I would like to share information from a book called Growing a Reader from Birth, Your Child’s Path from Language to Literacy by Diane McGuinness. This wonderful book helps us understand how children learn to read and what is most critical in development.
The author tells us that becoming a good reading involves the same skills as becoming a good listener. The ability to decode the written word is a very small part of learning to read. However, with all the difficulties children of English-speaking countries have with learning to read, we have become diverted from what is really important.
In many countries, the alphabet writing system is straightforward. Each sound is represented by only one symbol. In these countries, beginning readers ‘crack the code’ of the system in a short period of time whereas in our English speaking countries, ‘cracking the code’ is much more difficult. Why is this? The English language has multiple spellings for the same sound and multiple ways to decode the same letter. Thus in English, we have many exceptions to the rules for decoding words.
Because of this, we have focused on decoding as the problem in learning to read, however there are poor readers in countries where the writing system is straightforward. Poor readers in these countries have no trouble decoding the written word.
In the next few weeks, I will focus on what is most critical in development in learning to read. It is not decoding. The major predictor of becoming a good reader is the development of good language skills during the early childhood years. We can learn to decode at any age, but we cannot learn language skills at any age. We learn language skills in the arms of our parents only at the very beginning of our lives through interactions with our parents. Those interactions, the quality and the quantity, will determine our future ability to learn to read.
Twinkletime Rhymes to Print