Early Literacy

Today more than ever, it's so important for our young children to learn how to read well. Parents and teachers alike are committed to making that happen, but commitment alone is not enough. We need a plan of action to make early literacy happen.

There are many factors to consider in developing a plan:

  • Concepts of Print
  • Noticing environmental print
  • Parental modeling
  • Phonological and phonemic awareness

  • Phonological and phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Decoding strategies
  • Word recognition skills and a short group of sight words
  • Decodable text that allows for students to progress while reading at their instructional level.
  • Introduction to conventions and mechanics (parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization, etc...).

  • Engaging children in fun, interactive games that allow them to explore and experiment with letters and sounds.
  • Explicit connections to text. During read alouds, ask students to point out the first or last word in a sentence or to find a specific word like the so that they begin to focus on print as well as illustrations.
  • Access to decodable and connected text so that each skill is reinforced and students can begin to read independently.
  • Assisting young readers in developing fluency by encouraging re-reading.
  • Focusing on vocabulary by pointing out new words and using them in context.
  • Encouraging comprehension by asking preview and prediction questions, making connections to personal experience, and identifying setting, characters, and plot.

Emergent Readers

E mergent literacy encompasses the exciting path that children take from first becoming aware of written language and print as emergent readers through the stages of reading development. The goal of early reading instruction and activities is to ensure that all children enter kindergarten with the necessary language and skills for continued reading success in school.

Early Reading Skills

L anguage in almost every society includes both a verbal language and written expression of that spoken communication. Spoken language is a naturally occurring phenomenon that is acquired through hearing and rehearsal, but reading requires an entirely different set of specific skills.

Although babies don’t become readers for several years, they begin to develop the necessary skills for reading and writing at birth. The first three years of life are important ones in developing the language foundations that will lead to reading. Early reading skills are the basis for helping children to become strong readers.

Early Reading Intervention

Children develop a variety of skills and abilities throughout their formative years and reach physical and cognitive benchmarks based on a range of factors including heredity, modeling and support from adults and other children, and motivation.

Early literacy development is a key skill because it is the foundation for reading and writing acquisition and necessary for future academic success.

Although there is no established "right time" for a student to display a specific skill, it is important that young learners have access to instruction and support that will take advantage of the "critical windows" that occur in brain development. Children who struggle to develop emergent reading and writing skills may need early reading intervention in order to prevent reading failure.

Transitional Readers

As students gain reading skills they move along the continuum from beginning reading to advanced reading. The gradual addition of more complex skills is called transitional reading and is an important phase in early literacy development.

This stage of reading occurs most frequently during second and third grades as students are able to decode larger words, know more sight words, and have greater fluency than beginning readers. Transitional readers are also able to apply more strategies to determine unfamiliar words and to gain meaning from text rather than pictures as they move toward independent reading. Mastery of skills at this stage is necessary to eventually become a fluent reader.

Early Reading Books

The more experience children have with print, the better! Early reading books provide an important component of the foundation that young children need to become good readers. Before children enter school, early reading books allow children to begin making connections between speech and text and to develop an understanding of concepts of print.

Lexile Levels


Lexile is a measure of text complexity and reader ability from The Lexile® Framework for Reading, an educational tool developed by MetaMetrics®. Lexile measures are used by schools, libraries, and other education programs in all 50 states to provide a consistent scale to assist in selecting text with an appropriate level of challenge for readers.

Leveled Readers

Reading is a complex set of skills that develop over time based on the readiness of the child. In order to develop these skills, children require text that matches their current stage of reading development. Books that reinforce the skills that the student is learning and provides practice of those skills are called leveled readers.