Cover Graphic

Engaging Children with Print

Building Early Literacy Skills through Quality Read-Alouds

Laura M. Justice and Amy E. Sofka

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
February 4, 2010
ISBN 9781606235362
Price: $79.00
214 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
February 8, 2010
ISBN 9781606235355
Price: $29.00
214 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
December 17, 2013
Price: $29.00
214 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (PDF) ?
Price: $58.00 $31.90
214 Pages

Preschool teachers and early childhood professionals know that storybook reading is important, but they may not know how to maximize its benefits for later reading achievement. This indispensable guide presents research-based techniques for using reading aloud to intentionally and systematically build children's knowledge of print. Simple yet powerful strategies are provided for teaching preschoolers about book and print organization, print meaning, letters, and words, all while sharing engaging, commercially available books. Appendices include a detailed book list and 60 reproducibles that feature activities and prompts keyed to each text.

“I helped coordinate a statewide preschool literacy program that drew on the ideas in this book, and I highly recommend it. It is a user-friendly guide to building early literacy skills in our youngest learners. Teachers will appreciate the numerous materials and practical, specific examples. An excellent resource!”

—Kathy Knighton, MA, Program Coordinator, West Virginia Department of Education

“An invaluable resource. Written in straightforward language and filled with explicit descriptions and examples, this book focuses on the importance not only of reading to children, but of doing so in ways that accelerate their literacy development. From a research perspective, I appreciate how the authors detail the classroom-based studies that support their approach. From a practical perspective, readers will enjoy the wealth of teaching strategies related to specific picture books. I look forward to sharing this book with reading coaches, interventionists, and teachers in early childhood classrooms, as well as with preservice teachers enrolled in an Early Literacy course.”

—April Whatley Bedford, PhD, Chair, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of New Orleans

“A significant addition to the literature on emergent literacy. Justice and Sofka provide teachers with a solid understanding of how children naturally view print around them and how the quality of materials and interactions with adults begin to shape and expand this understanding. Teachers will be enlightened and encouraged by the practical instructional strategies and sample dialogues. This book will move teachers and children beyond rudimentary or accidental forms of instruction into more deliberate and meaningful experiences with print.”

—Terri Purcell, PhD, Department of Teacher Education, Cleveland State University

“Justice and Sofka show us how to engage young children with print in ways that enable them to 'take off' in formal reading instruction later on. This book is evidence based and scholarly, yet user friendly and instructionally transparent. The 30 Sit Together and Read (STAR) lesson plans in the back of the book are elegant models for targeting specific print skills with specific books. Finally—a practical guide that weds language development and emergent literacy theory in the context of socially responsive, sensitive, print-rich activities.”

—Marcia Invernizzi, PhD, Henderson Professor of Reading Education and Director, McGuffey Reading Center, University of Virginia

“This unique book provides the scientific evidence for promoting children's early literacy growth through interaction with text. Beautifully written and clearly organized, the book offers teachers a blueprint for providing read-aloud experiences of the highest quality. It takes the oft-repeated refrain 'we should read to our children' and shows exactly why and how. A 'must read' for early literacy professionals and students.”

—Anne E. Cunningham, PhD, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley

Table of Contents

1. Entering a World of Print: Young Children’s Development of Print Knowledge

2. Fostering Children’s Engagement with Print

3. Calling Attention to Print: The Nuts and Bolts

4. Matching Books with Print-Knowledge Targets

5. Scaffolding Children’s Learning: Using High- and Low-Support Strategies

Appendix A. Trade Books for Calling Attention to Print

Appendix B. Scope and Sequence of Storybooks for 30-Week Reading Program with Print-Knowledge Objectives Tracking Sheet

Appendix C. STAR Target Cards for 30-Week Reading Program

About the Authors

Laura M. Justice, PhD, is Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University. She has published nearly 100 articles, chapters, and reports on early education and language and literacy intervention, as well as 10 books. Dr. Justice is a recipient of the Editor’s Award from the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology; the Early Career Publication Award from the Council for Exceptional Children, Division for Research; and the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from the United States government.

Amy E. Sofka, MEd, is presently serving as Project Director for two federally funded research studies: Preschool Experiences in Rural Classrooms (Project PERC) and Project Sit Together and Read (STAR), both conducted within the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia. She has worked together with Dr. Justice on Project STAR since 2005. Ms. Sofka is the author of several articles and chapters describing approaches to supporting children’s development within preschool settings, and has coauthored tools to assess teacher implementation of these approaches.


Preschool teachers and early childhood professionals; reading coaches; principals; staff developers.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in advanced undergraduate- or graduate-level courses such as Teaching Preschool.