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Online Professional Learning and
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21st Century Community Learning Centers

How Do Reading Skills Develop?

Reading Is Not a Natural Process

We’ve learned that children acquire language naturally through exposure; as humans we are hard-wired to learn to communicate through language. However, it’s important to understand that the ability to read is not acquired naturally. For children to learn to read, they need to be taught certain fundamentals of the language system.

Ultimately, when we talk about reading, we mean understanding the message conveyed through the printed word. But in order to understand, students must first understand spoken language. Then they have to understand the print system and build their vocabularies.

According to Heller (2014), college-bound students should have 75,000 to 120,000 words in their vocabularies. While much of this work is done in school, there is a lot that can be done to support the continued acquisition of reading skills in 21st CCLC programs. See the infographic below to explore just how complicated a feat this is.  


reading is not natural

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