The PEAL Center
Helping Families of Children with Disabilities and Special Health Care Needs
412-281-4404 (Pittsburgh)
215-567-6143 (Philadelphia)
866-950-1040 Toll Free
412-281-4409 TTY

Help Topics


Photo of kids in a classroom learning letters

"All students should have the opportunity to receive literacy instruction in a way that is meaningful for them."
—Keefe & Copeland

Let's Play! Building Literacy and Language Into Every Day

Play in early childhood is vitally important to learning. It is through play that children begin to develop stories with one another about how the world works. Language/Literacy growth begins as soon as the child begins to explore and make sense of the surrounding world. Unfortunately, many adults do not recognize this and don’t know how to think about communication and language for young children other than through speech alone.

Let's Play, Building Literacy and Language into Every day (book cover) Let’s Play: Building Language and Literacy into Every Day is a Language/Literacy Resource Guide that will help parents know what to look for so they can see the beginning stages of language and literacy development in their young children, both with or without disabilities. Parents will learn how to balance an interest in the young child’s speech with opportunities to develop, use and strengthen the other language systems to support the expansion of early speech efforts.

An overwhelming amount of research now demonstrates that all language systems develop together (“Concurrent Model of Language/Literacy Development”). We cannot separate the literacy community from the social community. This packet of information shows how language, symbols and thinking or cognition develop in interaction. We regret that hard copies of the packet are no longer available however, all of the resources, in Spanish and in English, can be downloaded for free, by clicking on the links provided.

If you are interested in a copy, email

Samples of CELL Practice guides:

This packet was produced with funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education through the State Personnel Development Grant, CDF 84.323A, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Poster for Literacy Instrauction Workshop
Meaningful Participation in Literacy Instruction Across the Curriculum: How to Make it Happen

All students can and do benefit from literacy instruction when the instruction is appropriate for their learning needs and when they are provided the supports they require to learn. Participants at this conference learned to differentiate the basic components of effective literacy instruction across the curriculum to meet the individual needs of students. Strategies for learners with the full-range of disabilities, including those with extensive needs for support, were addressed through discussion, demonstration, and hands-on learning activities.

Handouts from the conference included:
  • "What is Literacy? The Power of a Definition" by L. Keefe & S. Copeland
  • "What is Literacy? The Power of a Definition" Article Summary
  • "Reading, Writing, and Friendship: Adult Implications of Effective Literacy Instruction for Students with Intellectual Disability" by A. Forts & R. Luckasson
  • "Meaningful Participation in Literacy Instruction Across the Curriculum: How to Make it Happen"
  • "Personal Literacy Action Plan"
  • "Wordless Picture Books" List