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Language and literacy skills are an essential element of young children’s development and allow them to interact meaningfully with other people and to develop knowledge in all subject areas. Despite the importance of language and literacy development, however, more than one third of children in the United States enter school with significant differences in language, early literacy skills, and motivation to learn that place them at considerable risk for developing long-term reading difficulties. The quantity and quality of language interactions children have with their parents and exposure to print in their home environment prior to entering school have an important impact on these individual differences. This paper provides teachers with guidelines and tools for helping families identify and create language and literacy opportunities in their home environment that reflect their unique strengths and routines.

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Early Childhood Education Journal (doi: 10.1007/s10643-009-0312-5 ) published by Springer. Copyright restrictions may apply.