Six foundational skills to prepare good readers

A great resource guide* produced at the Carmel Clay Public Library defines early literacy as “what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.”  The guide describes six foundational skills children have to become good at to become good readers.  For children that don’t master these skills, the stakes are high: “Children who lack these critical skills often struggle in school and have difficulty becoming good readers.”

Here are the six:

  1. PRINT MOTIVATION:  The amount of interest a child has in reading and books.
  2. VOCABULARY:  Knowing the names of things.
  3. PRINT AWARENESS:  Understanding how books work (in English, books are read from top to bottom, left to right, and they have a beginning and an end).
  4. NARRATIVE SKILLS: A child’s ability to retell stories, understand the meaning of what’s being read, and put in order the events that happen in a story.
  5. PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS: A child’s ability to hear the sounds in words, identify rhyming sounds, and recognize that words are made up of many individual sounds.  
  6. LETTTER KNOWLEDGE:  A child’s ability to identify the letters in the alphabet and recognize that they each have a different sound and name.

Think about these fundamentals.  And start reading to children when they’re infants, to help them develop these six skills. You’ll be laying the groundwork for future good readers!


* “Born to Read: Resource Guide for Parents of Infants and Toddlers,” Carmel Clay Public Library, Carmel, Indiana.

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