Reading is a complex, multifaceted skill that unfolds over time. It is an advanced thinking process that requires the integration of many skills, such as phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
Reading development is composed of several stages . Each stage builds upon the previous one and leads to the next level of reading ability. Understanding the stages of reading development is crucial for fostering a love of reading and ensuring academic success.
In this blog post, I will discuss the various stages of reading development, highlighting key milestones and offering insights to guide you in nurturing and celebrating your child’s or students’ progress. From emergent pre-reading to advanced reading, let’s delve into the fascinating world of literacy and discover how to cultivate confident, skilled readers.
What are the stages of reading development
The stages of reading development are a framework that describes the process of learning to read. This process begins at birth and continues through adulthood. It is divided into five distinct stages: emergent pre-reading, early reading, transitional reading, fluent reading and advanced reading.
1. Emergent Pre-reading (ages 0-5)
Emergent Pre-reading (ages 0-5) is the first stage of reading development, focusing on the foundational skills that pave the way for a child’s future reading success. At this stage, children are exposed to books, print, and spoken language, laying the groundwork for their literacy journey.
Key aspects of Emergent Pre-reading include:
Parents and caregivers can support Emergent Pre-reading by engaging in activities such as reading aloud, singing nursery rhymes, playing word games, and providing ample opportunities for exposure to print materials.
2. Early Reading (ages 5-7)
Early Reading (ages 5-7) is the second stage of reading development, during which children begin to actively engage with the process of reading. They start decoding words using their knowledge of letter-sound relationships (phonics) and develop the skills needed to comprehend simple texts.
Key aspects of the Early Reading stage include:
To support children during the Early Reading stage, parents and educators can provide them with age-appropriate reading materials, practice phonics and sight words, ask questions to check comprehension, and encourage reading aloud to improve fluency.
3. Transitional Reading (ages 7-9)
Transitional Reading (ages 7-9) is the third stage of reading development, characterized by the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. At this stage, children become more independent readers as they improve their fluency, expand their vocabulary, and enhance their comprehension skills.
Key aspects of the Transitional Reading stage include:
Parents and educators can support children during the Transitional Reading stage by providing them with diverse, age-appropriate reading materials, engaging in discussions about the texts they read, and teaching them strategies to improve their comprehension.
4. Intermediate Reading (ages 9-12)
Intermediate Reading (ages 9-12) is the fourth stage of reading development, where children further refine their reading skills and engage with a wide range of texts independently. They read for various purposes, including learning, entertainment, and personal growth. At this stage, children develop the ability to think critically about what they read and comprehend more complex texts.
Key aspects of the Intermediate Reading stage include:
To support children during the Intermediate Reading stage, parents and educators can encourage them to read diverse materials, discuss their thoughts and opinions about the texts, and guide them in developing critical thinking and text analysis skills.
5. Advanced Reading (ages 12+)
Advanced Reading (ages 12+) is the fifth stage of reading development, where adolescents and adults demonstrate the ability to read and understand a wide range of texts, including complex literature, nonfiction, and technical materials. At this stage, readers are capable of critical analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of the information they encounter.
Key aspects of the Advanced Reading stage include:
Deep comprehension: Advanced readers have the ability to comprehend and interpret complex texts, connecting ideas within and across texts, and understanding nuances and subtleties.Critical analysis: Readers at this stage can critically analyze texts, evaluating the author’s arguments, credibility, and purpose, as well as recognizing any biases or assumptions.Synthesis and evaluation: Advanced readers can synthesize information from multiple sources, identify patterns and relationships, and evaluate the quality and relevance of the information.Advanced vocabulary: Readers at this stage have a broad and sophisticated vocabulary, enabling them to understand and use complex language effectively.Reading for various purposes: Advanced readers can effectively read for different purposes, such as research, problem-solving, or deepening their understanding of a specific topic.Advanced writing skills: As their reading skills advance, so do their writing abilities. They can effectively communicate complex ideas, construct well-organized arguments, and express their own opinions and insights.
To support readers during the Advanced Reading stage, parents and educators can provide access to diverse and challenging reading materials, engage in thoughtful discussions about the texts, and encourage the development of critical thinking and analytical skills.
In conclusion, the stages of reading development offer a valuable framework for understanding the complex journey of learning to read. From Emergent Pre-reading to Advanced Reading, each stage plays a crucial role in building a strong foundation in literacy, empowering individuals to engage with, analyze, and learn from a diverse range of texts throughout their lives.
Here some good references that discuss the stages of reading development and related topics. These references should provide a solid foundation for understanding the stages of reading development and evidence-based practices for supporting readers at each stage.
1. Chall, J.S. (1983). Stages of Reading Development. New York: McGraw-Hill.
This seminal work by Jeanne Chall presents a detailed description of the stages of reading development, providing a foundation for much of the understanding in this field.
2. National Institute for Literacy. (2008). Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Washington, D.C.: National Institute for Literacy.
This report summarizes scientific research on early literacy development, including key skills and strategies for supporting emergent readers.
3. Fountas, I.C., & Pinnell, G.S. (2016). Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
This book provides insights into the process of teaching reading across different grade levels, with a focus on guided reading instruction and targeted support for readers at various stages of development.
4. Allington, R.L., & Cunningham, P.M. (2007). Schools That Work: Where All Children Read and Write. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
This book offers research-based strategies for supporting reading and writing development in schools, with attention to the needs of diverse learners and varying stages of literacy development.
5. Duke, N.K., & Pearson, P.D. (2002). Effective Practices for Developing Reading Comprehension. In A.E. Farstrup & S.J. Samuels (Eds.), What Research Has to Say About Reading Instruction (pp. 205-242). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
This chapter reviews research on reading comprehension, including instructional strategies for supporting readers at different stages of development.