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Early literacy helps children develop into lifelong readers.

Early literacy is developing your child’s skills to become lifelong readers and learners. These skills are built from parent/child interaction and positive experiences. Here are the Five Early Literacy Practices that grow readers:


  • TALK:  The more words your baby hears, the more prepared they are for reading.
  • SING: Singing with your child builds math and word-knowledge.
  • READ: Reading with your child builds strong family bonds and shows them reading is fun and valued.
  • WRITE:  Basic early hand movements build skills they will need for writing.
  • PLAY: Simple baby and preschool games improve your child’s thinking skills and prepare them to read.

Introducing HCPL’s Early Literacy Initiative : Growing Readers


Growing Readers helps children form the skills they need to become strong readers and learners. Growing Readers makes fun and games the building blocks of early literacy through Talk, Sing, Read, Write, and Play to prepare your child to succeed in school!

Growing readers is for caregivers and children from birth to preschool. We have divided our program into 4 age groups: Little Seeds (Prenatal), Little Sprouts (Babies from Birth to 18 Months), Little Buds ( Toddlers 18 months to 3 years old) and Little Readers ( Preschool 3-5 Years old) 

Explore below to see all that HCPL has to offer for Growing Readers.

Mother reading to Baby


Early Literacy Components

Story Times
Come to Story Times at your library for stories, songs, games, and crafts. Libraries offer Story Times for children birth to preschool.

Story Times help your child learn early literacy skills in a family-friendly space. HCPL branches offer a variety of story times for children as they grow, from infant lapsits, baby times, toddler times, pre-school story times, as well as story times for school-age children. Each offer age-appropriate stories and activities designed to spark your child's love of reading in a fun and safe atmosphere. Click on Events to find the story times that is right for your child.  

Go to Story Times in Events or Watch online Story Times here: HCPL Story Time for Kids! A Good Day by Kevin Henkes with a Special Guest

Family Learning Centers
At HCPL, early literacy is a family affair.

HCPL has two types of Family Learning Centers - Family Place Libraries and Save the Children Area- at branches throughout the county.

Family Place Libraries

Family Place Libraries builds on the knowledge that good health, early learning, parental involvement and supportive communities play a critical role in a young child’s growth and development. Each Family Place Library features specially trained staff and uniquely designed spaces.

All 11 George and Barbara Bush Family PlaceTM Libraries were made possible by a generous grant from the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation .

Save the Children Areas

Save the Children Areas were made possible from a generous grant from the Save the Children Foundation. Aldine Branch Library, Katherine Tyra Branch Library @ Bear Creek, and Spring Branch Memorial Branch Library all have play areas with early literacy toys, child friendly furniture, and parenting resources.


1000 Books Before Kindergarten
Watch the numbers grow as your child grows. HCPL libraries provide free bookmarks, reading logs, and books to checkout!  

1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a national initiative that encourages caregivers and their children to share the joy of reading and prepare their children for future academic success.

1000 Books sounds like a lot, but remember all books count to reach this goal.

One book a day = 365 books a year! One Story Time a week, for a year = 156 books.  You got this and HCPL will help.

Join the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten reading challenge on Beanstack to track your reading progress.

Activity Kits
Weekly programs at the library and downloadable to help your child's literacy

A 5-week activity kit program specially designed for Little Buds (toddlers) and Little Readers (3 years – 5 years). Each week, pick up a fun, free activity kit that will focus on one of the 5 Early Literacy practices (Talk, Sing, Read, Write, and Play). Kits have step-by-step instructions that grow readers through books and play.

Participants must register at their HCPL branch. Registration began on January 10, 2022. Spaces are limited, but no worries, if you missed registration we have videos available for you to view and repeat the activities with materials at home.



Little Buds Activity Icons

Print Little Buds Activity sheets


Little Readers - Talking graphic

Print Little Readers Talking Activity Sheets


Little Readers - Singing

Print Little Readers Singing Activity Sheets


Little Readers - Reading

Print Little Readers Reading Activity Sheets


little readers - writing

Print Little Readers Writing Activity Kits


little readers - playing

Print Little Readers Playing Activity Kit


skill-building fun for busy families

Make early literacy a part of your daily routine! Flashcards tell you how to do fun activities that help learn the skills to grow strong readers. We have sets designed for three age groups: that are available while supplies last, at your library or you can download them below.

English Español
flashcards - prenatal and babies in English

Print flashcards for prenatal and babies

flashcards - prenatal y bebé en Español

Imprimir flashcards para prenatal y bebés

flashcards for toddlers in English

Print flashcards for toddlers

flashcards for niños pequeños in Español

Imprimir flashcards para niños pequeños

flashcards for preschoolers in English

Print flashcards for preschoolers

flashcards for preschoolers en Español

Imprimir flashcards para niños preescolar



Other Online Resources
Explore the Library’s online early literacy content.

Explore the Library’s online early literacy content. Listen to audiobooks. Read interactive books.




Bright By Text

Bright by Text is for anyone who cares for and loves a child, prenatally through age 8: parents, parents-to-be, grandparents, babysitters, aunties, uncles, neighbors, friends, teachers, and more.

Bright by Text is a text messaging service that provides free tips, information, and resources for parents and caregivers. The curated content comes from trusted partners like PBS and Sesame Street. Messages are targeted to a child’s age and include information on development, language and early literacy, health and safety, behavioral tips, and more.

Sign up for this text service here  Bright by Text is completely free, but message and data rates may apply.

Early Literacy Playlist

Videos to help your Growing Reader
Online Storytimes from your favorite HCPL librarians!