Handbook of Language and Literacy Development - a Roadmap from 0 to 60 Months

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at a glance

Children's Literature (0-60 months)click to print Print

Written by: Julie Gellner, University of Alberta

It is true for all areas of human development that children develop differently. The age groupings and corresponding skills reflect what is typically observed and noted. Children sometimes do things at different times and with differing levels of ability. Differences are expected, but should you have concerns about your child's progress and development, discuss your concern with your health care provider. Related information is also available under 'At-A-Glance' for Reading.

Birth to Six Months

  • Finds out about books through the senses (e.g., tasting the pages, handling the cover, smelling the book, imitating what the important people in their lives do with books).
  • Starts to develop a positive attitude toward reading if read to from birth.
  • Uses hearing of a familiar voice to form a bond with the mother and other caregivers.
  • By 16 weeks of age, infant is ready to listen to stories being read aloud.
  • Develops greater recognition of the sounds of language.
  • By 6 months, baby is capable of reacting to voice intonation and inflection of reader.
  • Demonstrates enjoyment of patterned language and rhyme by making sounds, smiling, making eye contact, and moving arms and legs.

Seven to Twelve Months

  • Continues to develop positive feelings toward reading through book-sharing experiences with adults.
  • Shows greater interest in details on the page by 7 months.
  • Uses developing pincer grip to handle books by 7 to 9 months.
  • Uses developing senses and reflexes to interact with books (grasps, manipulates, mouths, and bangs on objects).
  • Develops fine motor abilities to turn pages – though not always from front to back, or one at a time.
  • Increasingly imitates actions of others and begins to mimic adult reading (for example, by babbling along in tones that sound like reading, pointing to illustrations, and taking turns in turning the pages).
  • Uses sounds, facial expressions, or gestures to indicate interest, or disinterest in reading at particular times.
  • Imitates facial expressions and sounds and enjoys variations of "Peek-a-Boo" by 10 months.
  • Responds to 'song books' by rocking, bouncing, swaying, and humming.
  • Continues to follow pictures more closely than words.
  • May request that adults read by bringing them a book.
  • Can choose books to read based on preference and familiarity of the cover image.
  • May show preference for certain pages in books.
  • Near one year of age, starts to understand that pictures in books can represent known objects and starts to label objects in pictures.
  • At 11 months, recognizes words as symbols for objects – hears 'bird' and points to the sky; hears 'dog' and barks.
  • Increasingly anticipates words and gestures associated with familiar stories and songs.
  • By year one, baby's memory has improved, attention span is longer, and the toddler is able to actively manipulate books. This in turn affects the nature of the read-aloud.
For 13 months to 60 months, please see AT- A-GLANCE under "Reading".

Gellner, J. (2009). Children's Literature 0 – 60 Months: At-a-Glance. In L.M. Phillips (Ed.), Handbook of language and literacy development: A Roadmap from 0 – 60 Months. [online], pp. 1 - 2. London, ON: Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. Available at: Handbook of language and literacy development