Reading Success Lab
Phone 877-286-2801

  Reading Development Checklist

(Source: National Research Council Report on Preventing Reading Difficulties)

Birth to 3 years

  • Recognizes specific books by cover

  • Pretends to read books

  • Understands that books are handled in particular ways

  • Enters into a book sharing routine with primary care givers

  • Vocalization play in crib gives way to enjoyment of rhyming language

  • Labels objects in books

  • Comments on characters in books

  • Looks at picture in book and realizes it is a symbol for a real object

  • Listens to stories

  • Requests/commands adult to read or write

  • May begin attending to specific print such as letters in names

  • Uses increasingly purposive scribbling

  • Occasionally seems to distinguish between drawing and writing

  • Produces some letter-like forms and scribbles with some features of English writing
Reading Development Checklist

Three to 4 year-old Accomplishments

  • Knows that alphabet letters are a special category of visual graphics that can be individually named
  • Recognizes local environmental print
  • Knows that it is the print that is read in stories
  • Pays attention to separable and repeating sounds in language (e.g., Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater , Peter Eater)
  • Uses new vocabulary and grammatical constructions in own speech
  • Understands and follows oral directions
  • Is sensitive to some sequences of events in stories
  • Shows an interest in books and reading
  • When being read a story, connects information and events to life experiences
  • Questions and comments demonstrating understanding of literal meaning of story being told.
  • Displays reading and writing attempts, call attention to self: “Look at my story”
  • Can identify 10 alphabet letters, especially those from own name
  • “Writes (scribbles) message as part of playful activity
  • May begin to attend to beginning or rhyming sound in salient words

Kindergarten Accomplishments

  • Knows the parts of a book and their functions
  • Begins to track print when listening to a familiar text being read or when reading own writing
  • “Reads” familiar texts but does not necessarily use the verbatim print
  • Recognizes and can name all uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Understands that the sequence of letters in a written word represents the sequence of sounds in a spoken word (this is called the alphabetic principle)
  • Learns many, though not all, one-to-one letter sound correspondences
  • Recognizes some words by sight, including a few very common ones (a, the, I, you, is, are).
  • Uses new vocabulary and grammatical constructions in own speech
  • Makes appropriate switches from oral to written language situations
  • Notices when simple sentences fail to make sense
  • Connects information and events in texts to life and life to text experiences
  • Retells, reenacts or dramatizes stories or parts of stories
  • Listens attentively to books teacher reads to class
  • Can name some book titles and authors
  • Demonstrates familiarity with a number of types or genres of text (e.g., storybooks, poems, newspapers, everyday print such as signs , notices, labels)
  • Can answer questions about stories read aloud
  • Makes predications based on illustrations or portions of stories
  • Demonstrates understanding that spoken words consist of sequences of phonemes
  • Given spoken sets like “dan, dan, den” can identify the first two as sharing a same sound
  • Given a spoken set like “dak, pat, zen” can identify the first two as sharing a same sound
  • Given a spoken segment can merge them into a meaningful target word: e.g., “c” “a” “t” can be recognized as “cat”
  • Given a spoken work can produce another word that rhymes with it
  • Independently writes many uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Uses phonemic awareness and letter knowledge to spell independently (may use invented spellings)
  • Writes (unconventionally) to express own meaning
  • Builds a repertoire of some conventionally spelled words
  • Shows awareness of distinction between “kid writing” and conventional orthography
  • Writes own name (first and last) and the first names of some friends or classmates
  • Can write most letters and some words when they are dictated

First Grade Accomplishments

  • Makes a transition from emergent to “real” reading
  • Reads aloud with accuracy and comprehension any text that is appropriately designed for the first half of grade 1
  • Accurately decodes orthographically regular, one-syllable words and nonsense words (e.g., sit, zot) using print-sound mapping to sound out unknown words
  • Uses letter-sound correspondence knowledge to sound out unknown words when reading text
  • Recognizes common irregularly spelled words by sight (have, said, where, two)
  • Has a reading vocabulary of 300-500 words, sight words, and easily sounded out words
  • Monitors own reading and self-corrects when an incorrectly identified word does not fit with cues provided by the letters in the word or the context surrounding the word
  • Reads and comprehends both fiction and nonfiction that is appropriately designed for grade level
  • Creates own written text for others to read
  • Notices when difficulties are encountered in understanding text
  • Reads and understands simple written directions
  • Predicts and justifies what will happen next in stories
  • Discusses prior knowledge of topics in expository test
  • Discusses how, why and what-if questions in sharing nonfiction texts
  • Describes new information gained from tests in own words
  • Distinguishes whether simple sentences are incomplete or fail to make sense; notices when simple texts fail to make sense
  • Can answer simple written comprehension questions based on material read
  • Can count the number of syllables in a word
  • Can blend or segment the phonemes or most one-syllable words
  • Spells correctly three-and four-letter short vowel words
  • Composes fairly readable first drafts using appropriate parts of the writing process
  • Uses invented spelling/phonics-based knowledge to spell independently when necessary
  • Shows spelling consciousness or sensitivity to conventional spelling
  • Uses basic punctuation and capitalization
  • Produces a variety of types of compositions (e.g., stories, descriptions, etc)
  • Engages in a variety of literacy activities voluntarily (e.g., choosing books and storied to read, writing a note to a friend)

Second-Grade Accomplishments

  • Reads and comprehends both fiction and nonfiction that is appropriate for grade level
  • Accurately decodes orthographically regular multi-syllable words and nonsense words
  • Uses knowledge of print-sound mapping to sound out unknown words
  • Accurately reads many irregularly spelled words
  • Reads and comprehends both fiction and nonfiction that is appropriate for grade level
  • Reads voluntarily for interest and own purposes
  • Rereads sentence when meaning is not clear
  • Interprets information from diagrams, charts, and graphs
  • Recalls facts and details of texts
  • Reads nonfiction materials for answers to specific question or for specific purposes
  • Takes part in creative responses to tests such as dramatizations, oral presentations, fantasy play, etc
  • Discusses similarities in characters and events across stories
  • Connects and compares information across nonfiction selections
  • Poses possible answers to how, why, and what-if questions
  • Correctly spells previously studied words and spelling patterns in own writing
  • Represents the complete sound of a word when spelling independently
  • Produces a variety of types of compositions (e.g., stories, reports,. correspondence)

Third-Grade Accomplishments

  • Reads aloud with fluency and comprehension any text that is appropriate for grade level
  • Uses letter-sound correspondence knowledge and structural analysis to decode words
  • Reads longer fictional selections and chapter books independently
  • Can point to or clearly identify specific words or wording that a causing comprehension difficulties
  • Summarizes major points from fiction and nonfiction text
  • In interpreting fiction, discusses underlying theme or message
  • Asks how, why, and what-if question in interpreting nonfiction texts
  • In interpreting nonfiction, distinguishes cause and effect, fact and opinion, main idea and supporting detail
  • Uses information and reasoning to examine bases of hypotheses and opinions
  • Infers word meanings from taught roots, prefixes, and suffixes
  • Combines information from multiple sources in writing reports
  • Independently reviews work for spelling, mechanics and presentation
  • Produces a variety of written works in a variety of formats, including multimedia formats


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