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Children learn about language by listening to parents talk and joining in the conversation.  As they hear spoken words, children learn:

  • How individual words sound, which helps them decode words.
  • What words mean, which increases their vocabulary.
  • How words can be put together to communicate ideas and information, which leads to comprehension.

Activities and Printables

Steps on how to include “Talk” in library programming:

  • A “picture walk” teaches a child to take turns in the conversation, gives parents a chance to introduce new words, and provides opportunities to rephrase and repeat a story.
  • Give children a lot of opportunities to talk with you, not just listen to you talk. Respond to what a child says and follow their lead.
  • Give the child time to respond and if they are not talking yet, listen to their babbling and then give feedback, such as “Yes, that carrot is orange!”
  • Ask children what they think “happens next” at the end of a story.
  • Ask more then “yes” or “no” questions, encourage children to think about possible answers.

Additional Links

Book Recommendations

Play while reading text to help children make sense of the book. Children can use props such as puppets to talk about the characters in a storybook and retell the story or use other objects to think more deeply about informational text. If there are vocabulary words that are unfamiliar, acting them out through dramatic play helps them by using words they already know and put the new words into action.

Little Poems

Little Poems for Tiny Ears

Oliver, Lin

Rhyme is a great way for young children to hear the sounds in words, so share some poetry with your youngest crowds!

City Moon

City Moon

Cole, Rachel

Talk with children about things you see around your neighborhood. What is different if you walk around at night or during the day? What animals might be out at night that are sleeping during the day? 

Barnyard Song

Barnyard Song

Greene, Rhonda Growler

Make the barnyard come alive as you call and repeat the animal sounds throughout this story. 

Black Bird Yellow Sun

Black Bird Yellow Sun

Light, Steve

Use this book about colors to encourage young children to make up their own stories about what the Black Bird is doing. 

Goodnight Gorilla

Goodnight, Gorilla

Rathmann, Peggy

Ask children: Have you ever been to the zoo? What are your favorite animals? What sounds do they make?