“Environmental print” sounds like something a librarian might use to combat global warming, but it’s actually a way to encourage literacy in young children, especially children growing up in print-deprived homes. The modern (or should I say post-modern?) child is surrounded by advertising and product logos; a child who can’t yet read print seeing the Golden Arches and saying “McDonald’s” is a common experience. Children learn to “read” those familiar symbols, and adults can help them turn their ability to comprehend everything from signs to cereal boxes into real literacy skills.

Take a look at a page on teacher Vanessa Levin’s site, http://www.pre-kpages.com/environmental_print.html , that gives ideas to other teachers, parents, and librarians about using print and symbols from the world around them to help kids learn early reading and concept skills. For example, she shows the front of a Cheerios box that’s been bound into a classroom book called “What’s for Breakfast?”

Remember that many families have no books in their homes (see the previous posting), along with parents who aren’t readers. Reaching them through advertsing and logos may be the most relevant way to reach them. All we can do is hope that we can somehow reach these children and put books in front of them, too.

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