New Guide to Early Literacy Offers Tips for Encouraging Language Development


CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new book edited by Oregon State University faculty member Sharon Rosenkoetter offers insights into how to prepare children ages 3-and-under with a love of language and the foundation of literacy, both key to school success.

“Learning to Read the World: Language and Literacy in the First Three Years” builds the case for the importance of language and literacy during the infant/toddler period. It then presents 28 chapters that explore issues such as the family’s contribution to literacy, the role of caregivers and other adults, program leadership, and the community’s role in shaping a child’s language skills in the early years.

Rosenkoetter is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at OSU. Her research focuses on child development, prenatal through age 8, and the systems of support for positive development. Other chapters in the book are authored by OSU faculty Ann Zukoski and Clara Pratt.

In addition to co-editing the book with Joanne Knapp-Philo, Rosenkoetter also wrote five chapters. In “Mentoring: Together We’re Better,” she outlines the importance of a mentor in helping family members and care providers foster young children’s language and literacy and describes research on the qualities of effective mentors.

In the book’s final chapter, Rosenkoetter offers these research-based guidelines to producing a more-literate citizenry:

Families must talk, sing and read with responsiveness to their babies and young children throughout every day, from birth onward;

  • Every caregiver in a home or center-based setting must talk, sing, and read with responsiveness to every baby and young child throughout every day;
  • Communities must develop comprehensive plans to foster early language and literacy, intentionally including infants and toddlers, and they must systematically support families, caregivers, and programs in their vital everyday language and literacy interactions with babies and young children;
  • Policymakers must realize the relationship between language and literacy in the early years and children’s later school success. They also must acknowledge the important influence that family support and education, caregiver support and education, and the development of new or expanded teacher education programs have on the promotion of early language and literacy with infants and toddlers;
  • Policymakers must address the need for new research on effective strategies for early language and literacy learning that include or focus on the infant-toddler years.

“Learning to Read the World” is published by Washington D.C.-based Zero to Three Press. For more information, go to www.zerotothree.org.