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Why is Reading Important?

Why is Reading Important?


Beginning or during kindergarten, most children have naturally developed language skills and knowledge. They…

Know print carries meaning by:

  • Turning pages in a storybook to find out what happens next
  • "writing" (scribbling or using invented spelling) to communicate a message
  • Using the language and voice of stories when narrating their stories
  • Dictating stories

Know what written language looks like by:

  • Recognizing that words are combinations of letters
  • Identifying specific letters in unfamiliar words
  • Writing with "mock" letters or writing that includes features of real letters

Can identify and name letters of the alphabet by:

  • Saying the alphabet
  • Pointing out letters of the alphabet in their own names and in written texts

Know that letters are associated with sounds by:

  • Finger pointing while reading or being read to
  • Spelling words phonetically, relating letters to the sounds they hear in the word

Know the sounds that letters make by:

  • Naming all the objects in a room that begin with the same letter
  • Pointing to words in a text that begin with the same letter
  • Picking out words that rhyme
  • Trying to sound out new or unfamiliar words while reading out loud
  • Representing words in writing by their first sound (e.g., writing d to represent the word dog)

Know using words can serve various purposes by:

  • Pointing to signs for specific places, such as a play area, a restaurant, or a store
  • Writing for different purposes, such as writing a (pretend) grocery list, writing a thank-you letter, or writing a menu for play

Know how books work by:

  • Holding the book right side up
  • Turning pages one at a time
  • Reading from left to right and top to bottom
  • Beginning reading at the front and moving sequentially to the back

Because children have been learning language since birth, most are ready to move to the next step – mastering conventional reading and writing. To become effective readers and writers children need to:

  • Recognize the written symbols letters and words used in reading and writing
  • Write letters and form words by following conventional rules
  • Use routine skills and thinking and reasoning abilities to create meaning while reading and writing

The written symbols we use to read and write are the 26 upper and lower case letters of the alphabet. The conventional rules governing how to write letters and form words include writing letters so they face in the correct direction, using upper and lower case versions, spelling words correctly, and putting spaces between words.

Routine skills refer to the things readers do automatically, without stopping to think about what to do. We pause when we see a comma or period, recognize high-frequency sight words, and use what we already know to understand what we read. One of the critical routine skills is phonemic awareness – the ability to associate specific sounds with specific letters and letter combinations.

Research has shown that phonemic awareness is the best predictor of early reading skills. Phonemes, the smallest units of sounds, form syllables, and words are made up of syllables. Children who understand that spoken language is made up of discrete sounds – phonemes and syllables – find it easier to learn to read.

Many children develop phonemic awareness naturally, over time. Simple activities such as frequent readings of familiar and favorite stories, poems, and rhymes can help children develop phonemic awareness. Other children may need to take part in activities designed to build this basic skill.

Thinking and reasoning abilities help children figure out how to read and write unfamiliar words. A child might use the meaning of a previous word or phrase, look at a familiar prefix or suffix, or recall how to pronounce a letter combination that appeared in another word.

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