What is Reading?

The process of reading is constructing meaning from a written text. The reader is involved in bringing background knowledge and knowledge of print to the author's messages in the text. As a result, reading is considered an active process.


The Progression of Reading Development

Reading development begins in the home. When children are read to, they are actively involved in the process of learning to read. Listening to books, and using their own language to retell the story, lay the foundations for becoming fluent readers. The same reading-like behaviors may continue when the child enters school.

The reproduction of stories changes when children begin to attend to cues in the print along with cues from their language and background information. Here the children begin to be more aware of print in their environment and a child might point to words and ask, "What does this say?"

The children begin to match their oral reproduction with the printed text. First attempts at matching may not be accurate, but as the children gain more knowledge about print, the voice/print match becomes closer. Children also begin developing a sight word vocabulary of words they read over and over again with which they become more familiar.

A variety of reading strategies begin to develop as the children bring meaning to print. The type of strategies being used depends on the child and the type of text being read.


A Variety of Reading Strategies

  • Attempts to read along with reader
  • Uses picture clues
  • Substitutes a word with similar meaning
  • Sounds out a word
  • Thinks about whether attempts at a word sound like language
  • Uses structure of sentence to gain meaning
  • Guesses at a word using overall meaning
  • Skips a word, reads to end of sentence, and goes back to word
  • Recognizes words previously read
  • Refers back to words previously read
  • Notices miscues if they interfere with meaning
  • Talks about his/her reading strategies


Activities to Support Reading Development

  • Build a personal library
  • Set aside a special time to read to your child each day (continue even after your child begins to read on his own)
  • Read environmental print (stop signs, store names, food labels, etc.)
  • Participate in shared reading with your child
  • Help your child get a library card and make it a routine to visit your library regularly
  • Buy books as presents for special occasions
  • Visit local book stores with your child
  • Record stories on cassettes with your child and have your child record stories for you. Book cassette/CD packages are also available at libraries, stores, and from book orders.