Book Handling Skills

Book Handling Skills

If you spend any time using an Early Learning Framework or assessment tool to guide what your children should be learning, you'll be familiar with this idea that children need to learn how to "use" books. What, exactly, does this mean?

Book Handling Skills include:

  • turning one page at a time
  • identifying the front cover and starting there
  • holding a book the right way and turning pages from right to left
  • understanding that pictures tell stories
  • understanding that print conveys meaning
  • understanding concepts such as title, author, illustrator

Many of these things children will easily come to understand all on their own just based on exposure to reading opportunities and books. Some of them, however, might require you to be more explicit to reinforce the concepts. That doesn't mean that every single time you read a book you need to point out the front cover, back cover, title, author, illustrator, before reading a book. Let's be honest, that might get tiresome pretty quickly. Instead, when you read a new book you can say "Ooh, let's look at the cover to see if we can guess what this book is about!" or "Let's read another book by Eric Carle. Eric Carle is special because he is the author and illustrator-- meaning he writes the words and draws the pictures!"

An example that isn't going to come solely from story time is the understanding that print carries meaning. Repeat exposure over time to things like adults writing grocery lists, reading street signs, looking up information in a book to answer a question, writing messages to parents, etc. will help children formulate an idea about print concepts.

Many of these skills can be supported during story time, but don't think of them as limited to only story time. They have application throughout much of the rest of your day as well. Besides, you don't want your story times to get so long that your kids lose interest before you even start reading.