Read Aloud

Reading aloud is a powerful tool for promoting early literacy. When infants are read to, their brains begin preparing to learn words. By the time a baby is grabbing for the book, they are able to tell words apart. Toddlers who have been read to regularly can not only demand their favorite books at bedtime, but start matching sounds to letters. With the alphabet and years of stories under their belts, young children have the building blocks to start sounding out words. Reading aloud then becomes a technique young readers use to get better and faster. Fluent readers can complete the circle by reading to newer readers, even as they enhance their own vocabulary and comprehension. Reading aloud supports each of the “5 Pillars of Early Literacy.”

The 5 Pillars of Early Literacy

Effective early literacy strategies are so important to children’s success that Arizona law requires schools to use “an evidence-based reading curriculum that includes the essential components of reading instruction.” The statute further defines “essential components of reading instruction” to mean “explicit and systematic instruction in the following: (a) Phonemic awareness; (b) Phonics; (c) Vocabulary development; (d) Reading fluency; (e) Reading comprehension.” See A.R.S. §15-704

1. Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify the different sounds that make up speech.
Word games, rhymes, and tongue twisters can help children identify the individual sounds in words and begin to match the sounds to letters of the alphabet. So, keep talking!


2. Phonics

Phonics helps kids match sounds to letters or letter groups.
Phonics is the key to decoding new words. Breaking words down into sounds and syllables allows young readers to connect words on paper with the words they hear and speak every day. Remember, Sam-I-Am did not like green eggs and ham!


3. Fluency

Fluency is the ability to read accurately and quickly.
Fluency is achieved when the reader can concentrate on the meaning of the text, not the individual words. Guided practice helps children learn to read fast enough to keep up with their brains!


4. Vocabulary

Vocabulary is the key to knowing more about everything.
Kids absorb language like sponges, learning new words every day. Help expand their vocabulary by talking to them, reading aloud, and even singing with them. Use all the words!


5. Comprehension

Comprehension happens when the words become ideas.
Once a child is reading fluently with a strong vocabulary, they can read for understanding. Comprehension is that “Oh! I get it now!” moment, repeated. Help with comprehension by asking questions about what they are reading.

5 pillars of early literacyThe National Reading Panel identified five key concepts at the core of every effective reading instruction program:
  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Fluency
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Comprehension

Since the panel’s report was released in 2000, these concepts have become known as the “five pillars” of early literacy and reading instruction.

Download the 5 Pillars poster!

5 Pillars of Early Literacy Poster

Click the image to view and save a PDF version of the 5 Pillars of Early Literacy poster.