Talk, sing, read, write, play

Learn how all family members and your public library can help prepare young children to be readers with five early literacy activities that are fun yet powerful ways to encourage early learning..


This project was made possible in part by funding from the Friends of Hennepin County Library and the Minnesota Department of Education through a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

View the transcript of the "Learn As They Grow: Early Literacy and Libraries" video

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Talk together

Children learn about language by listening and joining in the conversation. Talk as you play and choose books that interest your children to talk about!

Sing together

Fingerplays, rhymes and songs slow down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words. Ask a librarian to help you find familiar or new songs to sing together.

Read together

Shared reading gets children ready to read. Kids who are read to are more likely to enjoy reading themselves.

Write together

Encourage your children to write or draw. A first step to writing is to stimulate small motor muscle control with toys and art supplies.

Play together

Children learn language by interacting with others and also with their physical surroundings. See how libraries encourage play within our spaces.

Discover shining examples of children's literature to share with the kids in your care. Our expert librarians highlight picture books with tips for sharing. Read them aloud, talk about them, and let the fun begin!

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Make "tech time" an engaging, language-rich experience. Learn how apps can promote early learning

Talk together

Make sure you two are doing the talking, not the app. Ask questions, have conversations and ask your child to recount the action of the app later, when the device is turned off. Children learn oral language when you talk with them. Studies have shown that oral language cannot be learned from prerecorded voices or screens.

Sing together

Learn new songs or enjoy well-loved classics as you use singing apps, then keep singing together long after the device is turned off. Singing slows down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words, and it teaches children phonics, vocabulary and general knowledge about the world.

Read together

Enjoy eBook apps together as you would print books. Let your child take the lead and talk about what's happening in the story. Always read eBook apps aloud, disabling prerecorded options to promote interaction. Reading together is the number-one way you can get your child ready to read and ready for school.

Write together

Look for apps that ask your child to do more than simply tap the screen. Using fingers to draw, scribble, pinch and expand helps develop small-motor control, an essential skill for learning to write. Writing with a finger is a great way for children who haven't yet mastered holding a crayon or pencil to start down the path to learning to write.

Play together

Look for play apps that allow children to pretend, create, investigate and problem-solve, and ask them to describe what's happening. Play gives children a chance to use words and explore concepts that may not come up otherwise. They learn about their world through play, and they learn best when they play with you.

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Early learning and storytimes

Share books, stories, rhymes, music and movement at baby and family storytimes and other early learning events.

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Online books and games


BiblioEnfants (Tumblebooks) offre des livres animés et des romans pour les jeunes, avec des textes soulignés. En plus, la collection inclus des romans graphiques, des livres et vidéos non-fiction, des puzzles, et des jeux.

Biblioteca Tumble

Libros infantiles y de capítulos animados y con texto resaltado. Incluye libros y videos de información, audiolibros, rompecabezas y juegos. Para estudiantes de kínder a quinto grado.


Video storybooks and online nonfiction books for young readers. Includes streaming video, games and educator resources.

One More Story

Picture books set to music and read aloud to you, or use the "I Can Read It" mode to read them yourself. For children ages 2-6.

TumbleBook Library

Animated story books and chapter books with highlighted text. Also includes graphic novels, nonfiction books and videos, puzzles, and games. Some titles in Spanish and French. Kindergarten - Gr 5.