How One Learns to Read

If a child could give us a step by step account of how they learn to read, this is what they would say….this is after 1000 books read aloud and lots of talk!

"First I invent most of the words since I don’t know what a letter is or the names of many letters."

 
  • They pretend to follow the words with their finger and say something.

    "I use the pictures to help me tell the story."
 
  • When a child knows a story well, they may start to retell the story just by using the pictures.

  • It's o.k. to use pictures -- Using pictures is 1 way to understand what is happening in the story or to figure out tough words.

    "I often memorize the book -- I can read it with my eyes shut!"
 
  • Memorizing is a good thing at this stage!
    "Soon I learn to read the words that are on the page. I learn that the black marks are letters and that there are spaces between words."
 
  • When they start to say (…and they will if there has been lots of talk about books): “ Mommy what does this say/spell?”. Then you know they are starting to figure out print.
    "I learn the names and sounds of the letters. I look for little words inside big words and begin to sound out unknown words."
 
  • Start the learning the 10 little words that make up 25% of all reading: aofwas, andthatinthetoIisithe.
  • Show child examples of little words inside to big words: sat
    "I like to try to figure out the words by myself first."
 
  • Encourage your child use picture clues, and sounds that they know to help them to figure out tough words.
    "I learn that reading has to makes sense."
 
  • Using the picture to find clues.
  • Finding sound chunks in the middle of the word.
  • Making connections with what we already know about the story or topic.
  • Creating mental images about what is happening.
  • Asking questions before, during and after reading.
  • Skipping the word, reading to the end of the sentence, and coming back to it.
  • Asking someone for help.
    "Don't ever leave me struggling through a tough book. I feel good when I know most of the words."
 
  • Fluency, expression, understanding,…. all these skills develop quicker and with higher confidence when children have lots of opportunities reading easy books (Allington & Cunningham, 2002).