Developmental Trends: Reading at Different Age Levels
What You Might Observe:
- Physical exploration of simple cloth and cardboard books
- Increasing enjoyment of storybooks; initially, toddlers focus more on pictures than on story lines
- Attention to and enjoyment of rhythm and rhymes in spoken language
- Temperamental differences influence infants’ and toddlers’ ability to sit still and attend to books.
- Provide small, durable picture books of cloth, cardboard, or plastic.
- Read books with catchy rhythms and rhymes to capture and maintain attention.
- During story time, label and talk about the pictures in books. Recognize that toddlers may not be able to sit still for a lengthy story.
Early Childhood (2–6)
What You Might Observe:
- Incorporation of books and familiar story lines into play activities
- Increasing knowledge of letters and letter-sound correspondences
- Identification of a few words in well-known contexts (e.g., words on commercial products)
- Use of a word’s distinctive features (e.g., a single letter or overall shape) to read or misread it
- Children who have had little exposure to books and reading before starting school may have less knowledge about the nature of reading. Some cultures emphasize oral language more than written language.
- When parents speak a language other than English, they may provide early literacy experiences in their native tongue; such experiences provide a good foundation for reading and writing in English.
- Some children begin school knowing the alphabet and may have a small sight vocabulary as well. Others may need to start from scratch in learning letters and letter sounds.
- Read to young children using colorful books with high-interest content.
- Teach letters of the alphabet through engaging, hands-on activities.
- Teach letter-sound relationships through storybooks, games, rhymes, and enjoyable writing activities.
- Encourage children to read words that can easily be identified from their contexts.
- Encourage parents to read regularly to children.
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