Children, Youth, Families & Schools, Nebraska Center for Research on


Date of this Version



Hanna, J., Hinrichs, K., Mahar, C., DeFrain, J., & Durden, T. (2010, January). Relationships: The Heart of Language and Literacy. NebGuide G1987. University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Copyright University of Nebraska 2010


StoryQUEST’s Vision: High-quality early relationships and experiences throughout their daily routines provide each infant and toddler with the tools and skills to build a strong foundation for future school readiness. Families, caregivers, and communities as a whole collaborate to enable all children to become highly competent in language and literacy. This series was developed as part of a national research project — StoryQUEST — through the California Institute on Human Services, Sonoma State University.

Learn communication strategies that will help your infant and toddler develop language and literacy skills. This is the fourth publication in a series of nine.

Infants and toddlers learn early language and literacy skills in the context of their relationships with the adults around them, as if they are putting together a puzzle.

Most of the puzzle pieces involve taking turns — your turn, my turn, your turn, my turn.

The turns might be with actions or with talking. The turns might be very quick or rather slow.

The turns might be “peekaboo” or building with blocks or “giving five” or repeating an attempt at a word or an animal sound.

Remember: It is ping-pong, not pool. Young children and adults take turns, one then the other.