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

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Developmental Milestones

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 Developmental Milestones for Reading.


0-6 months

Recognition, Response and Imitation
Starts to develop a positive attitude toward reading if read to from birth.
Finds out about books through the senses (ex: tasting the pages, handling the cover, smelling the book, imitating what the important people in their lives do with books).
Uses hearing of familiar voices to form a bond with mothers and other caregivers.
Gazes longer at faces than at objects at about 1 month of age.
By 16 weeks of age, infant is ready to listen to stories being read aloud.
Recognizes emotions in facial expression by 4 months.
Infant can show disgust, fear, anger, happiness and boredom with facial expressions and sounds by 5 months of age.
Develops increased recognition of the sounds of language.
By 6 months of age, baby is capable of reacting to voice intonation and inflection of reader.
Imitates facial expressions associated with emotions by 6 months of age.
Demonstrates enjoyment of patterned language and rhyme by making sounds, smiling, making eye contact, and moving arms and legs.

7 - 12 months

Increase in Recognition, Response, Imitation, and Manipulation Abilities
Continues to develop positive feelings toward reading through book sharing experiences with adults.
Concentrates attention on, and shows greater interest in illustration details on a page by 7 months of age.
Uses developing pincer grip to handle books (7 to 9 months).
Uses developing senses and reflexes to interact with books by grasping, manipulating, mouthing, and banging 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.
Wants to be included in social interactions by around 7 months of age.
Uses sounds, facial expressions, or gestures to indicate interest or disinterest in reading at particular times.
Recognizes pleasant or playful tone of voice used for reading.
Follows with eyes, by 8 months of age, to what someone points to.
 Able to recall past events by 8 months.
By 9 months, can follow simple instructions.
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 stories.
May request that adults read by bringing them a book.
Can choose books to read based on preference and familiarity of the cover images.
May show preference for certain pages in books.
At 11 months of age, recognizes words as symbols for objects – hears "bird" and points to sky; hears "dog" and barks.
Speaks a few intelligible words by around 11 months of age.
Increasingly anticipates words and gestures associated with familiar stories and songs.
Near one year of age, starts to understand that pictures in books can represent real objects and starts to label objects in pictures.
By year one, your baby's memory has improved and attention span is longer, and baby is able to actively manipulate books, which affects the nature of how parents and caregivers now read aloud with baby.

13-60 Months

Please see Developmental Milestones under Reading

Gellner, J. (2009). Children's Literature: Developmental Milestones. In L.M. Phillips (Ed.), Handbook of language and literacy development: A Roadmap from 0 – 60 Months. [online], pp. 1 - 3. London, ON: Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. Available at: Handbook of language and literacy development