As parents, we’re always concerned whether our child is on par with other kids their age. Whether it be on a physical, academic or social level.

The following article will breakdown some of the common reading milestones by age. However, it’s important to keep in mind that every child develops at a different pace.

Babies (Year 0 – 1)

Birth – 6 Months


Visible signs of your baby being calmed when you recite nursery rhymes and lullabies. Although they do not yet understand the meanings, the calming effect comes from the tone and rhythm of your voice.

Babies will start showing an interest in books by picking them up and throwing them, or by mouthing on them.

6 Months – 1 Year


In these months, babies begin responding when being spoken to. They will also sometimes watch your face when you talk or read.

Babies will show less interest in mouthing books, and start showing more of an interest in the actual story.

When being read to, your baby will try and help you turn the book’s pages.

They will also react to the stories you read by making sounds and patting on the pictures.

Little Timothy showing us the importance of reading to babies
Simon reading at age 2

Toddlers (Year 1 – 3)


In the toddler years, children will learn how to correctly hold a book, as well as successfully turn the pages on their own.

If they’ve been read to consistently, they will have a tendency to ‘invite’ relatives to read to them.

During these years, toddlers will begin to understand that books contain fascinating pictures and stories. And may develop a clear preference for a specific book which they will want you to read often.

Your toddler will enthusiastically finish sentences from their favorite books as you’re reading to them. And will occasionally correct you if you intentionally alter the story and read it incorrectly.

They will be able to identify their favorite books by the color and picture on the cover.

Toddlers will point to familiar objects and pictures when asked, and as they develop, start referring to them by name.

They’ll also be able to answer basic questions you ask about the books being read. Such as “What sound does the dog make?” and “Where is the cat?”

Generally, from the time they’re around 2 years old, you’ll often find toddlers holding a book and pretending to read to their teddy bears, dolls and other stuffed animals.



Early Preschool (Year 3)


During their early preschool years, children will start developing a deeper connection and understanding of books, and they will also start flipping through books on their own.

They will learn that on the surface, stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Furthermore, that stories are set in different locations and have a variety of interesting characters.

From a technical point of view, they will learn that books are read from top to bottom, left to right. You may even find that your child moves their finger from left to right under the words.

Early preschoolers start taking a keen interest in letters as they learn to sing the alphabet song. They will start matching sounds to letters and might even recognize the first letter in their name.

Late Preschool (Age 4)


Late preschoolers are able to name just over half the letters in the alphabet, as well as their matching sounds (it’s important that they begin learning phonics at, or before this point).
Children will also learn to read and write their name.

Four-year olds will begin developing an awareness of syllables, as well as rhyming words (cat, mat, bat).

Amy reading at 4 years old
Jessica reading at age 5, while sitting on a pile of books

Kindergarten (Age 5)


Kids usually make significant strides in kindergarten.

Here are some of the reading milestones to look out for:

The ability to now read simple words, as well as some of the common sight words.

The ability to identify:

Beginning sounds (cat, cap)
Middle sounds (cat, yak)
End sounds (cat, bit)

They will know most, if not all, the letters of the alphabet together with the matching sounds.

Being able to match a few spoken words with their written equivalent.

The ability to write some letters, numbers, and even a few words.

Retelling the main theme of a story, as well as recalling details such as character names, settings and events that unfolded.

Using phonics and word families to dissect and sound out new words.

First Grade (Age 6)


Some noticeable reading milestones for first graders include:

Being able to read familiar short stories on their own. As well as demonstrating an understanding of these stories through their drawings.

These familiar story books will tend to be read in phrases and complete sentences. Whereas unfamiliar books will be read one word at a time.

First graders will start showing an ability to figure out unfamiliar words by looking at pictures, and to a lesser extent, context.
They will also attempt to sound out words that they’re unfamiliar with.

When reading out aloud, children will often reread a sentence or word when they’ve made a mistake. This ability to self-correct will increase as their confidence grows.

Towards the end of year 6, kids will know anywhere between 160 and 200 sight words.

Second & Third Grade (Year 7 & 8)


Second and third graders are noticeably more fluent in their reading.

They will read both familiar and unfamiliar books in phrases and sentences as opposed to one word at a time. However, they will still sound out unfamiliar and longer words.

They will progress from reading short familiar stories, to reading longer books on their own.

There will also be a big improvement in spelling and punctuation.

A grade school learner reading fluently and with confidence. One of the benefits of home reading



These reading milestones are a great way to see how your child’s reading ability is progressing.

However, it’s important to remember that these milestones are not set in stone. Every child develops at a different pace and might spend more time in one stage than in another.

If you feel your child is struggling to keep up with these milestones, a little encouragement will go a long way.

If however you’re concerned that there may be a deeper underlying cause, it’s best to seek help from a professional. Sooner rather than later.

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