accidentally get in their mouth.)
  • For preschool age children, fill a muffin tin with elements from outdoors. (Sand, gravel, leaves, twigs, and other elements that your child can touch and think about.)

Pair these exercises with reading a book about nutrition or nature. Explain each element to the child and read facts about it from a book.

  • Finger painting is a beneficial way for a child to express their creative side. It's fun to let your child explore their environment through art.
  1. Purchase rolls of paper for an art easel, newsprint, window shades, or construction paper and allow your child to paint a masterpiece.
  2. Collect a variety of leaves and let your child paint and press the designs on to cardstock that can be saved in a scrapbook or given as a gift to a grandparent.
  3. Collect seashells at the beach and let your child paint them. Glue them together to make a wall hanging.
  4. Practice writing their first initial in finger paint on construction paper.

  • Keep sidewalk chalk handy. Let your child draw on sidewalks and patios. Show your child how to draw shapes. It washes off with one rain!

9. Create a safe and nurturing play area.

I will never forget the words from a neighbor. She said my children could go play with rocks if they were bored.

My children were in the toddler stage and loved playing in our back yard with their Little Tykes collection of toys I had purchased over time at yard sales, on eBay, and at thrift stores.

It's a good thing this neighbor never came in to my home! If the Little Tykes gas station and two toy cars put her over the edge, I wonder how she would have reacted in my basement which had been transformed in to a play room?

I believe it's important for children to have free play time. I was fortunate at this time that we had some very inexpensive thrift stores in town. It was often I could go with $10 in my pocket and cart home two trunk loads of toys ranging from building blocks to dollhouses.

After my children entered Kindergarten, a new teacher was hired at their school and had no "centers". She was fresh out of college and had little money to fill her classroom. We were able to stock her room with mailboxes by Fisher Price, potato head parts for a dozen potatoes, two garbage bags full of mega blocks, and other really wonderful toys.

Times have changed for sure. I'm not sure I could afford to do it again now if I was starting over. But at that time, thrift stores had items priced at 25 cents a piece.

Wherever the play room is set up in a home, remember to keep edge covers on hard furniture and floors covered in foam flooring or soft carpeting.

10. Build connections and relationships to other parents of children with similar ages.

Our town sponsors a wonderful recreation department. I was fortunate when my children were younger to enroll them in several different classes geared toward infants and young children. Among those classes were:

  • Baby and Me Water Play
  • Tumble Time
  • Gymnastics for Preschoolers
  • Swim Classes
  • Reading programs at the local library
  • Craft time at the local library
  • Play time at the park
  • Dance class followed by a recital for 3-year-olds
  • Music class for toddlers

Most towns that offer classes for young children also have opportunities for parents to apply for grants. No child should go without because of the inability to pay. If your family would like to enroll children in classes such as these but cannot due to cost, contact your local social services or find out directly through your recreation registration office if grant money is available based on your situation.

After these classes were finished, I'd often connect with other moms and we'd meet at different parks. Children grew up playing together and learning from each other. The experience was tremendous for everyone.

Other suggestions and tips for helping your child succeed!

  1. If your public school does not offer pre-school, find out where there are private schools offering pre-school education. Many times schools will have a sliding fee scale. Ask around to see if other parents you know have recommendations.
  2. What happens when one child is selected in the school lottery for early education but others aren't? You can always elect to pay for private pre-school or homeschool. There are numerous free ways to start an early education. Visiting a public library is a way to start your exploration.
  3. Where can parents find inexpensive or free toys? Thrift stores, flea markets, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Church tag sales, and yard sales are all places to start.
  4. What about painting a chalkboard wall? Chalkboard wall paint is offered at Home Depot and many craft stores. There are recipes online for making some homemade as well.

What to do if your child is behind in speech.

Speech is one of those things that children need, but is often under looked as a symptom of something bigger when it's delayed. My child has Autism and wasn't diagnosed until he was older.

While my daughter spoke in complete and full sentences by a year old, my son had trouble pronouncing words at the same age. He knew what he wanted, but became easily flustered and frustrated at not being able to pronounce his words clearly. He became hostile towards educators in pre-school when he wasn't understood.

Despite the pediatrician saying that my son's speech was simply delayed and he would "grow out of it", the school felt differently about it. The school conducted a speech evaluation and concluded that my son had a speech disorder. After getting a second opinion at a hospital for children, I enrolled him in intensive speech therapy. Public schools do offer speech services for children who qualify. (Some insurances will not cover private speech therapy.)

My son was ultimately diagnosed with phonological disorder, but due to intensive therapy over the years, one would not be able to tell he ever had an issue.

Children love to conduct tea parties with their stuffed animals and read aloud to their friends.


What the experts say!

According to the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, The University of Connecticut, The University of Georgia, The University of Virginia, and Yale University, in a 1993 study:

Early literacy development embraces the concept of learning about the nature of the stories, the function of printed words, and sound patterns of oral language.

While it's true that some children progress much faster than others, research suggests that the same kinds of development take place in all children.

Children are intelligent human beings. They know what they want to read at very early ages and often ask for the same book to be repeatedly read to them. Parents and caregivers should honor these requests. With each reading, children learn something new every time and their attention shifts per various aspects of the story.

Also, repetition provides opportunity for various kinds of learning. While it's appropriate for adults to choose books to read to their children to expand the child's possibilities, parents should keep in mind that forcing a child to read books that they do not like is ultimately not providing the kind of experience that will foster life-long readers!

Researchers have discovered that skills that might seem more like play than real reading are important signs of progress in the child's gradual mastery of early reading.

Children imitate adults.

Remember, all children are different. Important points to consider:

  • Many children benefit from advanced reading instruction. On the other hand, young children who are gifted in the area of verbal knowledge and reasoning skills will not necessarily have advanced reading skills.
  • Children with high verbal intelligence occasionally experience great difficulty in learning to read.
  • Some children may not be equally advanced in writing.
  • Individuals vary considerably in the relative strengths and weaknesses of their component reading skills.

Children are more likely to enjoy and focus on stories if the activities in them are geared to their current level of understanding and gives them a chance to participate!

One idea that comes to mind is puppet play during story time.

Adults can teach children voice reaction to stories by dramatizing words in a story with different characters.

If ever visiting Connecticut, Stay and Play offers a safe indoor playground for young children.

175 Elm St, Old Saybrook, CT 06475:
175 Elm Street, Old Saybrook, CT 06475, USA

get directions


Infants and toddlers have a whole world ahead of them in which to explore and learn.

Creating a positive and effective learning environment can greatly guide your child's learning progress.


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    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi Miss-Megan. Thank you so kindly for your generous comments. And thank you for being a teacher! :D

    • Miss-Megan profile image

      Miss Megan 

      5 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      I am a teacher- I don't currently work with infants & toddlers, but if I did I would print this article out for all of the parents. Very well written :). Thank you.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      That's a wonderful success story Cygnet! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 

      5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      I did all the things you suggested in this article and my daughter learned to read (and read well) before she started kindergarten. My husband said he thought that she was a natural reader. I told him "no" I worked with her to help her learn to read. Her kindergarten teacher loved having her in class! Now she's twelve and communication arts seems to come naturally to her. All because her mother took the time to make communication a priority.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you so much for your comment Rebecca! It sure does. My daughter still loves to read. She has mountains of books and still wants more.

    • Rebecca Furtado profile image

      Rebecca Furtado 

      5 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

      Great advice. This will make kids life long readers as well.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you EP! I have a pitbull dog that I rescued. He was abandoned at a church and left there with another dog for who knows how long, tied up with no food or water.

      Everyone said I was nuts. Everyone said the dog would eat me alive and would never appreciate a good home.

      They were wrong.

      I apply the same compassion and understanding to all 9 of my rescued animals that I do for my children. They all need love, encouragement, hope, attention, etc.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      BL, that is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing that here. Lovely words.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      What fantastic advice. I don't have any children (just dogs) but I can see how these tips can totally help someone who is expecting. Your ideas are so creative. I love them! I'm sharing!! :)

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      5 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      I am not a parent, but from my limited experience of observing and interacting with children, this article is excellent advice. I sense that the special ingredient in all of these tips is love. Kahil Gibran in "On Work" from THE PROPHET says,

      ".... And what is it to work with love?

      It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,

      even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

      It is to build a house with affection,

      even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.

      .... Work is love made visible. ...." That of course includes the work of child rearing.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      Crafty, I will never forget that day. You're right; it was music to my ears!

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you annart!

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Brave, thank you for sharing that story with me. I bet "I hear birds" was music to your ears! I can just picture him saying that to you. how sweet!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Sounds great! What a shame there are still teachers who don't quite get it! You have great ideas and I'm sure all the children you help benefit tremendously.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comments annart. I know when my children were smaller, I had some extra toys that I wanted to donate. One of the teachers told me she had enough stuff in her class, took my donations home and sold them. That really hurt my feelings. But what was worse was the classroom was always bare, never had anything in it. When I had the opportunity to set up a classroom for a new teacher, I was more than delighted. That new teacher encouraged the children to participate in hands-on centers.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you so much DDE!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      Crafty, I enrolled my son in Dr. Seuss and Disney book clubs while I was pregnant with him. Actually, I didn't know he was a he until he was born. Everyday from the day he was born, we would have reading time.

      I was such a proud new mom. When he began talking, I'd write down each new word he'd learned. However, he had problems pronouncing certain words. For instance, 'church' was 'kirk', but I knew what he was saying - it's just no one else did. We enrolled him in speech therapy when he was in kindergarten. By the time he was in 1st grade, it was determined he wasn't speaking clearly because he wasn't hearing clearly. We took him to his pediatrician who determined that both of Christopher's Eustachian tubes were blocked. We had tubes put in his ears and had his adenoids removed. I'll never forget the day he came home from the hospital. We were standing out back and he exclaimed, "I hear birds"! From that day on he spoke beautifully. He also had and does have a vocabulary beyond that of his peers because of all the reading we did and the fact that I've never talked baby talk to him. I used the same words I would with an adult. He learned how to speak on any level at a very young age.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      A clear, comprehensive guide from birth as to how to help your child; well done! It's so important to create that atmosphere of speech, learning and encouragement. I taught dyslexics for many years and it's the multi-sensory approach that is so important and of course it works for all! Shame more schools don't adopt such approaches right from the start; with all the knowledge and information available these days there's no excuse for remaining in the dark ages. Up, useful and interesting. Ann

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Awesome hub on 10 Positive Steps for Creating Early Readers and Talkers in Children a way to get children to early reading. Most informative and helpful to parents.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi Flourish! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. That is one thing I did forget to mention here, hearing screening. My son went through that as well at first to rule that out.

      Music has played a phenomenal role in my son's life.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Wonderful tips for any parent. I read Dr. Seuss and other favorites to my daughter daily from age 6 months. We attended Kindermusik song/dance classes from a young age and she enjoyed it mightily. She was diagnosed with a mild to moderate speech delay before the age of one because she never babbled like "normal," didn't engage in "hi" and "bye" social displays, and even lost words. After confirmations from the Cleveland Clinic that she was neither autistic nor hearing impaired, I started talking to her constantly about everything I was doing -- plus of course, reading, singing, and a stint at speech therapy. I nearly drove myself nuts from hearing myself talk constantly because I am normally such a quiet person, but by age 3 she was developmentally caught up with her speech. Today, as a teen we can't shut her up and we're glad. I owe a lot of her progress to reading, music, and an incredible amount of positive reinforcement. We were also very lucky. I worry about kids who do not have healthy early environments that promote reading and other fundamentals that you laid out.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi Billy! No, never a teacher. I just had exceptional teachers in school. And my grandfather was a huge inspiration to me when I was a child. When I was a child though, I used to want to play school. I used to create my own worksheets and tests. I had a 1/2 sister that I played with as well as cousins.

      I also volunteered full time at the private school my children were enrolled in for a while.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you so much GM! And thanks again for building me up with the encouragement to write this one.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is so important. Anything that helps a child to develop reading skills I am all for. Were you a teacher at one time? Just curious; I've been meaning to ask. Anyway, great information my friend.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      It is wonderful for children to desire knowledge. Such children will go FAR in this world. God bless you and your children always.

    • CraftytotheCore profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you GM for giving me the encouragement and inspiration to write it! It took me all day. I skipped my morning mile walk just to get the ball rolling on this. I was so happy when I finished it before 5 p.m. I even made a pan of baked ziti and homemade Italian meatballs when I took a short break to have lunch so that dinner would be ready by the time I finished writing! There was nothing more rewarding than teaching my children how to read when they were younger. It's truly an amazing experience! Now I can't buy them enough books. They have shelves and shelves full and want more. Their hearts desire knowledge.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is the best hub I have read pertaining to early childhood development. You are succinctly on target regarding how parenting and other indicators influence early childhood development for positive or negative. Children are indeed intelligent beings who must have the best parental attention in order to develop to their utmost in potentiality. Again, excellent hub and thank you for the dedication, that dedication is making me cry.


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