Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers

Louisa Moats

Dr. Louisa Moats is the author of numerous books, including Straight Talk About Reading. She is the former director of the Early Interventions Project at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
Writing and Spelling
Meet the Experts
Roots of Reading Roots of Reading
Sounds and Symbols Sounds and Symbols
Fluent Reading Fluent Reading
Writing and Spelling Writing and Spelling
  Full Overview
Read Together
Literacy Launchers
Helpful Articles
Meet the Experts
Reading for Meaning Reading for Meaning
Reading Rocks!
Empowering Parents
Becoming Bilingual
Reading and the Brain
A Chance to Read
Toddling Toward Reading Toddling Toward Reading

An Interview With Louisa Moats

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Spelling tells us what a child knows...
Spelling is a visible record of language processing. It is language written down. If we know how to look at a child's spelling we can tell what that child understands about word structure, about speech sounds, about how we use letters to represent those. And as it turns out, anything that is going to cause trouble with a child's reading will show up even more dramatically in the child's spelling and writing. So, it's a wonderful diagnostic tool, provides very detailed insight into what children need to know. And it can also tell us when children are gaining insight and what improvements they are making in their understanding of language.
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Vocabulary and spelling are linked...
Vocabulary and spelling and reading actually are all connected topics to me. They all involve understanding words. And we know now much better than we knew before how tied-in the understanding of word form is with word meaning. So, someone who can spell a word and understands the parts of a word and understands how that word is connected to other words is much more likely to have the deep knowledge of a word's meaning that will let them use that word well and understand the word in a deeper sense as a reader.
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Inventive spelling...
Inventive spelling means spelling a word by its sound, spelling phonically and typically using one letter for each sound. So if a child spells the word dress "j-r-s," the sounds are represented. That's an important step in learning to spell. Children who can do that are showing us that they have phonemic awareness. If children cannot do that, if they spell the word with one letter or they make up letters to show the word, then we should be concerned. They need to get to the point of inventive spelling in order to then benefit from formal spelling instruction.
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