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Developmental Stages of Reading

English Language Learners: Children acquiring English as a second language and learning to read will progress through these stages, though they may progress through them more slowly than other students. However, if they can read in their native language, they can transfer the underlying ideas of reading from one language to the other (i.e., there are symbols that stand for spoken words), and focus their energy on learning the sound system and vocabulary of English in order to become proficient English readers.

It can be helpful in working with students at various grade levels to understand the stages of reading development that typically developing children move through as they become proficient readers. The stages are helpful for thinking about where students are, what skills they presently possess and what they should be able to do in the next stage. Remember, however, that the lines between the stages are not static and fixed, but simply serve as guideposts. Like any developmental progression, growth is often uneven, happens at different rates for different children and is greatly influenced by environment and experience.

You can use the Developmental Stages of Reading Quick Check to conduct a simple inventory and determine what skills children might need to improve their reading. 

Continue reading on to learn more about the stages of reading development and the typical reading behaviors exhibited at each stage.

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