Milestones of early literacy development

Motor Development:

holds head steady, sits in lap without support, grasps books, puts in mouth, drops and throws books

Communication and Cognition:

smiles, babbles, coos, likes and wants your voice, likes pictures of baby faces, begins to say “ma,” “ba,” “da,” responds to own name, pats pictures to show interest

What to Read:

Board and cloth books, books with baby faces, nursery rhymes

Anticipatory Guidance:

talk back and forth with your baby, make eye contact, cuddle, talk, sing, read, play, point and name everyday things, follow baby’s cues for “more” or “stop,” play games such as “peek-a-boo” or “pat-a-cake”

Motor Development:

holds and walks with books, no longer puts books in mouth immediately, turns board book pages

Communication and Cognition:

says single words and eventually 2- to 4-word phrases, give book to adult to read, points at pictures, turns book right-side up, names pictures, follows simple stories

What to Read:

board books, rhyming books, picture books, books that name things

Anticipatory Guidance:

smile and answer when your child speaks or points, let your child help turn the pages, continue naming everyday things, use books in family routines (naptime, playtime, bedtime, on the potty, in the car, on the bus,) use books to calm or distract your child while waiting

Motor Development:

learns to turn paper pages (2 to 3 pages at a time,) starts to scribble

Communication and Cognition:

adds 2-4 new words per day, names familiar objects, likes the same book again and again, completes sentences and rhymes in familiar stories

What to Read:

rhyming books, picture books that tell stories, search and find books

Anticipatory Guidance:

be willing to read the same book again and again, talk about the pictures while you read, keep using books in daily routines, ask “Where’s the dog?” or “What is that?”

Motor Development:

turns pages one at a time from left to right, sits still for longer stories, scribbles and draws

Communication and Cognition:

recites whole phrases from books, moves toward letter recognition, begins to detect rhyme, pretends to read to dolls and stuffed animals

What to Read:

picture books that tell longer stories, counting and alphabet books

Anticipatory Guidance:

point out letters and numbers, point out words and pictures that begin with the same sound, make up stories about the pictures together, ask “What happens next?” in familiar stories

Motor Development:

starts to copy letters and numbers, sits still for even longer stories

Communication and Cognition:

can listen longer, recognizes numbers and letters, can retell familiar stories, can make rhymes, learning letter names and sounds

What to Read:

fairy tales and legends, books with longer stories and fewer pictures

Anticipatory Guidance:

relate the story to your child’s own experiences, let your child see you read, ask your child to tell the story, encourage writing and drawing, point out the letters in your child’s name

The above guidelines alone cannot diagnose a child with a developmental delay. If you suspect your child needs further assessment, please address this with your pediatrician. For families with children under the age of 3, you can contact your local DHS Office to obtain more information on whether your child qualifies for Early Intervention services. 

resources for children with special needs

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Vision Loss

Developmental Delay

Learning Style Differences

Hearing Loss

Motor Delay

Autism

Speech & Language Delay

book guides

Please visit our Children’s Books webpage to explore our numerous book guides!