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Reading & Language

Reading Development

Many parents are amazed at how much their children’s reading develops in only a few short years. From kindergarten through third grade, children progress from reading simple picture books containing only a few words per page to reading chapter books that contain only a few pictures. Children learn new reading skills each year. Most children in kindergarten through grade three go through these stages of reading development:

Kindergarteners read simple, predictable books by drawing on their memory of a book that has been read aloud to them and referring to the pictures. They may also begin to recognize short, commonly used words that are repeated in the text.

First graders begin to “crack the code” of written language by using their knowledge of simple words and the relationships between sounds and letters to “decode” words.

Second- and third-graders are able to read increasingly difficult words. They also begin to read with greater speed, fluency, and expression.

Below you can listen as a typical child from each grade reads a book aloud.

Kindergartner Reading

When Ella reads she adds and substitutes many words such as “like to eat” and “like to gobble” for “gobble.” She does not change the meaning of the story, showing that she relies on her memory of the story, which has first been read to her. Her substitution for “worms” for “words” shows that she also uses pictures to help her. Ella makes this story come alive with her lively expression.

First Grade
First Grader Reading

Justin reads this simple book quite accurately. He sometimes confuses commonly used words, substituting “I” for “it” and “is” for “sees” and omits word endings (“see” for “sees”). He he self-corrects one minor error (“birdie” for “bird”), showing that he is cross checking meaning with the text. Typical of beginning first-graders, Justin sometimes repeats words or whole sentences and primarily reads in a word-by-word manner.

Second Grade
Second grader reading

Andre reads accurately and tackles difficult words such as “museums.” He uses his knowledge of sounds and word parts to decode unknown words, saying “closure” for “culture” on the last page. Like most beginning second-graders, he is still developing reading fluency. He does not consistently pause for punctuation and pauses in the middle of phrases.

Third Grade

Hannah reads accurately, struggling over only the most difficult words in the text. When she decodes long words such “electricity” and “communicate” she demonstrates strong knowledge of strategies for segmenting and reading multisyllabic words. She reads with fluency and expression, only occasionally repeating words or hesitating. Her expression helps the listener understand the meaning as she reads.

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