What Reading Skills Do Kids Need to Succeed?

What Reading Skills Do Kids Need to Succeed?

It’s quiet in the house. You peek into the next room and see your son holding a book. “Are you reading an assignment for school?” you ask.

He smiles. “No, I’m done with my homework. I’m just reading for fun. Let me tell you what happened so far!”

As parents, few things fill us with the same happiness we feel in this moment. Seeing our child excited about reading brings us joy. Why?

For one, we know that learning to read is hard work. We’re proud of our children when they master the skills needed to read and understand a book. We’re aware that reading will bring them greater success.

But there’s something more going on – something deeper.

Readers have access to a world of thrilling adventures, fascinating knowledge, memorable characters, and fantastic places. We feel joy when we see our children become readers and discover this world for themselves.

In order to have this life-changing experience of getting lost in a good book, and to develop into a skilled reader and successful student, every child must go through several stages of reading development.

So, what are these stages? What do they look like? And which stage is your child in right now?

Stage 1: Pre-Reading

From the moment your child hears someone speak, he or she begins building language skills that are the foundation for learning to read. In Stage 1, which typically lasts from birth until the start of school, children discover how books and language work.

This stage is all about the building blocks of reading. Children learn the names and shapes of letters. They learn that the words they hear are made up of individual sounds. Children in this stage love playing with language, especially rhymes and nonsense words. This is all productive – your child is building an awareness of letters and sounds that he or she will need in order to learn to read.

Children in this stage can’t read yet, but they can develop a positive connection to books. When your child is in this stage, you’ll see him or her happily picking up books, playing with them, looking at the pictures, and possibly naming letters. If you read aloud to your child often, he or she will associate books with fun, warmth, and family. This will set your child up for a lifelong love of books, and it will also get him or her really excited to learn how to read in Stage 2.

Stage 2: Learning to Read

Once your child is familiar with how letters and language work, he or she is ready to learn to read.

In Stage 2, which begins in pre-school or kindergarten, children start using phonics to ‘break the code’ of written language. In other words, they learn to match letters to their sounds in order to sound out (or decode) words.

If your child is in this stage, you’ll see him or her working hard to decode short words in easy books. In fact, just about all of your child’s energy and focus will be spent on decoding words, and that’s as it should be – being “glued to print” is what this stage is all about. But, you’ll also witness the pride and triumph he or she feels from figuring out a new word or finishing a book.

It is hard work to get through an entire story when you’re reading it one. word. at. a. time. But with lots of practice, reading gets easier and easier and children start to read more smoothly as they enter Stage 3.

Stage 4: Reading for Learning & Absorption

After your child has achieved fluency – typically between late 2nd and 3rd grade – reading starts to pay off in exciting new ways. In Stage 4, two big changes happen for readers.

First, now that children have mastered basic reading skills, they shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” They are ready to use their skills to learn new information from sources like textbooks and other nonfiction. This is an exciting time for your child—reading nonfiction opens up a new world of information and ideas, and you’ll see your child exploring his or her interests and discovering new ones.  

Second – and even better – because the process of reading is now automatic, children can get fully absorbed in their reading.  During this stage, you’ll notice your child getting ‘lost’ in books. While reading, your child will actually feel like he or she is participating in the characters’ adventures. You may have to call your child’s name multiple times before he or she hears you! That is how thrilling and powerful it can be to get absorbed in a good book.

Stage 3: Developing Fluency

When your child has mastered basic decoding skills, he or she is ready to develop fluency. Children build fluency gradually during Stage 3, which usually starts around 2nd grade.

There are three key features to fluent reading: it’s accurate, it moves at a good pace, and it’s expressive.

At the beginning of this stage, you’ll hear your child trying to read out loud in the natural rhythm a person uses when speaking. You’ll hear fewer and fewer mistakes, and the reading will sound smooth, not choppy. Then, by the end of Stage 3, you won’t hear anything at all! Most children transition to silent, independent reading during this stage.

Achieving fluency will have a big impact on your child’s reading. It’s the key to strong comprehension. Children who read fluently don’t have to put as much effort into decoding words, so their minds are free to pay attention to the story. In this way, fluency acts as a bridge between decoding and comprehension. Eventually, the whole process of reading becomes second nature and your child is ready for Stage 4.

Once your child reaches Stage 4, it never ends. It’s an experience that will shape your child and have a lasting impact. But that doesn’t mean that reading development stops there.

Stage 5: Critical Reading

As students become more skilled readers, they gain a new ability to think abstractly and analytically.  At this point, your child will be ready to step back and focus not only on what he or she is reading but also on how to read it. 

Stage 5 usually begins in middle school, when reading assignments get much denser and more complex. To tackle this challenge, your son or daughter will learn new strategies that involve higher-level critical thinking, such as previewing new material, tracking main ideas, and monitoring comprehension.

Your child will also get more experience considering different points of view and forming personal opinions about what he or she reads.

Taking control of reading this way is the mark of a Stage 5 reader.  Back in Stage 4, your child gained full access to the rich and exciting world of books. Now, your child will have more and more opportunities to decide how to use the knowledge and insights found in books. He or she will continue growing into an independent reader and thinker.

Every reader is different and develops at his or her own pace. Give your child plenty of encouragement and opportunities to practice reading, and he or she will progress through the five stages and become a successful, lifelong reader who loves great books.

Understanding each stage of reading development and where your child is right now can help you provide the right support to move to the next stage.

Stay Up To Date

Subscribe to receive updates on reading programs offered in your area, and get access to more insightful articles and videos about your child’s reading development!

It’s quiet in the house. You peek into the next room and see your son holding a book. “Are you reading an assignment for school?” you ask.

He smiles. “No, I’m done with my homework. I’m just reading for fun. Let me tell you what happened so far!”

As parents, few things fill us with the same happiness we feel in this moment. Seeing our child excited about reading brings us joy. Why?

For one, we know that learning to read is hard work. We’re proud of our children when they master the skills needed to read and understand a book. We’re aware that reading will bring them greater success.

But there’s something more going on – something deeper.

Readers have access to a world of thrilling adventures, fascinating knowledge, memorable characters, and fantastic places. We feel joy when we see our children become readers and discover this world for themselves.

In order to have this life-changing experience of getting lost in a good book, and to develop into a skilled reader and successful student, every child must go through several stages of reading development.

So, what are these stages? What do they look like? And which stage is your child in right now?

Stage 1: Pre-Reading

From the moment your child hears someone speak, he or she begins building language skills that are the foundation for learning to read. In Stage 1, which typically lasts from birth until the start of school, children discover how books and language work.

This stage is all about the building blocks of reading. Children learn the names and shapes of letters. They learn that the words they hear are made up of individual sounds. Children in this stage love playing with language, especially rhymes and nonsense words. This is all productive – your child is building an awareness of letters and sounds that he or she will need in order to learn to read.

Children in this stage can’t read yet, but they can develop a positive connection to books. When your child is in this stage, you’ll see him or her happily picking up books, playing with them, looking at the pictures, and possibly naming letters. If you read aloud to your child often, he or she will associate books with fun, warmth, and family. This will set your child up for a lifelong love of books, and it will also get him or her really excited to learn how to read in Stage 2.

Stage 2: Learning to Read

Once your child is familiar with how letters and language work, he or she is ready to learn to read.

In Stage 2, which begins in pre-school or kindergarten, children start using phonics to ‘break the code’ of written language. In other words, they learn to match letters to their sounds in order to sound out (or decode) words.

If your child is in this stage, you’ll see him or her working hard to decode short words in easy books. In fact, just about all of your child’s energy and focus will be spent on decoding words, and that’s as it should be – being “glued to print” is what this stage is all about. But, you’ll also witness the pride and triumph he or she feels from figuring out a new word or finishing a book.

It is hard work to get through an entire story when you’re reading it one. word. at. a. time. But with lots of practice, reading gets easier and easier and children start to read more smoothly as they enter Stage 3.

Stage 3: Developing Fluency

When your child has mastered basic decoding skills, he or she is ready to develop fluency. Children build fluency gradually during Stage 3, which usually starts around 2nd grade.

There are three key features to fluent reading: it’s accurate, it moves at a good pace, and it’s expressive.

At the beginning of this stage, you’ll hear your child trying to read out loud in the natural rhythm a person uses when speaking. You’ll hear fewer and fewer mistakes, and the reading will sound smooth, not choppy. Then, by the end of Stage 3, you won’t hear anything at all! Most children transition to silent, independent reading during this stage.

Achieving fluency will have a big impact on your child’s reading. It’s the key to strong comprehension. Children who read fluently don’t have to put as much effort into decoding words, so their minds are free to pay attention to the story. In this way, fluency acts as a bridge between decoding and comprehension. Eventually, the whole process of reading becomes second nature and your child is ready for Stage 4.

Stage 4: Reading for Learning & Absorption

After your child has achieved fluency – typically between late 2nd and 3rd grade – reading starts to pay off in exciting new ways. In Stage 4, two big changes happen for readers.

First, now that children have mastered basic reading skills, they shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” They are ready to use their skills to learn new information from sources like textbooks and other nonfiction. This is an exciting time for your child—reading nonfiction opens up a new world of information and ideas, and you’ll see your child exploring his or her interests and discovering new ones.  

Second – and even better – because the process of reading is now automatic, children can get fully absorbed in their reading.  During this stage, you’ll notice your child getting ‘lost’ in books. While reading, your child will actually feel like he or she is participating in the characters’ adventures. You may have to call your child’s name multiple times before he or she hears you! That is how thrilling and powerful it can be to get absorbed in a good book.

Once your child reaches Stage 4, it never ends. It’s an experience that will shape your child and have a lasting impact. But that doesn’t mean that reading development stops there.

Stage 5: Critical Reading

As students become more skilled readers, they gain a new ability to think abstractly and analytically.  At this point, your child will be ready to step back and focus not only on what he or she is reading but also on how to read it. 

Stage 5 usually begins in middle school, when reading assignments get much denser and more complex. To tackle this challenge, your son or daughter will learn new strategies that involve higher-level critical thinking, such as previewing new material, tracking main ideas, and monitoring comprehension.

Your child will also get more experience considering different points of view and forming personal opinions about what he or she reads.

Taking control of reading this way is the mark of a Stage 5 reader.  Back in Stage 4, your child gained full access to the rich and exciting world of books. Now, your child will have more and more opportunities to decide how to use the knowledge and insights found in books. He or she will continue growing into an independent reader and thinker.

Every reader is different and develops at his or her own pace. Give your child plenty of encouragement and opportunities to practice reading, and he or she will progress through the five stages and become a successful, lifelong reader who loves great books.

Understanding each stage of reading development and where your child is right now can help you provide the right support to move to the next stage.

Stay Up To Date

Subscribe to receive updates on reading programs offered in your area, and to get access to more insightful articles and videos about your child’s reading development!

Make Next Year A BIG SUCCESS!

Make Next Year A

BIG SUCCESS!

Fluency Test

Fluency Test

If you think about the skills your child needs to succeed in school, good reading comprehension is probably at the top of your list. You know that if your child can read with strong comprehension, it will give him or her a big boost in all subjects. It’s also what makes reading enjoyable, and it helps make kids into lifelong readers.

If you think about the skills your child needs to succeed in school, good reading comprehension is probably at the top of your list. You know that if your child can read with strong comprehension, it will give him or her a big boost in all subjects. It’s also what makes reading enjoyable, and it helps make kids into lifelong readers.

So, what is comprehension, and how do kids develop it? What is the big payoff of strong comprehension?

What is comprehension?

Simply put, comprehension is the ability to understand what you read. It’s the reason we read — to get meaning from the words on the page.

Comprehension isn’t only about understanding the meaning of words and sentences, though. It’s about how your child actively engages with the story. The best way to think about comprehension isn’t just as a set of skills but what a good reader does while reading. When your child has strong comprehension, he or she can visualize what’s happening, identify with the main character, follow the events in the story, and anticipate what’s going to happen next.

Let’s take a closer look at what good readers do. When your child reads, he or she thinks about four elements that make up the world of a story:

  • Setting is when and where a story takes place. As soon as your child begins reading a book, he or she starts to figure this out. Does the story happen in a real or imaginary place? Does it take place in the past, present, or future? This helps your child visualize the story.
  • Characters are at the heart of any story, so your child needs to understand who they are and why they act the way they do. A good reader is curious and always asks questions: What’s this character like? How is the character like me, or not like me? How does he or she grow and change throughout the story?
  • Plot is what happens to the characters. The plot gives the story its structure, and your child will follow what happens in the beginning, middle, and end. Are the characters facing a problem at the beginning of the story? What’s going to happen next? How does the problem get solved?
  • Theme is the big idea that holds the whole story together. It’s what your child takes away from the story. Good books for young readers explore rich themes that your child can identify with, like friendship, overcoming fears, and growing up. This is where your child finds real meaning in books.

How do children develop strong comprehension?

Comprehension is what all reading instruction is about, so a few different skills come into play. Your child needs solid decoding skills to read the words themselves. Your child needs to read fluently, which means he or she can read accurately and at a good pace. Fluency frees your child up to pay attention to meaning. Your child also needs a strong vocabulary to understand the words.

Most importantly, your son or daughter needs to do lots of reading. This is, hands-down, the best thing to do to build strong comprehension. When all of these skills come together, it sets up your child to think deeply and really engage with the meaning of what he or she is reading. This is when reading really captures the imagination.

What’s the payoff?

Developing strong comprehension has a wonderful payoff: your son or daughter will experience the joy of being lost in a good book.

When your child reads with strong comprehension, the world of the story comes alive. Your child feels what the characters feel and experiences the adventures of the story right along with them. You’ll see your child get so lost in the story that you can hardly get his or her attention—that’s how thrilling and powerful it can be to get absorbed in a good book.

This is how kids fall in love with books, and how they start to see themselves as readers. The rewards are terrific and long-lasting. Not only does it give your child a big academic boost in all subjects but reading books will shape your child’s character and values in a really positive way. Your child will look to books as a way to learn and to have fun. As a source of inspiration. Your child will have a love of reading that lasts a lifetime.

Phonics Test

Phonics Test

If you think about the skills your child needs to succeed in school, good reading comprehension is probably at the top of your list. You know that if your child can read with strong comprehension, it will give him or her a big boost in all subjects. It’s also what makes reading enjoyable, and it helps make kids into lifelong readers.

If you think about the skills your child needs to succeed in school, good reading comprehension is probably at the top of your list. You know that if your child can read with strong comprehension, it will give him or her a big boost in all subjects. It’s also what makes reading enjoyable, and it helps make kids into lifelong readers.

So, what is comprehension, and how do kids develop it? What is the big payoff of strong comprehension?

What is comprehension?

Simply put, comprehension is the ability to understand what you read. It’s the reason we read — to get meaning from the words on the page.

Comprehension isn’t only about understanding the meaning of words and sentences, though. It’s about how your child actively engages with the story. The best way to think about comprehension isn’t just as a set of skills but what a good reader does while reading. When your child has strong comprehension, he or she can visualize what’s happening, identify with the main character, follow the events in the story, and anticipate what’s going to happen next.

Let’s take a closer look at what good readers do. When your child reads, he or she thinks about four elements that make up the world of a story:

  • Setting is when and where a story takes place. As soon as your child begins reading a book, he or she starts to figure this out. Does the story happen in a real or imaginary place? Does it take place in the past, present, or future? This helps your child visualize the story.
  • Characters are at the heart of any story, so your child needs to understand who they are and why they act the way they do. A good reader is curious and always asks questions: What’s this character like? How is the character like me, or not like me? How does he or she grow and change throughout the story?
  • Plot is what happens to the characters. The plot gives the story its structure, and your child will follow what happens in the beginning, middle, and end. Are the characters facing a problem at the beginning of the story? What’s going to happen next? How does the problem get solved?
  • Theme is the big idea that holds the whole story together. It’s what your child takes away from the story. Good books for young readers explore rich themes that your child can identify with, like friendship, overcoming fears, and growing up. This is where your child finds real meaning in books.

How do children develop strong comprehension?

Comprehension is what all reading instruction is about, so a few different skills come into play. Your child needs solid decoding skills to read the words themselves. Your child needs to read fluently, which means he or she can read accurately and at a good pace. Fluency frees your child up to pay attention to meaning. Your child also needs a strong vocabulary to understand the words.

Most importantly, your son or daughter needs to do lots of reading. This is, hands-down, the best thing to do to build strong comprehension. When all of these skills come together, it sets up your child to think deeply and really engage with the meaning of what he or she is reading. This is when reading really captures the imagination.

What’s the payoff?

Developing strong comprehension has a wonderful payoff: your son or daughter will experience the joy of being lost in a good book.

When your child reads with strong comprehension, the world of the story comes alive. Your child feels what the characters feel and experiences the adventures of the story right along with them. You’ll see your child get so lost in the story that you can hardly get his or her attention—that’s how thrilling and powerful it can be to get absorbed in a good book.

This is how kids fall in love with books, and how they start to see themselves as readers. The rewards are terrific and long-lasting. Not only does it give your child a big academic boost in all subjects but reading books will shape your child’s character and values in a really positive way. Your child will look to books as a way to learn and to have fun. As a source of inspiration. Your child will have a love of reading that lasts a lifetime.

Test Entry 2

Test Entry 2

If you think about the skills your child needs to succeed in school, good reading comprehension is probably at the top of your list. You know that if your child can read with strong comprehension, it will give him or her a big boost in all subjects. It’s also what makes reading enjoyable, and it helps make kids into lifelong readers.

If you think about the skills your child needs to succeed in school, good reading comprehension is probably at the top of your list. You know that if your child can read with strong comprehension, it will give him or her a big boost in all subjects. It’s also what makes reading enjoyable, and it helps make kids into lifelong readers.

So, what is comprehension, and how do kids develop it? What is the big payoff of strong comprehension?

What is comprehension?

Simply put, comprehension is the ability to understand what you read. It’s the reason we read — to get meaning from the words on the page.

Comprehension isn’t only about understanding the meaning of words and sentences, though. It’s about how your child actively engages with the story. The best way to think about comprehension isn’t just as a set of skills but what a good reader does while reading. When your child has strong comprehension, he or she can visualize what’s happening, identify with the main character, follow the events in the story, and anticipate what’s going to happen next.

Let’s take a closer look at what good readers do. When your child reads, he or she thinks about four elements that make up the world of a story:

  • Setting is when and where a story takes place. As soon as your child begins reading a book, he or she starts to figure this out. Does the story happen in a real or imaginary place? Does it take place in the past, present, or future? This helps your child visualize the story.
  • Characters are at the heart of any story, so your child needs to understand who they are and why they act the way they do. A good reader is curious and always asks questions: What’s this character like? How is the character like me, or not like me? How does he or she grow and change throughout the story?
  • Plot is what happens to the characters. The plot gives the story its structure, and your child will follow what happens in the beginning, middle, and end. Are the characters facing a problem at the beginning of the story? What’s going to happen next? How does the problem get solved?
  • Theme is the big idea that holds the whole story together. It’s what your child takes away from the story. Good books for young readers explore rich themes that your child can identify with, like friendship, overcoming fears, and growing up. This is where your child finds real meaning in books.

How do children develop strong comprehension?

Comprehension is what all reading instruction is about, so a few different skills come into play. Your child needs solid decoding skills to read the words themselves. Your child needs to read fluently, which means he or she can read accurately and at a good pace. Fluency frees your child up to pay attention to meaning. Your child also needs a strong vocabulary to understand the words.

Most importantly, your son or daughter needs to do lots of reading. This is, hands-down, the best thing to do to build strong comprehension. When all of these skills come together, it sets up your child to think deeply and really engage with the meaning of what he or she is reading. This is when reading really captures the imagination.

What’s the payoff?

Developing strong comprehension has a wonderful payoff: your son or daughter will experience the joy of being lost in a good book.

When your child reads with strong comprehension, the world of the story comes alive. Your child feels what the characters feel and experiences the adventures of the story right along with them. You’ll see your child get so lost in the story that you can hardly get his or her attention—that’s how thrilling and powerful it can be to get absorbed in a good book.

This is how kids fall in love with books, and how they start to see themselves as readers. The rewards are terrific and long-lasting. Not only does it give your child a big academic boost in all subjects but reading books will shape your child’s character and values in a really positive way. Your child will look to books as a way to learn and to have fun. As a source of inspiration. Your child will have a love of reading that lasts a lifetime.