Penn State Center for the Book   Family Literacy
 

* Family Literacy Glossary

This list of terms and their defintions is provided to clarify any confusing terms that may be used in the Family Literacy resources. If you come across a term that you think belongs in this glossary, please send us an email stating the term and the Family Literacy webpage on which you found it.

Click on a letter to jump to a section:
A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M
  N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z
 



A

accept your child's speech instead of correcting it

Your child will make mistakes as she talks more. When she does, don't correct her. That might hurt her feelings, and make her afraid to talk. Instead, do these three things:

  1. First, listen and try to figure out what your child means.
  2. Then, answer her.
  3. Finally, if you can, restate her words correctly so that she hears her idea said the "right way."

In these examples, the adult follows those three steps:

CHILD

ADULT

Example #1

Child cries and says,
“He goed upstairs with my ball!”

Child says,
“Uh-huh!”

Parent listens and says,
“You are sad. You want your ball.”

Parent says,
“He went upstairs. Let’s go get it!”

Example #2

Child asks teacher,
“Who brang snack?”

Child says,
“Yum!”

Teacher listens and says,
“Gina did. Do you like it?”

Teacher says,
“Gina brought this yummy snack!”

ask them questions about the story

Try to ask your child at least three questions about each story you read to him. Ask questions that help your child pay attention to the story.

Some kinds of questions to ask your child are:

  • Questions about important facts:
    "How many wishes did the fairy give the man and his wife?"

  • Questions about why something is happening:
    "Why did the wolf want to know where Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother lived?"

  • Questions about what might happen next:
    "Do you think the prince will find her?"

  • Questions about whether or not your child likes things that happen in the story:
    "Would you like it if someone said that to you?"




B

book talk

When we talk about books, we often:

  • Use more words in our sentences.
  • Talk about what happened first, second, and so on.
  • Talk about why something did or didn't happen.
  • Use words that we don't say everyday, such as brontosaurus, pillar, examine.

book types

Books
All non-periodical hardcover volumes regardless of length, excluding coloring books, and all non-periodical softbound volumes over 48 pages.

Trade Books
Books designed for the general consumer and sold primarily through bookstores and to libraries ('trade' is in reference to the traditional trade markets these books are sold in). Though trade books were traditionally hard cover, in recent years more soft cover trade books have been common. Children's trade books are trade books designed primarily for children or for adults who read to children.

Mass-Market Books
Books sold predominantly through mass channels that extend beyond traditional trade outlets, such as book and department stores, to include newsstands, drug stores, chain stores, and supermarkets. Mass market paperbacks are usually printed on less expensive paper than trade paperbacks, and their covers are more likely to attract a mass audience.

Textbooks
Books designed for classroom use rather than general consumption. This category also includes workbooks, manuals, maps and other items intended for classroom use. Textbooks usually contain teaching aids, such as summaries and questions that distinguish them from consumer oriented materials (like trade books).

Book type definitions are courtesy of the website Publishing Central by Wendy J. Woudstra.





C

complicated sentences

Your child's sentences may become more complicated in any of these ways:

  • He uses four or more words in a sentence. He now says, "I want my ball" instead of just saying, "Ball."
  • He talks about "why." He now says, "Why do I have to go to bed?"
  • He talks about "because." He now says, "You can't have it because it's mine!"
  • He uses the pronouns--I, you, he, she, my, your. He now says, "I want your piece of candy!"




D

describing words

These adjectives and adverbs make language more specific. Some describing words your child will begin to use are:

  • big, little
  • tall, short, long
  • fast, slow
  • color words
  • loud, quiet
  • more
  • pretty, good
  • hard, soft
  • nice, mean




H

help writing

Here are some ways you can help your child learn to write:

  • Write the word or letter very lightly, so your child can write on top of your letters.
    write lightly
  • Write the word or letter so that your child can copy it right under your letters.
    write so your child can copy
  • Keep a printed alphabet handy & point to the letters so that your child can copy them.
    keep an alphabet handy
  • Describe how to make the letter. For example, say, "The letter T is a line straight down, with a short line across the top."
    describe writing the letter

horizontal strokes

Back and forth lines. Make a picture with your child, and ask your child to add the parts she can make with horizontal strokes.

make the sun's rays
color the inside of the flower
make stripes on the shirt
show the wind blowing




I

ideas about print

When you read to your child, she will learn many things about print. These will help her later when she learns to read. Some of these things are:

  • that books have a front and back.
  • that stories have a beginning and an end.
  • that books have an upside down, and a right side up.
  • that the print in a book tells us the story.
  • that we read the print and the words from left to right.
  • that we read pages from top to bottom.
  • that we read books from front to back.




K

kinds of questions that teachers ask in school

Sometimes teachers ask children questions to "test" them—to find out whether they know the answer. Some examples are:

  • "Do you see where the Teddy Bear is now?"
  • "Do you remember what the Mommy said?"
  • "Can you find a word that starts with an R, like your name does?"

Teachers also ask questions to give children a chance to "show off" and "practice" what they have learned.

  • "We were writing B's. Can you find a B on this page?"
  • "Can you show me the words that say the name of the story?"




L

learn new words more quickly

The kinds of new words your child will be learning by 24 months of age, mostly are:

  • names of objects and individuals: names of animals, clothing, household items, people, food, vehicles.
  • words that tell about changes and relations: no more, all gone, here, more, go bye-bye, no like, where go.
  • evaluative comments: Uh-oh! There! Oopsie! Big Boy! No!




M

mass-market books

Books sold predominantly through mass channels that extend beyond traditional trade outlets, such as book and department stores, to include newsstands, drug stores, chain stores, and supermarkets. Mass market paperbacks are usually printed on less expensive paper than trade paperbacks, and their covers are more likely to attract a mass audience. See the book types definition for further book type distinctions.

Book type definitions are courtesy of the website Publishing Central by Wendy J. Woudstra.

make shakers

make shakers

Make shakers from clean plastic drink cartons of various sizes. Fill the containers with items that will make a nice sound: bird seed, rice, beans, salt, pebbles. Glue the lids shut when you are finished. Children can hold them by the handles and shake as they step to the rhythm of music or poetry.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




N

natural as opposed to literary language

language that is similar to how we speak as opposed to how we write. Because of this it is easier to read and predict this kind of text. See the following examples:

Natural Language Literary Language
“I saw the truck.” “Then came a truck.”
“It snowed!” "Snow had fallen.”

non-fiction

Non-fiction books tell true stories. They are usually in a separate section in libraries and bookstores. When you and your child are looking for good books, be sure to look in this section, too. There, you can find many books on topics your child likes: bugs, cats, fire trucks, and twisters. You will often find poem books, song books, and folktales in the non-fiction section.





P

parts of speech

Your older toddler will be learning to use these kinds of words, but not always correctly:

  • Pronouns—Your child will use these words to refer to people: I, me, he, she, her, him.
  • Plurals—Your child will add an “s” to talk about more than one of something: trees, doggies.
  • Past Tense—Your child will talk about things that happened in the past: I went, We ate.

phonemic awareness

This is an important skill that helps children learn to read. Phonemes are the sounds letters make in words. When children pay attention to the letter sounds within words, we say they have phonemic awareness. If your child can hear the separate sounds in words, it will help her learn to read and spell better.

Songs and poems are great ways to learn phonemic awareness. You can also help by playing with the sounds in words, as you and your child talk together. Try some of these activities:

  • Make up silly rhymes with your child-- "hamburger, bamburger, slamburger."
  • Show your child how to make words longer by adding an ending-- "We are running, and talking, and laughing. Soon we will be eating, sleeping, snoring.
  • Try to say some words backwards-- "Daysun, Daymon, Daytues."

pretend read

Young children like to copy what others do. After you read your child a story, she may pretend to read it by:

  • turning pages, pointing to and talking about the pictures
  • turning pages and saying words that sound like reading
  • turning pages and retelling the story
  • turning pages and remembering some of the words from the story.

Most children pretend to read long before they learn to read. Pretend reading helps them learn about reading.

pretend or scribble writing

Your child might do scribble writing before he begins to write real letters and words. Scribble writing usually has some of the shapes and lines of real print. When it does, you know that your child is paying attention to print. That's a good sign! Here are some examples of scribble writing:

pretend writing

Enjoy your child's scribble writing. It means that your child wants to write. You don't need to correct it, but you can tell your child when his scribbles almost look like letters. Say, "These marks look like the letter O. Good for you. You made O's."

public print/environmental print

This is the print that your child sees all around her, everyday. She will learn to recognize it, if you point to it and read it to her. Your child can learn to read:

  • the word STOP on stop signs
  • the word EXIT on doors
  • names of stores and restaurants
  • names of favorite cereals and other foods
  • the words OPEN and CLOSED on stores
  • the words ENTER and EXIT on doors
  • numbers printed on calendars
  • names of storybooks or TV characters
  • names of favorite toys




S

scripts

These are consistent statements that adults say to guide children. Scripts often teach children about daily routines: what is going to happen, what we will do first, second, etc. Scripts help children organize their thoughts and their behaviors. Some examples of scripts are:

“Time to wash your hands. Then we will have lunch.”

“Go get your blanket and storybook, then Mommy will read to you while you lie down for nap.”

simple pictures

Your child may begin to draw simple pictures using circles and straight lines. Here are some examples:

bird drawing tree drawing
bug drawing face drawing

social referencing

This is a kind of important, early communication in which babies and toddlers look at their caregivers to get information. When the baby doesn't know how to react to something, she looks to her caregiver to tell her. For example, when someone offers a child a cookie, she looks at her mother for approval before taking it. Or when there is a loud, sudden sound, the baby looks to a caregiver to see if everything is OK. Babies who do this are more likely to pay attention to their parents and because they are learning that parents give good information.

make a sturdy book

Using pictures from around your home, make a sturdy book for your child. Try topics such as these:

“ __(your child's name)__'s Favorite Things
cut out pictures from:

  • toy brochures
  • catalogs
  • food boxes
  • newspaper advertisements
  • magazines

Print the name of each item in large letters under each picture. When your child talks about the pictures, you can read her the word, too.

“__(your child's name)_'s Birthday
use photographs or draw a picture of the party, the cake, friends who came. Glue in a party napkin, too. On one page, in large letters print the names of each person who came to the party.





T

trade books

Books designed for the general consumer and sold primarily through bookstores and to libraries ('trade' is in reference to the traditional trade markets these books are sold in). Though trade books were traditionally hard cover, in recent years more soft cover trade books have been common. Children's trade books are trade books designed primarily for children or for adults who read to children. See the book types definition for further book type distinctions.

Book type definitions are courtesy of the website Publishing Central by Wendy J. Woudstra.

true reading

This is when your child reads words because:

  • she really remembers what a word looks like
  • she knows how to sound out a word




V

vertical strokes

Up and down lines. Make a picture with your child, and ask your child to add the parts that she can make with vertical strokes.

make rain give the man hair
make branches give the dog legs
make grass make stripes


last updated 10/21/15
©2004 The Pennsylvania State University
U.Ed. LIB 03-64

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