The ABC's of Reading - Letter Recognition  

Helping children with reading can appear to be a daunting task.  You may be asking yourself; Where do I even begin? 

We are here to help!

Each month, we will provide different books and activities to break down this large task while still having fun! 

Let’s start at the beginning...Letter Recognition and Single Letter Sound.  Establishing letter recognition is very important. You can practice anywhere! The key is repetition. 

Fast Tip- Use upper case letters first. Once your child has a grasp on upper case, you can introduce lower case letters.  

Here are some fun books you can read with your child to help identify the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make. 

Activities to Try

Alphabet Soup

This “souper” fun activity is a great way for your child to practice letter recognition and letter sounds. 

To begin:

  1. Fill a large plastic container ⅔ full of water. 
  2. Then add 10 to 12 plastic letters and a ladle to the container. 
  3. Place a small bowl and a spoon next to the large container. Have your child (you too) put on a pretend chef hat. Invite your little one to stir the pot and scoop out a letter while chanting:

“Stir the soup, it makes it taste better.

 Now use the ladle to get a letter!”  

  1. Have the child use the ladle to pull out any letter of their choosing and tell you what letter it is and/or its sound. 
  2. Then place the letter in the small bowl.

Extend and Explore:

Talk about the sound the letter makes and think of a word that begins with that sound.

Make some recipe cards.  Read the cards to your little one, asking them to retrieve the necessary letters for the recipe. “This recipe needs a letter C and a letter E. Then, the recipe tells us to stir the letters together to make a yummy treat.”

Variation of the Activity:

Don’t want to use water? Modify the activity by placing the plastic letters in a pot, and retrieve the letter(s) using tongs or a large cooking spoon. Continue the activity as directed above.


Sensory Writing Trays and Sensory Play

You can make a sensory tray using ingredients found in your kitchen (salt, sugar, baking soda, just to name a few) and use what works best for you and your family.  The easiest way to create the writing tray is to use a thin layer of the ingredient you choose. 

The purpose of the tray is to allow young children to practice letters or pre-writing strokes without the stress of trying to write on lines with a pencil.

To begin:

  1. Model letter formation on the tray, making sure letters are formed from top to bottom. 
  2. Have your little one trace the letter if necessary. Children can use the pointer finger of the dominant hand to trace the letter.
  3. After forming the letter with their finger, kids can gently shake the tray from side to side to “erase” the writing. 
  4. Cards can be used as a visual model for forming letters. Position the cards inside the tray for near-point copying.
  5. For a younger child, simply making different sorts of lines (diagonal, horizontal, and zig-zag) is great pre-writing practice as well.

Extend and Explore:  

*Other writing “tools” may include items found in the home such as: craft stick, chopsticks, cotton swab, or eraser end of a pencil. 


Letters are Everywhere! 

No matter where you go, you have an opportunity to see letters, at the grocery store, in the library, on clothes!  What better way to review and practice the alphabet than to see letters in everyday life?  Seeing letters in a variety of fonts, colors, and sizes, will also help your child get ready for reading. 

Here are some activities you can practice anywhere!

  •  You can play "I spy” on a walk “I spy something that makes the mmmmmm sound.” See if your child can identify what makes that sound. 
  • If you are at a restaurant, you can have your child point to different letters they see on the menu. “Can you find all the T’s and S’s?”
    If you are getting groceries, before entering the store, pick a letter or two that your child can find while shopping. “Can you find the letter B throughout the store?” “Can you find items that make the “B” sound?”

Have fun while exploring letters and sounds!  


Next month we will be blogging on vowels!  Stay tuned! 


Be sure to check out our Beginning and Early Reader Kits, available in the YS Department. 



Youth Services Assistant Librarian Erin

 Youth Services Assistant Librarian Karen