Concepts of print...the forgotten pre-reading skill

Concepts of print is "the understanding of the elements of a book (print tells story, cover, title, author, beginning and ending, left to right and top to bottom sequence), sentences (meaning of a sentence, beginning and ending, role of capital letters and punctuation), words, and letters. ..." according to
So basically, it is everything you do while you are reading, but are never aware of; which is probably why I find it is a skill most pre-readers are lacking.  Most parents don't often teach a skill to their child that they aren't even aware they were once taught themselves.  Chances are that you were taught concepts of print in your kindergarten classroom.  You most likely had a teacher point out the most important skills in this category, such as:
  • words go left to right (at least in English)
  • words on a page have meaning
  • words make up sentences, which make up paragraphs, which make up a page, etc...
  • the important features that make a book: author, illustrator, front cover, back cover, spine
  • the sequence of events: beginning, middle, end
  • features of text: capitalization, punctuation, etc.
It is important that as a parent you help your child learn these skills BEFORE starting kindergarten.  This way they will have the building blocks to understanding that words in a book have meaning and that they will be able to understand their meaning as they begin to become readers.  This understanding is critical to creating eager readers. So with that said, the next time you read a book to your child, just take a minute to point out these features.  Play a game with him, and hold the book upside down as you start to read.  Do they help you turn it around?  Read the words right to left...does it make sense?  Sometimes appealing to their sense of humor helps them to understand that there is a right way and a wrong way to read a book.  Hopefully this will transition over to them wanting to show YOU the right way to do it...even if they make up the story!