understand stories and explanations and their understanding of how things work—all skills that will be important in early reading.

Knowledge about and love for literacy can develop only through experience. Children should own books, should have access to books in their preschool and primary classrooms, should be read to often, and should see others reading and writing. Understanding the value of literacy as a means of communication, as well as coming to love book-reading as a time for emotional closeness, are accomplishments typical of the future good reader.

The committee’s larger report emphasized the importance of phonological awareness—not to be confused with phonics. When children achieve phonological awareness, they are able to think about how words sound, apart from what words mean. For example, they appreciate that the word “kitchen” has two spoken parts (syllables), that the word “bed” rhymes with “bread,” and that the words “cat” and “king” begin with the same sound. Children can and should develop some degree of phonological awareness in the preschool years, because it is a crucial early step toward understanding the alphabetic principle and, ultimately, toward learning to read.

Another necessary circumstance for reading success is, of course, excellent reading instruction once children begin school. Although there is no single reading program out there to solve all problems, we do know that the most



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement