Monday, June 18, 2007

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

One of the skills that children need as a foundation for literacy learning is what is known as "print awareness," or seeing words in print and understanding that letters and words have meaning that can be decoded through reading. Parents who are looking to foster this skill in their children can help by pointing out print all around them and noting what it says and what it means for us. Particularly in an urban environment, signs are a great opportunity to talk about words. They are designed to be simple and clear, and to say what they need to say in a minimal number of words. They are all around us, so we can seize any moment to talk about words. And, with the right storybook, we can continue the conversation at home, consolidating what we have seen on our daily travels. Here are a few that I have recently enjoyed.

Once Upon a Banana, by Jennifer Armstrong, ill. David Small

This nearly wordless picture book begins with the classic slapstick move: slipping on a banana peel. A chain reaction follows, drawing in person after person as the action moves around the block, winding up right back where it started. Funny rhyming signs throughout add another layer of humour, as they relate directly to the action, making them worth noting as you share this with your wee one. Fans of physical humour will fall down laughing over this gem.

I Read Signs and I Read Symbols, by Tana Hoban

Tana Hoban is a classic, timeless choice for concept books of all varieties (shapes, opposites, etc.), and here she lends her photographic skills to the study of signs around us. I Read Signs features a variety of print signs (Stop, Exit, Beware of Dog, and so on) found on the street and in buildings, and offers a great opportunity to connect print and meaning, and to start showing children the many places where words are found when we go out into the real world with them. In I Read Symbols, she introduces the idea that an image can hold meaning in place of words - an arrow, stoplight, or red cross, for example.

Alphabeep: A Zipping, Zooming ABC, by Debora Pearson, ill. Edward Miller

This fun, boldly coloured alphabet book is a winner for the truck-obssessed, but adds in other aspects of life on the road, too, including a few road signs. Y, for example, is for Yield. A great way to talk about those signs with a youngster who likes some movement in their storytime!

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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