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Print Awareness

Print AwarenessPrint awareness is the understanding that words on a page have meaning and that they are related to spoken language. Young children do not naturally understand the concept of text, and start out thinking that their parents are reading the pictures on a page rather than the words. As children develop print awareness, however, they begin to realize that those characters on the page are words, and that words are read in lines from left to right and lines are read from top to bottom. They learn that there are spaces between words and punctuation at the end of sentences.

This knowledge gives children an idea of how text is “supposed” to look, and that text will look different depending on how it is used. Text in a picture book, for instance, will look different from text on a menu or a sign. As children begin to realize that printed words are all around them, they will develop a familiarity with the printed word that helps them feel comfortable with text and understand that print is useful in many ways.

Print awareness is the most basic of the Big Five Skills, and is important because it teaches children how print is used, as opposed to how to read it. Research shows that children who lack print awareness are unlikely to become successful readers. Conversely, the greater a child’s awareness of print, the more quickly and easily he can learn to read.

The best way for a child to learn print awareness is through a variety of print-rich experiences. In the All About Reading Pre-reading program, we provide many tips and suggestions to help you create these experiences and integrate them into each lesson. Your children will effortlessly absorb this essential skill as they learn the letters and sounds.