What does literacy mean for young children? The most basic definition of literacy is the ability to read and write. From an early childhood perspective, literacy also must include an understanding of what comes before learning to read—how we help children gain the skills and dispositions to make literacy a fundamental part of their daily lives, as well as something in which to take pleasure.

Building early literacy skills has been identified as a central feature of high-quality early education in the United States. That being said, understanding how to balance both explicit and implicit approaches to literacy instruction is a challenge for early childhood teachers. While implicit approaches—having excellent reading materials available and accessible, labeling materials with both words and pictures, and so forth—were traditionally ...

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