A smiling mom and her two children sit together reading a story. One child points to words on the page and one follows along

How to Strengthen Your Child’s Literacy Skills During Playtime

Print Awareness - What Is That? And What Does It Have to Do With Literacy Skills?

Does your child like to play with books as if they’re toys? Great news! Your child is beginning their important journey on the road to “print awareness”! Print awareness means understanding that printed words and images hold meaning.

Learning how to handle a book, the direction that print is read in, and the parts of a book (like the author, illustrator, and title) are important steps in your child’s print awareness development. When your child holds a book upside down, throws it, turns the pages the wrong way, or stops storytime so that they can turn back to their favorite illustration again and again, they are learning how books work!

Here are some easy ways to strengthen your child’s print awareness during playtime:

  • Make sure kids have easy access to books. Put some board books, soft tactile-based books, or picture books (or any other type of book that interests them) with their toys. This lets children take the initiative to pull a book out of their toy bin and begin to understand how it works. Libraries and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are great resources for acquiring books without any financial burden.
  • Incorporate books with bright colors & tactile elements (like crinkly material or velcro) into their toys. This can increase the appeal of books to children and engage their curiosity. When children are interested in books and play with them of their own accord, their print awareness is getting a big leg up!
  • Let kids help turn the pages during storytime. When they want to turn the pages themselves or close the book on their own, they are learning how a book works and strengthening their print awareness. Making storytimes a routine element in their day also helps them practice these early literacy skills. Perhaps even build storytime into their playtime routine for a way to wind down as playtime ends. When you read to them, be sure to point to the title of the book, tell children what authors and illustrators do as you read their names, point to words in repeated phrases, and have children repeat the word.

And remember: Children should always be supervised by an adult when playing with toys, heavier books, or books with sharp corners.

Three children read a book together. One holds the book up, one plays with a Craftie, and one follows along in the book.
In photo: The Adventures of Craftie Fox read-along audiobook, Storypod speaker, interchangeable sleeve, and Craftie Fox Craftie

Storypod can support your child’s print awareness and early literacy skill development in the following ways:

Storypod’s read-along audiobooks provide children with an excellent resource for developing their print awareness. From the lush, eye-grabbing illustrations in Pumpkin’s Fairytale to the sing-alongs in Planetpals, these read-along audiobooks are designed to engage your child’s imagination while encouraging them to interact with their books.

Children can listen to stories on their Storypod speaker and follow along in their own books. Their Storypod will even play sounds to help them know when to turn the page. Your little ones can play with Storypod’s paperback books, enjoy the illustrations, and have them incorporated into storytimes with you!

Storypod’s audio platform encourages play with interactive stories from beloved characters like Elinor Wonders Why and Daniel Tiger. Storypod even offers interactive trivia cards that are specifically designed to engage children’s imagination and bolster their early literacy skills. Trivia cards can increase children’s print awareness by matching corresponding text on the cards to colorful buttons on their Storypod speaker and to the answers to the questions asked.


  1. Saroj Ghoting, Early Childhood Literacy Consultant, The Five Practices And The Early Literacy Components Support Each Other
  2. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
  3. “Find A Library Near You” from World Cat: The world's largest network of library content and services