Environmental Print

By Maryela Garcia Garza

I decided to look at my children’s environmental print at home after reading chapter two in Frank Smith’s Reading Without Nonsense.  He states “As you stroll through a shopping mall you are bombarded by print from all sides and from above-product labels, packages, prices, posters, slogans, lists, directions, greeting cards, magazines, wrappers-much of which repeats print found in the home or seen on television or on computer monitors.”  I was curious to see how much print my own children are surrounded with on a daily basis.  Here is what I found:

I did not sit down and instruct my son on how to read those labels or how each word was sounded out.  He picked them up from daily interactions with them and from listening to his brother and sister.  At a very early age he understood that print has meaning. 

I took a stroll to our local grocery store and here is what I found:

When we walked down the aisle, there was a display from the movie “Toy Story”.  He recognized Toy Story immediately.  My daughter, who is eleven months older, has had more experience with print enough to recognize that the box read Buzz Light Year and not just the words Toy Story.  We went further down into the refrigerated section and my daughter wanted yoghurt.  She asked for yoghurt “like the one on t.v.”  I have experienced that television influences a lot of our children’s purchasing decisions, and television also gives children many experiences with print.

As we were driving home, he recognized the sign outside the Peter Piper Pizza restaurant and called it out.  This reminded me of how Smith states in his book, children at an early age “make sense of written language in exactly the same way they make sense of any other aspect of their visual experience, by relating what they see to its meaning, to the function it seems to fulfill in the world”.  Peter Piper Pizza had meaning to him.  It was a place where he’s gone to birthday parties, played fun games, was given neat prizes, and where mom and dad play with him.


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