Literacy Development
0-2 y
  • Enjoys reading with caregiver
  • Learns to hold books right-side up and turn pages in the correct direction
  • Points to pictures in response to questions about them
  • Can tell the difference between print and pictures
  • Learns to hold a large crayon, marker, or chalk and scribble
2-5 y
  • Understands that a story continues on the next page
  • Learns the direction that print moves in (appropriate for the language)
  • Can isolate sentences into words, words into syllables
  • Can take apart words and syllables into separate sounds
  • Can sing the alphabet song, recognize and label all letters
  • Understands that specific letters make sounds
  • Recognizes own name and common commercial print banners
  • Writing: begins to draw things in the environment, begins to write name
5-7 y
  • Reads picture books alone, for pleasure
  • Can identify and categorize sounds represented by letters
  • Can identify and count the number of sounds in words
  • Can put together individual sounds into a word and take apart a word into individual sounds
  • Can sound out words by taking specific sounds out of them
  • “Decoding” begins: recognizing sounds in a printed word and sounding them out to form the word
  • Some words recognized by sight
  • Writing: spells out words according to how they sound
7-9 y
  • Reads printed stories alone, for pleasure; may be fiction or non-fiction
  • Starts to play with the sounds of the language, as in Pig Latin, Gibberish, or other “secret” codes
  • Starts to learn appropriate rules for writing (e.g., grammar, punctuation, capitalization)
  • Begins to know and apply reading “rules” or patterns to make shortcuts and avoid decoding,
  • “Learning to read” turns to “reading to learn,” so there is an increased focus on comprehension of written material
  • Writing: Spelling mistakes become less frequent, starts to compose book reports, complexity begins to match that of speaking; mostly tells stories in writing
9-12 y
  • Reads to gather information (reads to learn) and for pleasure
  • Understands more complex forms of writing (beyond expository, such as poetry)
  • Reads with very few errors; decoding is automatic, with understanding of written materials being the focus
  • Writing: Increasingly complex, containing conjoined and embedded clauses; begins persuasive and expository writing in school
12-18 y
  • Studies strategically to retain information read
  • All basic rules of writing structure should be mastered
  • Thinks critically about material read, distinguishing opinion from fact; reasons and applies logical rules to material read
  • Writing: More complex than speech, increases in complexity of form, content, and use if education continues beyond high school