Books on display at Cordova Public Library. (Oct. 29, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
Books on display at Cordova Public Library on Oct. 29, 2019. File photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith for The Cordova Times

By Terri Stavig 

There is a lot of new research available about the science of reading, and that new knowledge is being used currently in Cordova’s classrooms. The entire Cordova School District (Board, administration, teachers and assistant staff) have been working at implementing curriculum, learning new teaching strategies, and developing practices that will assist our children as they grow to become competent readers.  

You may have heard of the Alaska Reads Act – it is a law that was passed in 2022 with the goal of reading proficiency for each Alaska student by grade three. We all can feel comfortable with the efforts made by our local administrative team and teachers, as they have been proactive and have a head start on this statewide effort. 

The purpose of this article is to offer some ways parents – and all adults – can help young children start early to develop literacy skills. Included are some strategies to use at home and a short list of resources available for parents and/or caregivers to use with children aged zero to five. The research is very clear that the single most important thing we can do to prepare very young children for success is to read aloud to them. And yes, that includes infants. 

Research has shown that there are a few simple ways everyone can support infants and young children in developing literacy and communication skills. This can be understood by dividing a young child’s literacy experiences into groups: 

–Listen and Repeat: You repeating their sounds, expressions, and movements, as well as them mimicking you! Be patient with their repetitive behavior, it is an important sign of learning and development. 


–Show and Say: You pointing things out to them (showing) and then labeling it (saying).  Repeating helps them process the information they are learning. Eventually you begin asking them to describe the things they see and feel. 

–Talk, Talk, Talk: Infants need to hear and observe us talking to them as much as possible. It is hard sometimes to listen to your own constant monologue, but the more we expose them to dialogue, rhymes, stories and songs, the faster they develop language skills. 

–Books, Books, Books: While reading aloud, point out to your infant or toddler the pictures and words. Let them turn pages once they are able, it is ok to skip pages. Let them select the book to be read. Always make sure that read aloud time is a loving interaction between you and a child. 

Here are some additional resources for supporting young children in learning and loving literacy: “Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease;;; and

Terri Stavig is a CSD School Board Member.