Early Learning

The first years of a child's life are ripe with opportunities to build a firm foundation of literacy. Here are a few resources to help you along that journey. 

What are The Basics?

The_BasicsEighty percent of brain development takes place between birth and age three. Parents and caregivers are a child's first teachers. The Basics are five simple but powerful tools you can use every day to encourage brain development and literacy skills with your child.

The Basics:



Easy Ways to Maximize Love, Manage Stress

Babies thrive when they feel loved, safe, and secure. Having predictable routines, responding with kind words, and smiling are ways that you can make your child feel safe and secure.

  • Snuggle with your child to help them feel safe and loved.
  • Have a routine to help your child feel secure.
  • Have a contest to see who can make the silliest face or sound.
  • Be supportive and encouraging when your toddler wants to try new things.
  • Help your child learn about their feelings and let them know all feelings are OK. Let your child know that they can always talk about their feelings with you.
  • Parents and caregivers need a break too! Take a moment to breathe, take a walk, or do something you enjoy to relax. Reach out to friends, family, clergy, or doctors if you need to talk.



Easy Ways to Talk, Sing and Point

Baby sounds become words as children grow. Combining eye contact with a loving voice and pointing to an object will help babies and toddlers learn about the world around them.

  • Take a walk outside to explore. Point to both ordinary and interesting things, and talk with your child about what you see, hear, and feel!
  • Talk or sing about all the things you are doing, no matter what. The things adults do are fascinating to young children!
  • Use additional words to describe an object. For example, if your child points to a cat and says “Cat,” you can say, “Yes, that is a cat. It has gray fur and green eyes.”
  • Ask your toddler questions that start with “What…” or “Why…” or “Who…” Listen and respond to their answers.



Easy Ways to Count, Group, and Compare

A child’s brain is wired for math. Your child will learn to love math by talking about numbers, counting, shapes and patterns!

  • Count the number of items you pick up at the store. Talk about their shapes, colors, and size differences.
  • Have your child help with laundry! They can sort socks or other clothes by size or color.
  • Put two groups of toys next to each other, and help your child count each one. Next, make your hand an alligator’s mouth and have it “eat” the larger pile to introduce the concept of “greater than.”
  • Clap your baby’s hands together to the beat of a song or nursery rhyme.
  • Play a pattern game with your toddler by clapping your hands and asking them to repeat it and dance with you.



Easy Ways to Explore Through Movement and Play

Babies and toddlers learn about the world around them through their experiences. Investigate with your child as they go on daily adventures and help them to learn while they play.

  • Show your child new objects that are safe for them to handle. Things that older children and adults use every day can be fascinating to young children. Explain what the object is, what it looks like, and what it is for.
  • Pretend play allows a child to be creative and use their imagination. Play with your child or have them play with other children. They may imitate grown-up activities or create a whole new world of their own.
  • Babies and toddlers can learn by moving around. As babies reach, roll, scoot, or crawl, they learn more about their world. Take a walk, build a fort, create an obstacle course, or have a dance party with your toddler.


Easy Ways to Read and Discuss Stories

Make reading a part of each day. Reading for any length of time helps your child learn concepts they will need later for school, and it is a great opportunity for you and your child to spend time together.

  • Use different voices for characters as you read a story. 
  • Let your baby or toddler hold the book if they are able, or let them help you turn the pages. 
  • Choose books that are short, have thick pages, and includes lots of bright pictures. Point to the pictures in the book or describe what is happening in the story. 
  • Let your child tell you their version of the story.
  • Have two or three favorite books that you read together. Babies and toddlers learn through repetition. Adding new stories to read allows your child to see and learn new things.

Explore our collection for items that reinforce The Basics:

1000 Books Before Kindergarten Reading Challenge

1000-Books-logoResearch has shown that children get ready to read long before they enter school. Reading aloud to children from birth helps strengthen their language skills and build their vocabulary—two important tools for learning to read. We challenge you and your child to read 1,000 books before kindergarten (it’s easier than you think).

Win prizes and earn a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten certificate of completion!

Read books with your child. When you hit milestones, come to the library!Beanstack_Logo

  • Keep track of the titles that you read together by recording the titles in our Beanstack app or website or pick up a reading log at your nearest library (you can download your first log to get you started).
  • You can repeat books—as many times as you or your child wants.
  • Books read during story times, at daycare, or with a sibling count too.
  • And audiobooks count!

For every 100 books read to your child, visit your nearest CCPL location. Each library has a special recognition board for marking your child’s accomplishments.1000 Books Before Kindergarten Certificate of Completion

  • Read 500 books and earn a prize.
  • Read 1,000 books and earn another special prize and a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten completion certificate.