Early childhood is a critical time to develop a love of reading. MSU Extension programming is designed to help parents and caregivers make the most of their reading time with their children. It supports and enhances book reading in seven areas of school readiness: math and science, reading readiness, music and movement, motor skills, thinking skills, art, and pretend play.

Michigan State University Extension recommends parents and caregivers read to their child for 30 minutes a day. When this daily reading time begins at birth, children can go to Kindergarten with more than 900 hours of reading time under their belts! However, when that is reduced to just 30 minutes a week, children leave for Kindergarten with only 130 hours of reading experience. Keep in mind this time doesn’t have to be consecutive: just a few minutes here and there spent on literacy activities can quickly add up to the recommended 30 minutes. Throughout the day, try things like reading the cereal box at breakfast or signs on the way to school to add to your literacy work.

In addition to these recommendations, MSU Extension offers the following trainings to support children’s language and literacy development: ABC’s of Early Literacy, Raising Young Readers and Hands on Literacy Activities. Look at the events calendar to find out when these programs are being offered near you or contact an early childhood educator to book a presentation at your library, childcare center, school or other community program.

For more information, contact an early childhood educator near you.

Check out MSU Extension's video based resources on the MSU Extension Early Childhood YouTube channel. Topics of videos include: friendship skills, communication, developing independence, cooperation, misbehavior, early literacy, sibling relationships and much more. New video topics are added frequently!

MSU Extension also offers a variety of downloadable resources for parents and caregivers interested in learning about language and literacy in young children.

Family Book Sheets

Using books in early childhood is a great way to link new concepts to ideas that children already understand.

ABCs of Early Literacy

This sheet provides tips to parents about how to help their children as they begin to show "emergent literacy" skills which develop before they can read.

Tips for reading with Children

Use this resources to learn how to make it easy to incorporate 30 minutes of reading for your child.

Hands on Literacy Activities

These literacy activities are great for children who respond better when they are engaged in activities that require movement, talking and listening.

The Retelling Glove

Use this lesson help children retell a story.

QR Code linked Book Sheets

These QR codes are offered for free by MSU Extension for some of the most popular and highly recommended children's books.

Selecting Books for Children

This resource describes in detail how to select books for child and why this is so important to understand.

ABCs at Home With me Fact Sheet

This resource explains how important reading and literacy skills are and how parents can help their children achieve these.

ABCs at Home with me Literacy Kit Instructions

The ABCs at Home with me Literacy Kit includes basic items to support emergent literacy development within the family environment.


  • New prescription for parents: Read to your babies

    Published on July 16, 2014
    The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new policy statement recommending that parents and caregivers begin reading out loud to their children beginning in infancy.

  • Kindergarten readiness: language and literacy

    Published on May 13, 2014
    The National Education Goals Panel has identified five essential areas of school readiness. This is the third of five articles exploring the critical skills needed for children to be Kindergarten ready in each of these five areas.

  • ABC’s of Early Literacy: The importance of developing early literacy skills

    Published on November 18, 2013
    Emergent literacy, or reading readiness, skills begin to develop very early in life. These critical school-readiness skills go beyond knowing the ABC’s. Learn more about how to support your children’s reading readiness and school success!

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