The Importance of Literacy in the Early Years

Once upon a time…

We all know the famous words, but can you remember the first time you heard them? From an early age, kids and parents tell stories for many reasons; to bond, to help sleep, to improve reading, and most importantly, for fun!

Reading and writing are often seen as the fundamentals of early education, and it’s easy to see why. They constantly crop up in everyday life; from reading road signs to writing out your shopping list. This is why so much importance is placed on children’s literacy skills

But why exactly is literacy important during a child’s early years?


Even reading aloud to a baby helps introduce concepts that will help them as they grow, communicating information about the world around them through colours, shapes and even letters.

It may be hard to believe but your baby will have actually learned all the sounds needed to talk by their first birthday! The more stories you read, the more your baby will accumulate words and the better they will eventually communicate.

As they continue to grow and their ability to understand sounds develops, more multi-sensory literacy tools can be introduced to encourage speech and reading ability such as songs, CDs, and even magnets.

Emotional and Social Development

As you read aloud, your voice will automatically convey emotion. This encourages children to understand different moods, and through this develop empathy. Using puppets can reinforce this, and can even embolden older children to use them to express their own feelings.

Similarly, stories often have a moral that will feature. For example, the classic tale of the Ugly Duckling, which encourages children to be themselves and be happy. This message is then taken on board by a child and can shape their social development, helping them build relationships when they eventually attend school and beyond.


Stories are a fantastic source of information. Children and babies are obviously too young to physically explore the world around them, so encouraging literacy from an early age is a great way to inform them about different cultures, places and ideas. For example, explore the animals of Africa together.

Other forms of practical literacy can help inform and inspire children too, for example, following a recipe. This application of words to a real-life activity provides a more tangible aspect of learning.


Spending time on literacy from an early age can also improve concentration. In just a few short years your baby will start their academic journey when being able to concentrate in class will be crucial for their educational development. Story time establishes from an early age the importance of listening and concentrating in certain situations and environments, giving them much-needed practice for the years ahead.

Creating an engaging and comfortable reading environment where parents and children can sit and read together can help differentiate between situations and provide a suitable atmosphere to encourage appropriate attitudes towards literacy and learning.


The most important reason for introducing literacy at an early age is simple; it’s fun! It forms a connection between what a baby loves the most and what they need to learn the most; you and language. Letting them put pen to paper can be messy, but helps to assign meaning to marks and shapes. As they grow older it lets their imaginations run wild and inspires them to reach for the stars, providing a perpetual outlet for creativity in the form of reading and writing.

… and they all lived happily ever after!

Need some literacy inspiration?

Take a look at our General Literary Resources to see how you can get creative with reading. Don’t forget to let us know how you get on via our Facebook or Twitter!

Do you struggle to find ways to identify safeguarding issues? Learn what to look out for in our How To Identify Safeguarding Issues With Stories blog.

link to literacy resources

References: Development Matters in the EYFS Why Read to my Baby? 10 Benefits of Reading Developmental milestones: talking

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