Teaching about Books

Learning how to use books is an important building block for early literacy. Teachers and child-care providers can help children learn that all books written in English have similar features and require consistent use.

The following is an excerpt from Teaching Our Youngest.

As adults, we do not pay much attention to the routine features of books and book handling. We just know that, in English, we read from left to right and from the top to the bottom of a page, that words are separated by spaces, and that sentences begin with capital letters and end with some kind of punctuation mark. We forget that when we were children, we also had to learn these things.

It is important for young children to:

  • Know how to handle books appropriately.
  • Recognize book features such as the front and back covers, and the top and bottom, of a book.
  • Recognize that a book has a title, was written by an author, and has drawings done by an illustrator.
  • Recognize that printed letters and words run from left to right across the page and from and from top to bottom.

Here are some things that you can do to help children learn about books:

  • Help the children learn how to hold a book and show them that we read from front to back and that we go through a book page by page. For older children, point out features of books such as the front cover and the title.

Teacher Talk

  • This is the front of the book. It tells you the name of the book and who wrote it and drew the pictures. This is the name of our book: If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Here's the name of the woman who wrote it: Laura Numeroff, and here's the name of the woman who drew the pictures: Felicia Bond.
  • As you read from big books, occasionally emphasize the direction in which we read print by pointing to the first word on a line and running a finger or hand beneath the words as you read from left to right and from top to bottom.

"Teaching about Books." Teaching Our Youngest. Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force. ED/HHS. 2002. English.

Last Reviewed: September 2009

Last Updated: October 2, 2014