If you pay attention to the current toys, television shows, and materials for children like Your Baby Can Read! you should notice a cultural shift to the promotion of literacy, especially early literacy skills. From older shows such as Sesame Street and Between the Lions to newer shows such as WordGirl, WordWorld, and Super Why! we see the push for phonological awareness skills and reading skills, which encompass rhyming, letter/sound naming and identification, sound segmenting and blending, and so on.
The available research clearly shows the importance of promoting literacy skills early, and the overall consensus is that oral language provides the building blocks for literacy. So if oral language is the foundation, and if we achieve language through quality language input, how is that input provided for infants and toddlers? Through play!
Besides daily care-taking routines that parents and children engage in (feeding, grooming, sleeping), the next most important activity they engage in (where crucial language input is provided) is play.
So, if appropriate play skills predict appropriate language skills, and if strong language skills predict literacy skills, then I see a clear link between play and reading.
I’m not suggesting reading to infants and toddlers is not valid and necessary; I am suggesting that perhaps there should be a greater, or at least equal, push for promoting quality play. My meaning of play, however, is where the play partner of the child is engaging the child and providing quality language input naturally but purposefully.
In a nutshell, let’s not bypass the building block of play because we’re so concerned that children be able to read.
As a personal example, both of my toddlers love books. From the time my four-year-old daughter was one, she would quietly sit on the floor going through baskets I had set around the house full of little books, and she would flip through the pages “reading” one book after another. I often find my two-year-old son sitting in a rocking chair in his room surrounded by books “reading.” He spontaneously points out characters and talks about the pictures. His big sister also helps him out, making up stories for him based on the pictures as though she is reading…and he believes every word!
Click here for full article: http://blog.asha.org/2013/02/28/my-baby-can-play-how-productive-play-promotes-literacy/