Yesterday I went to a workshop focusing on early literacy. The presenter was Dr. James “Jim” Thomas from Texas and he was excellent. Part of the role of librarians is to encourage literacy amongst young children which is done through story time programs. Jim explained our role as getting children ready to read. Therefore it is not our job to teach letter sounds etc. but he did outline six things children need in order to be ready to read. These are: print awareness, vocabulary, letter knowledge, narrative skills, phonological awareness, and print motivation. Print awareness is knowing how to handle a book and knowing that letters/words mean something. Vocabulary is knowing that everything has a name. Letter knowledge is knowing the name of the letters and being able to recognize them. Narrative skills is the ability to describe events and tell stories. Phonological awareness is recognizing rhyming and similar sounding words. Print motivation is about developing a child’s interest in reading and books.

Jim went to a lot of trouble to find out Australian terms and expressions. However I was quite amused when at one point he was recommending a book. He said there was nothing American about it. However in the text of the book the author had rhymed the letter Z with tree!