Now Hear This! Incorporating Early Literacy Messages into Storytimes

I came across this article that was so immediately relevant that I definitely had to blog it to share it with you! Melissa Depper has written about making early literacy messaging in the context of storytime simple by offering a simple and usable process for defining and describing early literacy practices.

Here’s Depper’s process, which is called the Parent Literacy Connection:

  • an activity (book, song, rhyme, fingerplay, flannelboard, game, and so on) designed for the children and supporting an early literacy skill or practice and
  • a conversational, brief, early literacy message delivered to the adults.

The messaging contains four potential parts:

  1. The Activity Statement “provides a natural transition from a storytime activity to the literacy message.” This is the time to tell the group what we’re doing to highlight the activity for parents and draw their attention to it. (A side note: This is helpful for children, too, because providing predictable transition moments helps children move from one activity to another successfully.)
  2. The Skill Statement “lets parents know that what they do with their children makes a difference.” This is the time to highlight the learning or development that occurs during each and every interaction between a child and parent or caregiver.
  3. The Good Readers Statement “gives parents and caregivers the … practical outcome of building early literacy skills.”When we do this, it gives parents a concrete early literacy concept and explains to them specifically how they are contributing to it with their specific literacy practices.
  4. The Practice Statement “reinforces the ‘practice of the month’ for the parents and caregivers, and it provides consistent, recognizable closure to the literacy message.” In the author’s library, one practice receives focus for a month at a time, to provide consistent exposure to these practices and their outcomes.

Here’s a sample script for actually using these messages in storytime:

Screen Shot 2016-11-06 at 1.46.49 PM.png

See how the activity and the message connect what you’re doing in storytime to something that parents and caregivers can do with their children outside of storytime. It’s also noteworthy how this sample script brings together components of ECRR1 and ECRR2 by addressing both the skills and the practices of early literacy.

After hearing this message, when a parent sings an animal song with her child, perhaps it will trigger the thought in her head: “Gosh, the storytime leader said that something as simple as this can actually help my child learn to read!” or prompt him to think of the numerous opportunities he has during the day to influence his child’s learning just having little conversations about things they experience in their environment together.

I am sharing this messaging template with you because I think it is a useful way to arrange our thoughts about storytime and early literacy messaging. Sometimes parent education can be a little intimidating – we might think we’re talking too much, or parents aren’t hearing or connecting with what we’re saying. So reducing our thoughts to a simple template gives us an opportunity to say what we need to say in relatively few words, so that we can efficiently and effectively share the message with parents and caregivers.


Depper, M. (2014). Now Hear This! Incorporating Early Literacy Messages into Storytimes. Children and Libraries, 12(1), 16-18.




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