Building Background Knowledge, An Essential Tool for Reading and Learning

As a parent, you are your child’s first and best teacher. You have the amazing and terrifying job of introducing your child to the world around them. The more information your child has about the world, the better reader they will be. This is called background knowledge.

Building background knowledge helps us make sense of new concepts and experiences and leads to greater reading comprehension. Take advantage of your child’s natural curiosity about the world and give them multiple opportunities to learn. One way to build your child’s background knowledge is by reading together every day. Make it a habit to read all kinds of books that introduce your child to a variety of people, places, experiences, and ideas!

Here are a few activities and strategies for reading that will help build your child’s background knowledge. These tips work best for ages 3-5.

Group words into categories

Talk about different kinds of footwear. Boots, flats, heels, platforms, sneakers- these are all kinds of shoes that we wear on our feet! Go on a scavenger hunt to find the different types of shoes in your house.

New Shoes

Those Shoes

Compare and contrast

Develop your child’s background knowledge and critical thinking skills by sorting objects into different categories. You can do this with many common household items, such as buttons, fruits and vegetables, toys, socks, silverware, and more! Compare and contrast fruits and vegetables, or ask your child to sort socks by color or size. Ask your child how they are alike and different. Let them come up with their own sorting categories, too, and ask them how they did it.

Gray Rabbit's Favorite Things

Sam Sorts

Dive deep into your child’s interests

If your child loves a topic- read everything you can find about it together! Is your child fascinated by the natural world? Do they love animals? Do they wonder what grownups do all day? Here are a few books to enjoy together.

Planting A Rainbow

Lola planta un jardín

Lola Plants A Garden

Feathers and Hair

Baby Animals Playing

What Do Grown-ups Do All Day?

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do

-Davida, Children's Librarian, Joel D. Valdez Main Library


Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play!

Reading helps children understand how text works and positions them to increase their language and literacy skills throughout their lives.

Read more about early literacy and how you can make a difference in your child's life.