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Stage 1 — Visual Cue Word Recognition

This critical stage is the prereading stage, where children play with oral language, learn about the world around them and develop skills that they will later apply to learning to read. Children begin to recognize rhyming words and alliteration, the repetition of the initial sound of each word in a string of text (e.g., Most monsters don’t mind making messes). Children begin to recognize that symbols have meaning, and usually rely on word shape, color or distinctive logos to "read" words.

Decoding: The act of deciphering a new word by sounding it out.

For example, think of very young children who recognize McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. They are not truly reading these words, but they are exhibiting the emergent literacy skills that they will one day use to read. During this emergent stage, the child relies heavily on the information provided by the pictures accompanying text, by the way the story mimics spoken language and by the highly predictable language common in stories for young children.

At this stage, children pretend to read favorite stories and books by retelling. They are not actually “reading” the words, having not yet developed the understanding that letters within words convey important information for reading. They may recognize some letters or know some letter names, but still do not apply this knowledge to decoding words.

Watch young students practice their visual cue word recognition skills in Interactive Read Aloud.

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