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  • Writer's pictureAuthor - Angela Nettuno

What Is Reading Readiness?

Reading readiness means just that: a child’s readiness to learn to read.

Before a child can learn to read he must master the majority of these pre-reading skills.

  1. The child must understand basic “ letter awareness.” This includes recognizing most of the letters of the alphabet, and knowing the sounds they make.

  2. The child must understand that letters make up words, words make up sentences, and sentences make up stories.

  3. The child must understand basic “book awareness” principles. Reading follows a natural left to right and top to bottom progression. If you hand a book to a child who has been read to and has incorporated basic “book awareness” principles into his knowledge base he will know how to hold the book so that it opens right side up, with the binding on the left. In addition, the child will demonstrate left to right progression as he reads the left page first, then the right. Finally, he will read the words on each individual page from left to right and top to bottom.

  4. The child can recognize most of the 220 sight words on the Dolch Sight Word list for preschoolers and kindergarteners. Sight words are words that a child can simply recognize from sight (memory) and doesn’t need to sound out (many cannot be sounded out). Sight words are the most common words Picture and Predictable Books in many children’s books and beginning readers; i.e., this, that, who, he, she, what, was, this, is, are, color words, etc.

  5. The child understands basic phonological awareness. “Phonological awareness comes before the more complex ability to notice, distinguish, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds in a spoken word, which is called ‘Phonemic awareness.’ Developing these abilities early–using rhymes, clapping syllables, and later manipulating the individual sounds in words–has been shown to be critical for beginning reading success and even predicts success with reading in later years.” Raising Confident Readers by Dr. J. Richard Gentry.

  6. The child has a general idea of the parts of a story: beginning, middle (plot or conflict), and end (resolution).

  7. The child understands that writing and reading go hand-in-hand. He understands that writing communicates important information and that printed words are related to the words he speaks and hears. He recognizes print in everyday life (i.e.. signs, food boxes, menus, etc.).

  8. The child understands, comments, and asks questions about books that have been read to him.

As a parent your child’s literacy journey begins with you! No pressure here, right?

Here are some tips to help you along this amazing journey with your little miracle…

Immerse your child in language from infancy by talking to him, singing to him, reading to him, and taking him out into the world regularly, giving him the opportunity to communicate with a variety of people. Encourage language development and reading readiness skills through informal, everyday experiences. When out with your child, use this opportunity to point out and compare the beginning letters/sounds for things. For example, when in the grocery store you may say, “What kind of snack do you want, goldfish or teddy grahams?” (while pointing to the beginning letters of each word, accentuating the beginning sound). When in a restaurant, include your child in the ordering process by showing him the menu and using it as an informal reading lesson. He will be so proud as he “reads” the menu and orders “all by himself.” At home, teach reading informally through recipes as you bake with your little helper. Again, he will feel an incredible sense of autonomy as he “reads” the recipe and makes the best cookies in the world, with mom’s help of course. Involving your child in these informal everyday activities teaches him that reading is for a purpose: to communicate messages.

In addition, Language Development and

Reading Readiness go hand in hand… Read, read, read to your child often. Reading should be part of your daily routine from the beginning. As a baby he may not completely understand the stories, but he is learning about language as he hears the words. He is internalizing the natural sounds, intonation, and cadence of language as he listens, which is a prerequisite for speech. When reading to your child include a variety of Picture books, Predictable Books, and Wordless Picture Books.

Picture books (books with few words on each page and large, colorful, coordinating pictures), and predictable books and wordless picture books are the best “beginner books.”

Predictable books are wonderful resources to use with pre-readers or early-readers. The stories are short and include few words on each page so that the child can retell the story by looking at the pictures. In addition, these stories are “predictable.” They accomplish this by using various rhyming patterns and/or repetitious phrases. This predictability actually helps the child learn to read by making him feel successful. At first the child may simply memorize the bo

ok but this is okay because he will feel successful, which is the first step. As he repeatedly “recites” the story, he will eventually begin to recognize the sight words as well as some simple words like color and animal names. If he gets stumped he can usually figure out a word by looking at the pictures since they will always coordinate with the print. For example, the page may be talking about a brown horse and there will be an accompanying picture of a brown horse. The child may know the word brown and it’s accompanying sight words and can figure out the word “horse” by looking at the picture and the beginning sound. Eventually he will know the word horse and the sight words automatically. This scenario describes early Reading success.

Wordless picture books are exactly that… Picture books with no words! Stimulate both imagination and language development as you encourage your child to tell the story in his words…

Finally, encouraging early writing and incorporating print into your toddler’s everyday life is one of the best ways to lay the foundation for early literacy. Since all children delight in drawing, what better way to begin your child’s literacy journey?

Writing helps young children learn to read as they sound out words to communicate their messages. Your toddler’s early scribbles will soon become m

ore “recognizable” as he puts his ideas on paper. Next he’ll try to sound out beginning sounds as he labels his drawings. Soon he will start writing the beginning sounds of each word in his “sentence,” and with these clues, along with his Picasso rendition, you may even be able to figure out what he is trying to communicate! Wait until you experience the excitement in his eyes as he shows you his masterpiece and “reads” you his story: it’s absolutely priceless!

So… immerse your child in the wonderful world of words as you talk, sing and read to him daily. See the delight in his eyes as he discovers his world, and above all… enjoy your parenting journey…


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