Two-year-olds are laying the groundwork for reading and writing. They enjoy reading books with adults, and may independently look through familiar books and pretend to read. Two-year-olds can sing the A-B-C song, but they don't yet understand that the letter names correspond to specific graphic designs. They also make a variety of scribble marks anywhere and everywhere, and may even attempt to write the first letter of their name.
Delights in hearing nursery rhymes, and begins to recite familiar phrases of songs, books and rhymes. May chime in on rhyming words when adult reads aloud a familiar, predictable text book. Acquiring an awareness of sounds can be nurtured by frequent exposure to nursery rhymes and songs, in both infancy and toddlerhood. Other stimulation can come from adult interaction and frequent exposure to simple predictable text books.
Looks at books and inspects pictures. Holds a book right side up based on knowledge of the proper positions for objects pictured. By the end of this year, goes from front to the back of familiar books, and page by page.
During the first half of this year, most children have short attention spans for stories and are easily distracted. Simple event "stories," such as The Snowy Day and Goodnight Moon, as well as predictable text books, such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear and I Went Walking, are of interest to many children.
By late in this year, many children retell simple, predictable text books, while turning the pages and using the pictures to prompt recall. Also, many children look through picture books, magazines, catalogs, etc. as if reading.
May turn pages to find a favorite picture in a familiar book. May name items pictured in books and repeat comments about events and actions depicted.
Children ask "What's that?" and "What's he/she doing?" Children answer some "what" and "who" questions posed by adults.
Interest and enjoyment of books is highly variable, depending on availability of books and whether adults spend time sharing these with children in positive ways. May choose books from among toys to entertain self.
Begins to recognize some frequently-seen signs and symbols in the environment that contain print (e.g., stop signs, logos, product packaging, fast food signs), but does not pay attention to the actual print in these displays.
Continues to make scribble marks, but a larger variety of marks is used. Zig-zag scribbles may appear by the end of this year, and might be labeled by the child as "a letter" (not an alphabet letter, but a type of written document). Separated, tight scribble marks might be created on paper, along with continuous looped scribbles or zig-zag scribbles.
By the end of this year, some children may try to write the first letter of their name. The mark for this letter may resemble the actual letter with respect to a basic feature (e.g., closed, such as when "O" is made for "D"), but rarely is completely conventional in form.
A child's fine motor skills, knowledge of letter shapes and his or her basic understanding of the characteristics of writing vs. drawing (linear arrangement) will determine whether writing is produced during this year, and the features it will have. Attempts at writing letters are typically large for most children and fill most of a piece of paper.
A child's immature grasp (rigid hand grasp) of a marking tool requires that its movement be made by moving the muscle of the upper arm. This type of movement causes writing to be quite large, given the distance from the point of movement to the end of a writing tool.
Makes marks anywhere and everywhere. For most of this year, has no awareness of the organization of writing vs. drawing. By the end of this period, a few children have begun to place their scribble writing linearly, often in rows, which captures an essential general feature of writing vs. drawing.
Has an emerging understanding of the uses and formats of writing. By the end of this year, some children make marks, present these to an adult, and say, "A letter for you," or "My name."
Has no written word creation strategies.
With considerable adult guidance, children begin to relate information verbally. The adult fills in many details, and organizes these into more coherent communications. Development of this skill is influenced by verbal interactions with adults that support the telling of recent personal experiences.
May become familiar with the A-B-C song and sing it, but without knowing that the letter names recited label individual graphic designs. By the end of this year, some children (20%) recognize and label a few letters, especially the first letter in their own name, and perhaps other letters in their name. By the end of this year, many children (70%) do not know the names of any letters. Also by the end of this year, a few children (10%) know most uppercase letters.
Acquisition can be stimulated by repeated exposure to the alphabet song and alphabet letters in books and play materials (e.g., magnetic letters), interactions with adults who name the letters, exposure to one's name, and having an adult name the letters in one's name.