The 5 Stages of Literacy Development in Children’s Reading

As a parent, you may have noticed that your child’s journey towards becoming a confident reader can be both exciting and challenging.

Perhaps you’re wondering what you can do to support your child’s literacy development, or you’re simply curious about the different stages of reading proficiency.

Whatever your motivation may be, we’re here to help.

In this post, we’ll discuss the 5 stages of literacy development, and provide practical tips and insights to help your child thrive in each stage.

So, if you’re ready to unlock the secrets of reading proficiency, read on!

5 stages of literacy development featured image of 4 kids standing next to a book shelf while reading


Age Range

Reading Skills & Development

Writing Skills & Development

Emergent Pre-Reading

3 to 5

Awareness of print, understanding written language, recognizing letters and sounds

Pretend writing, developing listening and speaking skills

Early Reading

5 to 7

Decoding, phonemic awareness, reading simple words and sentences

Forming letters, writing names, composing simple sentences

Transitional Reading

7 to 9

Fluent reading, larger sight-word vocabulary, improved comprehension, reading complex texts

Improved grammar, punctuation, and spelling

Intermediate Reading

9 to 13

Sophisticated reading skills, inferences, analyzing, critically evaluating texts

Personal writing style, organizing ideas in complex ways

Advanced Reading

Adolescence and adulthood

Reading complex texts, understanding multiple perspectives, interpreting figurative language

Expressing ideas effectively, coherently, and persuasively

What is literacy?

Literacy is the knowledge and ability to read, write, and use language. It is the foundation of learning and critical thinking and is essential for today’s children to be successful in the future.

For instance, a child who can recognize the alphabet, sound out words, and read stories is already well on their way towards developing strong literacy skills. This knowledge forms the basis for future academic achievement.

As a mom, I’m always on the lookout for ways to help my child strengthen their literacy skills.

I read to them every day, practice sounding out words together, and make sure they have plenty of opportunities to explore books and stories in our home. I also encourage them to play games and interact with other kids who can share their stories and knowledge.

Above all, I want to ensure that literacy is something my child enjoys, not something that feels like a chore, and finding the best learn to read programs can make the process even more enjoyable and effective.

After all, strong literacy skills are critical to our children’s success in both school and in life.

What are the benefits of literacy development in children?

1. Increased Literacy Skills

Developing strong literacy skills is crucial for your child’s growth and development.

It lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning and confidence. As your child engages in early literacy development, they are mastering the foundational skills that will help them succeed in school and in life, such as identifying sounds in words, linking sounds and letters, and understanding stories.

It’s important for kids to develop their literacy skills, as it helps build their confidence and enables them to learn independently.

One way to support your child’s literacy development is by incorporating it into their daily routine. From conversations to songs, from recipes to billboards, there are countless opportunities for literacy events that your child can engage in.

Remember, literacy skills take time to develop, and it’s essential to foster your child’s confidence and love of reading by engaging in fun and educational activities at home.

When my eldest was learning to read and write, we would read stories together, practice writing words, and do puzzles that focused on his literacy development. I found that when he was having fun, he was also learning, and as he gained confidence, he was able to tackle more significant challenges.

In summary, literacy development is a critical part of the learning process, and by exposing your child to language and literacy in everyday life, you are setting them up for success.

So, get creative and make reading and writing a part of your family’s daily routine!


2. Improved Reading Comprehension

Reading and writing require a strong foundation of understanding to be truly mastered, and that’s where early literacy development comes in.

It’s vital for kids to be curious and confident learners, and mastering strong reading skills is one of the best ways to support that.

It’s not just about recognizing words; it’s about mastering multiple reading strategies, like:

  • using prior knowledge
  • visualizing
  • questioning
  • comprehension
  • drawing inferences
  • summarizing
  • and synthesizing

All of these strategies work together to improve reading comprehension.

That’s why early literacy development is so crucial. You can help build your kids’ confidence and literacy skills through everyday activities.

Fostering a love of reading is invaluable and can provide a lifetime of learning and exploration.


3. Improved School Achievement

It’s truly amazing to witness the Research-Backed Benefits of Reading for Young Children and the positive effects that increased literacy can have on a child.

Since my kids started reading, I’ve noticed a remarkable change in their attitude towards learning.

They’ve become more independent in their research, problem-solving, and communication skills. It’s clear that a strong foundation in literacy can be a game-changer for their school achievement and future success.

Early literacy development can be a challenge, but it’s a critical aspect of a child’s education. Reading and writing help children to ask questions, think critically, and explore new ideas. These skills foster better communication and problem-solving abilities, leading to a more profound understanding of the world around them.

At home, parents can support early literacy development by making reading a part of everyday activities. Introduce books in fun and engaging ways, and encourage your child to share stories. Involve them in conversations and ask questions, building their vocabulary and laying the foundation for reading and writing.

It’s important to recognize the significance of early literacy development and the impact it can have on a child’s life.

With the right support, kids can learn to love reading and writing, empowering them to reach their full potential.


4. Increased Confidence in Learning

Literacy development is crucial for our children as it instills confidence in learning, problem-solving, and communication – all critical competencies they’ll need later in life.

From my own experience, I’ve seen how my children’s literacy skills have made them more assured in their learning, and they’ve started to take more ownership of their education.

For instance, my son is a voracious reader, so I’ve made sure to provide him with plenty of books to hone his literacy skills.

Recently, I introduced a new family reading challenge where we aim to read two books every month, and he’s loving it! Whenever he completes a book, I can see the pride in his eyes, and his confidence in his reading ability blossoms.

I strongly believe that cultivating self-esteem and confidence through literacy development is crucial for kids. It not only inspires them to take the initiative in their learning but also enriches their understanding of the world around them.

By mastering complex language and honing problem-solving abilities through reading, children will be better equipped for the future.

That’s why it’s crucial that we foster early literacy development, to instill in our kids a passion for reading and learning that will set them up for success in school and beyond.


5. Increased Vocabulary Knowledge

Increasing your child’s vocabulary knowledge is one of the many benefits of reading and writing. As your child learns to read, they’ll naturally encounter new words and language.

Additionally, reading inspires children to explore and use new words in their own writing, which is crucial for their development.

Building vocabulary knowledge is important for kids because it enables them to express themselves more effectively. It also makes it easier for them to succeed in both academic and personal settings.

The more words they know, the more they can engage with peers, adults, and teachers.

Early literacy development begins at home, and parents play a crucial role in fostering a love of books and language. Whether you’re reading, writing, telling stories, singing songs, or playing word-based games, you’re providing your child with opportunities to learn and grow.

At our own home, we’ve seen firsthand the positive impact of literacy development, which has motivated us to help our kids cultivate a love of words.

With enough encouragement and support, your children can become literate, confident individuals who are equipped to succeed in all areas of life.


6. Better Communication Skills

Literacy skills are the foundation for better communication and learning, two vital skills in life.

Research suggests that literacy development starts at home and that parents are the most important role models in teaching these skills.

One way we can help our kids is by talking to them throughout the day and narrating what we’re doing.

This has a positive impact on their literacy development and can help them better understand the world around them.

For example, while grocery shopping, we can point out different labels on products and ask our children what words they see. We can also encourage them to describe what they see, which fosters creativity and helps them learn to form and express their ideas.

Literature, stories, and books are also great ways to boost literacy development. Reading aloud to our children can help them develop language and listening skills, as well as a love for stories.

It’s also a fantastic way to bond and connect with our kids.

Ultimately, developing literacy skills is important because it equips our children to succeed in school and in life.

With these skills, they can become more self-aware, confident, and independent, and they can also discover a lifelong passion for reading, which can open up countless new opportunities.


7. Increased Ability to Concentrate

Literacy development is a crucial building block for kids that can boost their concentration and focus. With solid literacy skills, children are better equipped to concentrate on a task and avoid distractions.

This is especially important in today’s world, where distractions abound.

It’s like a chain reaction: literacy development leads to stronger concentration which in turn leads to better learning outcomes.

Witnessing their progress is amazing and it highlights just how vital literacy is for a child’s development. It’s more than just reading and writing; it’s a skill that can enhance every aspect of their life.

By nurturing these skills from an early age, you’re enabling your child to improve their ability to concentrate, stay focused, and learn more.

Moreover, the more you work on their literacy development, the more self-assured they’ll become.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and keep helping our kids build the skills they need to grow into confident and accomplished learners.


8. Improved Creativity and Imagination

Reading has a remarkable impact on children’s creativity and imagination. It enhances the ability to think abstractly, make connections between ideas, and cultivate a creative and imaginative mindset.

Through reading, children are introduced to various stories, settings, and characters, providing them with a fresh perspective on the world.

This promotes creativity, helps them think outside the box, and boosts their confidence in their ideas.

A creative and imaginative mindset is crucial for children, as it fosters critical thinking, risk-taking, problem-solving skills, and innovative solutions. Reading is an invaluable tool for early literacy development, which encourages creativity and imagination in children.

It exposes them to different stories, characters, and perspectives, allowing them to explore the world in new ways and develop their confidence.

So, encourage your child to read and discover the world around them, as it may help them become the most creative and imaginative person they can be!


9. Increased Self-Discipline and Responsibility

Early literacy development is crucial for children as it lays the foundation for reading and writing.

By supporting their literacy development, we give them the opportunity to become self-disciplined, responsible, and independent learners. This sets them up for future success by teaching them valuable critical thinking and problem-solving skills. With our guidance and support, children can learn and grow in their literacy development and develop a genuine love for reading.

As parents, we can encourage our children’s love for literacy by exposing them to stories and books.

We can also teach them the importance of self-discipline and responsibility by explaining why reading and writing are essential activities. This will help them understand the world around them and equip them with the tools they need to become confident and independent learners.


10. Increased Social and Emotional Skills

Early literacy development is a crucial aspect of a child’s growth.

It not only helps them become confident readers and writers, but it also boosts their social and emotional skills.

In addition, early literacy development also fosters empathy and understanding in kids.

Children learn to:

  • pay attention to others,
  • express their feelings using words,
  • and listen and understand other people’s emotions

This helps them form strong relationships with peers and adults alike.

Moreover, early literacy development provides children with a creative outlet to explore their imagination and come up with innovative ideas and stories. It enables them to appreciate literature, poetry, and art, thereby building their self-esteem and confidence and connecting them to the world around them.

It’s clear that early literacy development is of utmost importance for kids. It not only helps them become better readers and writers but also enhances their social and emotional skills.

So, if you want your child to succeed, make sure to provide them with the right opportunities to develop their literacy skills.


What are the five stages of literacy development in children?

1. Emergent Pre-Reading

At the start of a child’s literacy journey is the Emergent Pre-Reading stage, which begins at birth and continues until around six years old. During this stage, children will start recognizing letters and words, but they won’t have fully formed reading skills yet.

As a parent, there are some telltale signs to look out for, such as your child pretending to read books, singing the ABCs, trying to memorize certain books, recognizing some letters, and finding words in their environment.

To help your child develop their emergent reading skills, spend at least 20 minutes a day reading with them and discussing the story.

Take turns reading aloud, and don’t rush them when they start to read. As a mom, I also like to engage with language through nursery rhymes or silly rhymes to help build their letter and sound knowledge.

It’s an exciting time to watch your child start to read, and with the right strategies, you can help them become confident readers and writers.

2. Early Reading stage

The Early Reading stage is a key developmental phase in a child’s literacy journey, typically occurring between the ages of 5-7.

At this stage, kids are no longer pretending to read, but rather starting to recognize words and admitting when they don’t know certain words. They begin to use pictures and context clues to decipher words and can read out loud word by word.

As a parent, it’s crucial to continue reading aloud to your child and demonstrating how to question, predict, and comprehend.

Introducing new vocabulary in context and focusing on letters in their name and other significant words can also aid in their literacy development.

When shopping, reading the environment by pointing out signs and labels can be a helpful activity. Encouraging guessing and predicting can also assist in their reading progress.

3. Transitional Reading

Stage 3 of reading development is a big deal in the literacy journey of kids!

It’s often referred to as the “transitional” stage because it’s where children aged 7-9 develop strong reading skills that can vary greatly.

This is a critical stage where kids can make a big leap in their literacy development.

At this stage, kids can recognize high-frequency words automatically, decode words more easily, read for meaning, and spell complex consonant words like “-tch”. They also have a better ability to comprehend reading materials, self-correct when they encounter unclear text, and use a combination of reading strategies.

As a parent, it’s crucial to support your child during this stage of development.

Encourage them to read for meaning and use strategies like context clues, comprehension, and prediction strategies, and asking questions when they come across unknown words.

Reading aloud together is also a fun way to cultivate their love of reading! For instance, try asking open-ended questions related to the text and see where their imagination takes them.

Watching our little ones grow up can be bittersweet, but this stage of reading development is truly an exciting and rewarding time.

With a little patience, understanding, and encouragement, your child will be on their way to becoming a proficient reader in no time!

4. Intermediate Reading

Let’s talk about Stage 4 of literacy development, also known as the Intermediate Reading stage. At this point, children are between the ages of 9 and 15 years and are well on their way to becoming accomplished readers.

They’re developing stronger reading skills and starting to rely more on their own abilities to learn new words. Longer materials, such as textbooks, are becoming less of a challenge and they’re keen on expanding their vocabulary.

As a parent, there are several strategies you can use to help your child thrive during this stage.

For instance, you can encourage them to read for fun, talk to them about what they’re reading, and help them ask questions to deepen their understanding of the material. It’s also a good idea to provide them with a variety of reading materials, such as books, magazines, and online articles.

One trick that worked for me was getting my son hooked on reading about his favorite sports teams online. He was so absorbed in the articles that he read for a whole hour without taking a break! It was a proud moment for me, and it motivated him to keep reading.

So, with a little creativity and support, you can help your child develop a lifelong love of reading during this exciting stage.

5. Advanced Reading

The Advanced Reading stage marks the final level of literacy development, where children become fully proficient in reading and writing independently. Typically occurring during adolescence and adulthood, this stage involves delving into complex reading materials, making connections between texts and ideas, and developing a lifelong love of reading.

At this stage, children have the ability to comprehend and retain lengthy texts, write essays and book reports, and grasp the meaning and nuances of words.

To support literacy development for kids in this stage, I recommend exposing them to a variety of reading materials and creating a daily or weekly reading routine.

Even though it can be challenging to find the time and energy to keep up with your child’s reading development, it’s essential to set a good example and demonstrate the importance and rewards of reading.

How can you help your child at each stage of literacy development?

Emergent Pre-Reading:

  • Help children to become familiar with books by making regular trips to the library.
  • Introduce children to print by pointing to letters and reading simple books together.
  • Play games that involve rhyming, alliteration and other phonics activities.

Early Reading Stage:

  • Practice reading simple sight words using flash cards.
  • Break down longer words into smaller chunks to make them easier to read.
  • Teach children the letter-sound relationships to help them decode words.

Transitional Reading:

  • Read aloud books that are slightly above the child’s reading level to help them learn new words.
  • Encourage children to use context clues to figure out unfamiliar words.
  • Make sure children practice their fluency by reading aloud.

Intermediate Reading:

  • Encourage children to read complex texts on their own.
  • Use discussion and activities to help children develop comprehension skills.
  • Introduce children to new vocabulary words as they come up in their reading.

Advanced Reading:

  • Help children to analyze and evaluate the literature they read.
  • Ask children to explain the themes and ideas in their reading.
  • Encourage children to read a variety of complex texts.



What is the best way to help a child become a fluent reader?

If you want to help your child become a fluent reader, the secret is to provide them with a range of interesting and stimulating reading materials and engage them in thoughtful conversations about what they’ve read.

To further boost their reading skills, parents can also ask their children open-ended questions and actively listen to their responses. Another fun idea is to encourage them to choose a theme and organize a book club with their friends. If your child is still struggling with fluency, educators can assist them by giving them chances to re-read texts or selecting lower-level books with a focus on reading smoothly and with confidence.


How can parents help their children develop literacy skills?

Parents play a key role in helping their children develop literacy skills.

Talking to your child throughout the day and engaging them in conversations is one of the best ways to promote early literacy development. Reading stories to them, making books relevant to their lives, asking them questions, and helping them tell stories are all great ways to nurture critical reading skills.

It’s important to remember that reading should be fun, not an obligation, so keep it light and encouraging. By providing these experiences and resources, parents can help their children become eager, lifelong learners.


What are the benefits of rhyming for literacy development?

Rhyming can have numerous benefits for literacy development. It helps children recognize the common endings in words, which prepares them for breaking words down into their smaller parts.

Additionally, rhyming can capture a baby’s attention through the repetition of nursery rhymes and poetry, making it easier to associate words with the objects in their world. When babies and toddlers begin to recognize letters, they can also learn to link certain letters with the sounds they make.

Finally, communicating with your child, asking questions, and narrating your day-to-day activities can further promote early literacy development.


How does having a large vocabulary help with literacy?

Having a large vocabulary helps with literacy by giving readers access to more words and ideas that can enhance their understanding of stories, texts, and other reading materials.

Having a larger vocabulary can also help readers better understand and make inferences from the reading materials, as well as draw connections between different ideas and concepts. Furthermore, having a larger vocabulary can help readers increase their fluency and comprehension skills, which are two key components of literacy.

Finally, having a large vocabulary can also help readers generate a wider range of ideas, creative solutions, and meaningful interpretations when writing.


How can one determine the reading level of a child?

To determine the reading level of a child, it is important to understand the five stages of reading development.

At each stage, children develop new skills, such as being able to read and comprehend long novels and complex words. Educators and parents can assess a child’s reading level by looking for certain behaviors, such as the ability to understand and retain complex reading materials, formulate longer texts, and read multiple types of materials.

Additionally, reading level tests and assessments can help to provide an accurate measure of a child’s reading level, and can be adapted to the child’s age and interests.

By understanding the five stages of reading development, parents and educators can ensure that children are provided with appropriate leveled texts and instruction for their reading level.

Help your child progress through the five stages of literacy development

Literacy is an important skill that children need to thrive in today’s world.

By following a comprehensive guide tailored specifically for children, you can help them progress through the five stages of reading development and learn essential skills for lifelong learning.

We hope this resource will be helpful as you help your child build a foundation for future success.