Early Literacy at The New York Public Library
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Parents and caregivers are a child’s most important teacher. Help your child develop essential language skills by doing these early literacy activities together every day.
Read together every day, even if it is only for a few minutes. Many children love to hear the same stories over and over, so find favorites!
Talk throughout the day to your child. Point out what you are seeing and doing together, and ask lots of questions!
Sing songs and nursery rhymes! Rhymes help your child learn new words and develop listening and memory skills.
Encourage scribbling! Keep crayons and paper on a table where your child can practice.
Have fun together! Playtime helps children learn important language and social skills.
Visit your local library or see below for more resources to support your child—from books and story times to family literacy workshops and more!
Look out for these story times at your local branch!
Preschool Story Time | 3–5 years
The latest books and old favorites help introduce your preschooler to new vocabulary and reinforce learning. In preschool story time, children and their caregivers will enjoy stories, songs, rhymes, and movement while building language and literacy skills.
Toddler Story Time | 18 months–3 years
Once your child begins to walk, they belong in toddler story time, where they will sing and move, begin to recognize letters, share wonderful books, and develop pre-reading skills.
Baby Story Time | birth–18 months
Reading readiness begins at birth, and our programs for the youngest and their caregivers always include great books, fun songs, silly wiggles, lots of language, and time to get to know the other babies in your neighborhood.
Bronx Locations: Allerton, Belmont, Bronx Library Center, Castle Hill, Edenwald, Francis Martin, Grand Concourse, High Bridge, Hunts Point, Kingsbridge, Melrose, Morrisania, Mosholu, Mott Haven, Parkchester, Pelham Parkway-Van Nest, Riverdale, Sedgwick, Soundview, Tremont, and Westchester Square
Manhattan Locations: 115th Street, 42nd Street Children's Center, 53rd Street, 67th Street, Aguilar, Battery Park City, Chatham Square, Countee Cullen, Fort Washington, George Bruce, Grand Central, Hamilton Fish, Hamilton Grange, Harlem, Inwood, Mulberry Street, Roosevelt Island, Seward Park, St. Agnes, Tompkins Square, and Washington Heights
It's never too early for books and reading! Even very young babies love hearing stories and looking at pictures.
Set aside a special time for reading. Nightly bedtime stories work well for many families, but any time of day is good. Just find a cozy spot and get started.
Find favorites. Many children love to hear the same stories over and over. It comforts them and helps develop language skills.
Visit your local library. Libraries offer an array of free programs and resources—from books to story times and family literacy workshops.
You can also check out
ABC Read with Me in NYC
from your local library!
Learn more about how you can build your child's early literacy skills with these resources offered throughout New York:
Brooklyn Public Library: Offers a rich array of early literacy programs at its 59 locations throughout the borough.
Queens Library: Provides classes and events for children 0–5 and their families and caregivers.
Early Literacy Organizations
City's First Readers: Provides resources that support early reading development for children. An initiative by the New York City Council.
Jumpstart: Leverages the power of community and adult-child relationships to build key language and literacy skills.
Literacy Partners: Strengthens families by empowering parents through education.
Parent-Child Home Program: Provides the necessary skills and tools to build school readiness.
Reach Out and Read of Greater New York: Partners with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.
Literacy Inc.: Builds neighborhood networks that support young readers by working with school, library, and community partners.
Cool Culture: Helps families access 90 of NYC's cultural institutions for free.
Children's Museum of the Arts: Brings hands-on art programming to children throughout New York City.
Children's Museum of Manhattan: Helps children learn through creative environments that support play, imagination, curiosity, and discovery.
Children's Museum of Staten Island: Demonstrates through hands-on activities that learning can be exciting and fun.
Children's Museum of Brooklyn: Teaches children through exhibits in history, science, world cultures, and more.
The New Victory Theater: Transports children and families to other worlds through storytelling and performance.
New York City's Children's Theater: Creates original, entertaining, and enriching theater for children and adults to enjoy together.
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Information and resources for you and your child's health.
Little eLit: For educational apps, articles, and media.
WNET, THIRTEEN, PBS: Educational media for you and your child.
Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, The Early Learning Collaborative: Creates family engagement materials that promote discussion, early literacy, success in school, and beyond.
PBS KIDS: Educational games, videos, and resources for you and your child.
Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence: Information on prevention and protection.
Support for the Early Literacy Initiative was generously provided by the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Family Endowment for Young Audiences,The Lisa E. Javitch Early Literacy Initiative, the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, the Gray Foundation, New York State Library’s Family Literacy Library Services Program, the NYPL Council Committee for Education, Staten Island Foundation, HBO®, Richmond County Savings Foundation, The Sirus Fund, and an anonymous donor, with additional support through City's First Readers, an initiative made possible with funding from the New York City Council, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Antonio Reynoso and Council Member Stephen Levin.
Illustrations by Antonio De Jesus