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Print Referencing & Your Preschooler

May 7th, 2013 by Miss Kristin


One of my great friends, Leah, is a speech and hearing science major at U of A {I try not to hold that against her being a Sun Devil fan myself ;) } Kidding! U of A is a great school! Next fall she is moving on to the University of Washington for her Masters in speech and hearing. Selfishly sad, but excited for her nonetheless. Now, you may be thinking, “why is Miss Kristin telling me all these details about her friend who I don’t know at all?” Well, I tell you these things because she is such a great friend & she is constantly sending me articles, journals, and info in relation to literacy and preschoolers…she knows me so well!

The latest article she sent me was on the effect of print referencing with preschoolers. What is print referencing? “Print references is a strategy implemented within the context of adult-child shared storybook reading interactions, and specifically refers to the use of verbal and nonverbal cues to encourage children’s attention to and interactions with print.” Basically print referencing is paying attention to and pointing out the basics of print while reading the story. It is such an easy task to implement during shared story times whether you are a teacher or a parent!

story timeUntitled

A question strolling through your mind may be, “do I have to point out EVERY. SINGLE. WORD?”  The answer is NO. You want story time to still be enjoyable and relaxing, not just for the child, but for you too! So, what exactly can you do then? While researching this concept I stumbled across one blogging mom, Teach Mama. She has some great ideas! I have meshed our ideas together for you :)

  • Ever notice when your little one reads a story they tend to start in the middle and flop around to different pages with no rhyme or reason? While I encourage letting your child look at the illustrations because they ARE an important aspect of picture books it is important for them to know where to start!
    • Point out the title of the book and the author & illustrator!-”This is the title of the book. The title is the name of the story. The author, or writer of the book is…and this is his/her name. The illustrator drew all the pictures and his/her name is…”
    • Point out the page order-Let them know you read this page first and then turn the page like this.
    • Point out text direction–We read top to bottom, left to right! These are important elements of any story. “We start reading this word, and then we move to this word”
    • Point at the words as you read them! This is arguably one of the most important ones. If you point at a word while reading it, it will help your child with reading comprehension & word recognition. The article I posted above states, “If you’re getting kids to pay attention to letters and words, it makes sense that they will do better at word recognition and spelling.” I agree 100%! And pointing out a few words is such a low maintenance way to encourage learning during a story time.

big words

{I love all of her stories, but occasionally her words look a little too “fancy” and may be confusing for a little one if you’re pointing them out-use your discernment :) }

  • Those are the basics of reading a story, but what concepts can you teach during shared story times?
    • Work on letter recognition. “Can you find the letter M on this page?”
    • Teach the concept of a word. “All these letters make up a word, how many words are on this page?”
    • Read captions or subtitles in the illustrations. “The caption here tells us more about the picture…this word here is an onomatopoeia, which means it’s a word that is spelled the way it sounds, like ‘poof!’ or ‘oink’”

I saw an ant

That sounds like a lot for one story time because it is! Don’t feel like you need to do all of these techniques every time you sit down to share a story. You don’t! Just by applying a couple of these techniques during a story time is sufficient and can improve literacy tremendously. Try to do it often, but don’t feel like it is necessary to cram all this into one story. Green Eggs and Ham only lasts so long, you know? :) During your next shared story time try this out! Let us know what you think and if you have any family favorites your read. We would love to hear!


Posted by Miss Kristin

Bio: My name is Kristin, but most here at SLC call me Miss Kristin :) I have been working at Scottsdale Learning Centers since 2007 and LOVE it. It is such a blessing to be a part of the amazing SLC team in the front office and as a pre-k teacher in Room 11! When I'm not at SLC I volunteer as a leader for junior high girls at my church (I am crazy...I know), and needless to say, I have a passion for kids!

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