Reading Stages and What Parents Can do to Encourage Interest

Reading Stages and What Parents Can do to Encourage Interest
Excerpted from Reading is Cool! – by Schools’ Out Washington; adapted by Glen W. Osborn, 2016
Emergent Stage
Learning to read is a step by step, years- long process that includes speaking,
listening, reading and writing. The first step usually happens during ages 2- 5. Infants’ and toddlers’
imitation and mimicking adult speech and facial expressions is thought by researchers to be
foundational to literacy development. This happens as children draw meaning from symbolic
information. During emergent stage years, children begin to understand that printed language has a
purpose, how it relates to speech, and how it’s used to convey ideas.
Parents can encourage learning by offering many chances for children to hear words read aloud and see
them written for everyday purposes such as lists, notes, texts, and email. Storytelling, being listened
carefully to, and interacting with letters and words are also important activities.
Initial Stage
This typically occurs during ages 5 - 7 as children begin recognizing letters and words in
print. First words that tend to have significance to children are names, labels, and food. During this
stage children should gain the understanding that print is meaningful. Experiences that confirm that
print conveys information will build interest and vocabulary. Reading labels together, and daily printed
messages such as notes in their lunch bag are examples for parents to try out and have fun with.
Transitional Stage
Typical for ages 7, 8 and 9, children may read aloud slowly and with lots of
mistakes. They will frequently sound out each letter before recognizing the printed word. They may also
need to follow their fingers on words to help keep their place in the sentence. Readers in this stage must
pay attention to each word and need to re-read each sentence once they’ve read the individual words.
It’s important to encourage efforts and support their struggles. Children may feel self-conscious and
prefer to read simpler books repeatedly in order to feel successful. That’s fine.
Parents do well to remember their own challenges at this stage and look for opportunities to support
efforts not mastery. It is important that children follow their interests in choosing what to read
sometimes. This helps them understand that printed words help them satisfy their curiosity.
Basic Fluency Stage
These readers are typically ages 9, 10 and 11. Focus on this stage is on deeper
understanding or comprehension. This can be enhanced when they read material of high interest to
them. During this stage children begin to learn strategies for self-correcting mistakes of comprehension,
such as re-reading a passage or looking up unknown words. Electronic readers with built in dictionaries
are especially useful at this stage.
Provide time and space for independent reading, offer activities and experiences related to reading
topics, and introducing new words. Visit libraries and have your child get checkout privileges.
Refinement Stage
Children usually reach this stage at age 11 – 13. They self-select what they read
based on interests that may change week to week. Support this stage by giving opportunities to browse
and explore topics. Parent can also model reading for pleasure. Continue to have family reading time
followed by comparing what family members have read.