Children's Reading Development and Instruction

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    Reading is a complex cognitive skill that involves the extraction of meaning from printed or written text. “Barking at print” without understanding is not reading. Developmentally, the typical pattern is that in the early years children learn receptive and expressive language skills, which are key for reading development. Then they learn letter sounds (and sometimes letter names also) and develop the auditory skills necessary for this. Then by putting sounds together they are able to decode words – in principle the 50% of English words which are regular. As they encounter and remember more words, they develop a “sight vocabulary” of words which are recognized at a glance, without any need for decoding. Then they develop even more visual skills and learn whole words (especially irregular ones) as an entity. As they progress there is increasing emphasis on comprehension. Eventually they get to the stage of not “learning to read” but “reading to learn”, where the focus is on completely on the meaning extracted, rather than the process of extracting it. Practice with reading is essential to develop fluency. Good readers read many times the amount of poor readers. As children fail in reading their motivation and confidence becomes damaged and they tend to try even less. Better readers will get to the stage of being aware of how they read and be able to control how they read for different purposes. Eventually there is less emphasis on the process of reading and more on the value of what is being read. Parents have a major role in helping their children develop, not only pre-school but also during the school years. Peer learning may be added to the school curriculum to individualize and differentiate reading. Generally, girls do better than boys at both language and reading, and this is true in many countries. Socio-economic status is strongly associated with reading. Different countries have different languages with different characteristics which may affect reading development. Increasingly, children read books and other materials electronically, on computers, tablets and phones. Research has investigated whether they actually prefer this. A range of interventions for weaker readers are reviewed. Most have good short-term effects, but few show continued effects in the long term, whether the intervention is continued or not. Traditional ways of assessing reading development are described, then computer based methods which show promise are show-cased. Generally, only studies from 2010 onwards have been included.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationChildhood Studies - Oxford Bibliographies
    Place of PublicationNew York
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2019


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