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Reading and Language

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About this Site

"It's amazing that those twenty-six little marks of the alphabet can arrange themselves on the pages of a book and accomplish all of that..." - Natalie Babbitt, noted children's author

Inspiration for Reading and Language comes from our belief that learning to read is one of the most meaningful and powerful experiences that a parent and child can share. Designed for parents of children from birth through 8 years of age, this site informs parents about how literacy development occurs at various ages, provides parents with some guidelines for how they can support children's literacy development at each stage, and offers some carefully-reviewed resources parents may find helpful as they raise eager readers and writers.

The information contained in Reading and Language is based on research and scholarship in language and literacy development. The following ideas that emerge from decades of research form the core philosophy of the site's content:

  • Language paves the way for literacy. Oral language (talking and listening) develops before written language (reading and writing) in typical children. Learning to read is the process of mapping written language onto oral language. Children who both understand and use language well tend to become better readers and writers. By contrast, children who do not develop a strong language base tend to become less skilled readers and writers. To reflect the connection between language and literacy, each age grouping in this site contains a section about developmental milestones in four areas: Listening, Talking, Reading, and Writing.
  • Literacy is a developmental process that begins at birth. Learning to read and write occurs in a predictable set of stages--from learning about what letters are and being able to rhyme as a young child, to using reading and writing as a means of deepening one's understanding of the world as an older child. Incredible as it may seem, this process begins in infancy. When babies hear nursery rhymes recited to them by their parents, they learn the rhythms of language. They learn about books by chewing on them and trying to turn the pages.
  • Not all children learn to read and write at the same time. While some children read just at grade level, others may be reading several grade levels above and others slightly below. The language and literacy milestones presented in this site describe "average" development. If an individual child has not yet met all of the milestones for a given age, there may not necessarily be a problem. As noted frequently throughout the site, parents are encouraged to consult with pediatricians or teachers if they have concerns about their child's development.
  • Parents play a significant role in helping children become readers and writers. More importantly, helping children to develop strong language and literacy skills can be a natural and enjoyable part of every day. Simply talking and playing with babies, writing letters on the sidewalk with toddlers, and making sure third-graders have a quiet space for homework are all simple ways of fostering literacy development. This site presents age-by-age guidelines for easy, enjoyable, and inexpensive ways that parents can foster their children's literacy development through everyday experiences.

When you visit Reading and Language, you can select an age to find information specifically relevant to your child's developmental stage. Each age-customized section contains the following:

  • Quick Preview - a clickable slide show summarizing how parents can support a child of this age in his learning process.
  • Milestones - language and literacy milestones for this age group, plus quick pointers and everyday activities that you can do designed to help your child learn language and literacy.
  • Activities - an age-customized list of online and printable activities from PBS Kids.

In addition, the site features Articles presenting practical information and new research findings.

Educational Development Corporation

Reading and Language was created by the Center for Children & Families at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, MA, an international research and development organization. For more than 20 years, the Center for Children & Families has worked to strengthen programs that serve young children and their families. Our expertise in language and literacy development, numerous consultations with parents and advice from a panel of outside experts guided all content development.

Our Board of Experts

Grant Cioffi, Ph.D.
Bridget Dalton, Ed.D.
Theresa Deeney, Ed.D.
Catherine Finn, Ph.D.
Sandra N. Kleinman, Ed.D.
Allyssa McCabe, Ph.D.
Pamela R. Rollins, Ed.D.
Miriam Smith, Ph.D.


The site was designed by Fablevision Studios, a unique design studio specializing in animation, character design, and Web design for both educational and corporate clients.

Spanish Translation: Antonieta Romero-Follette.

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