Nurture Literacy Skills With This Reading Roadmap (2023)

Most parents with reading kids would agree that the day our kids started reading on their own, it was amazing — like a switch just flipped on! Ifyou’re the parent of a preschooler or anearly reader,there’s plenty you can do to get that switch in the“on” position for your own child.

Of course, readingis a skill that developsat different timesfor each child. And even though it may seem to happen overnight, the ability to read usually comes to kids after years and years of “pre-reading.” Things like the instructions kids receive at school, how parents help with reading at home,and even a child’s own passion for learning can all play a part in how and when a child learns to read.

To help you make sure your child is on the right path, here is a general roadmap of literacy skills by age and what to expect on the path to reading.Every child and schoolisunique, but after reading this, you’ll understand general landmarks to look for, and gain some useful tips on how to help instill a lifetime love of literacy in your child.

Want more book and reading ideas?Sign upfor our Scholastic Parents newsletter.

Ages 3 to 5: Playful Pre-Readers

Skills They’re Working On

At this stage,kids are typically working on recognizing each letter in the alphabet,andtheir corresponding sounds.Withtheir developing motor skills, it’s common for kids this age to have trouble forming word sounds like “f”, “r”, “s”, and “th.” (Here's everything you need to know about language and literacy development in preschoolers.)

What They’re Learning in School

Amajorskillthatneeds to be established at this age is phonemic awareness, saysAndrew DiNapoli, director of curriculum at the Baldwin School District in Long Island, New York.“With phonemic awareness, you’re not using any print,”he says. “You’re asking students to make a connection between sounds and letters.”This might involveasking students what sounds they hear in the word “big” withoutthemseeing the word,or clapping out syllables in a longer word.

Each classroom is different, but preschool teachers will generallywork on this and otherpre-reading skills such repeating rhymingwords,using flashcards to recognize sight words,and of course, plenty ofreadingaloudto kids.

HowYou Can Support Them atHome

There areplentyof fun and easy ways to help your child continue to grow these skills:

  • Work on rhyming skillsbypointing out everyday objects and asking your child to name a word that rhymes with them. For inspiration and practice, check outBOB Books: Rhyming Words.

  • Help them learn to love reading with a hilarious box set likeScholastic Early Learners:Funny Furry TalesorScholastic Early Learners:Animal Antics— which come with16 readers, stickers,and reward charts.Before you know it, your kids will be begging toread(after all, they'll be eager to collect those reward stickers)! TheFirst Little Readers Guided Reading Pack will also help your child develop key skills before heading off to kindergarten.

  • Continue practicing importantpre-readingskillsby talking to yourchild throughout the day. “That might include picking up a box of cerealin the storeand saying, ‘Do I want this box or thisotherbox?’”saysDiNapoli. “It may seem silly stating obvious things,but the amount of vocabulary achildis exposed to from an auditory standpoint reallyaffects thevocabularythey build.”

  • Help them findeasy readers withbook characters they love and relate to in order to makeeverydayreadingpracticemore fun. TryScholastic Level 1 readers such asMobyShinobi,the helpful (if sometimes clumsy!) ninja boy,orILove School, starring the fluffyand adorable dog Noodles.You might even try the delightful rhyming story ofSilly Milly!

Ages 6 to 7:  Newly Independent Readers


While children this age may still needhelpdecoding trickier words, they typically begin to read simple sentences andearlyreader books on their own. They’re also developingtheir reading comprehension skillsand writing skills. For some kids,pronunciation of trickysounds like “r”may still be a work on progress. (Here's everything you need to know about language and literacy skills in kids ages 6 to 7.)

What They’re Learning in School

DiNapolisays a school’s approach to literacy education will vary, but ingeneral,kids this age are exposed tomanydifferentstrategiesto help them master their reading and writing skills.Reading with a partner, guided reading, reading solo, interactive writing activities, learning and applying different decoding strategies to text,andplaying wordgames to further understand word sounds (i.e.“If we replace the “m” in “mop” with “b”,what’s the new word?”)are just a few things your child may be covering in the classroom.

Reading homework at this agemay be alist ofweekly sight wordsor daily reading.Worksheets that cover reading may also be a part of homework.

HowYou Can Support ThematHome

Whether your child has assigned reading every night or none at all, you can support their budding reading skills by helping them find books that both speak to their interests and are appropriate for their reading level.

  • This is the beginning of your child’s reading adventure, so it’s important to enchant them with captivating reads that are also appropriate for their age. These can sometimes be difficult to find (some early readers can be a tad yawn-worthy), which is why the Acorn line of books was created — it includes engaging and exciting reads perfect for kids this age, includingA Crabby Book: Let’s Play, Crabby!,Unicorn and Yeti: Sparkly New Friends, andHello, Hedgehog! Do You Like My Bike?.

  • Getting your child invested in a book series is a great way to get them to read multiple books without begging! With short chapters and lots of illustrations, the book series in theBrancheslinearealsogreat for beginner readers ready to transition from picture books to more challenging reads(Branches books are ideal for readers who have advanced from the Acorn series).To begin, check out the feathered tales ofOwl Diaries,the doggie duo ofHaggis and Tank, and the thrilling adventures ofKung Pow Chicken.

  • Even if your child is reading well on their own, you can use shared reading time at home tofurther enhancetheirkeyskills. DiNapoli recommends talking to your child’s teacher to see which decoding skills they may need work onto improve their reading fluency and comprehension.“Asktheteacher what yourchildisrelyingon most — visual or syntax clues,” he says.“Whatever they’re not relying on, parents can use shared reading time to target those gaps at home.”

  • For kids who aren’t wild about reading at home, consider a reader that’s tied to a cartoonor toythey love,like theLevel 2Magic School Bus Rides Againreaders orthe Level 2TheLego Batman Movie: Robin to the Rescue!Anchoring their reading material with other interests can help them see the joy in reading for pleasure. Here'sa full list of booksthat turn reluctant readers in 1st and 2nd grade into voracious readers.

Age 8: Confident Independent Readers


By the third grade, most kids are reading independently and can decode most words on their own. They’re gainingmanynewskills— for instance, they’ll be able to summarize what they read and use text to support their ideas. Writing skills will start to mature,too,as sentences turn into paragraphs. They’ll also use their new language skills to help themform deeper relationships with friends.(Here are more important reading milestones for children in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.)

What They’re Learning in School

Around the third grade, schoolwork starts to shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Kids are expected to have mastered the basic concepts of decoding sounds and words.They usethese readingskills to study more complex topics like history, science, social studies, and literary themes. If you want more details, check out our comprehensive grade guides.

While context clues can help younger kids identify new words, this may be harder to doas school topics get more complex, saysDiNapoli. “This is such a great age for students to start understanding different terms,” he says.Parentscan help by increasing the volume of both offictionandnonfictionbooks kids have access to outside of school.

HowYou Can Support ThematHome

  • Asreading homework becomesmoreassignment-based,this is a great time to remind your kids that reading is something they can (and should!) dojust for fun. Now is a great time to grab the chapter books you’ve been hungry to share with them. FromtheHarry Potter seriestothe updated edition ofThe Babysitter’s Club, eight is theidealageto forma family book club.

  • Pick an exciting series that’s geared to third gradelikeGeronimo,Goosebumps,The Puppy Place,orWings of Fire. Or show them nonfiction reads don’t have to be boring with a readthat appeals to their interests,likeInside the World of Roblox(which isbased on a computer game).

  • If your child is hesitant to read once their homework is done,continue reading the engagingBranchesbooksfor their shorter chapters and many pictures that areengaging for reluctant readers. The Dragon MastersandLastFirehawkseriesare kid favorites in the Branches series.

Ages 9+:  The DeclineByNine Begins, So  Keep Them Hooked! 

By this age,most kids have strong independent reading skills.This translates intostronger language skillsas well. Suddenly they may be able to infer when you’re not having a great day and may start to form strongeremotionalrelationships with their peers.

However,the found that this is the age at which kids start to lose interest in reading just for fun. Only 35% of9-year-olds report reading 5to7 days a week, compared to 57% of8-year-olds.

What's more, fewer9-year-olds think reading for fun matters, with only 57% saying they think reading books for fun is extremely or very important,compared to 65% of8-year-olds. Thenumber of kids who say they love reading also drops as kids get older,  from 40% of8-year-olds to only 28%of9-year-oldsclaiming a passion for books.

What They’re Learning in School

Reading homework may feel more like “work” now. While each teacher may handle assignments differently, DiNapoli notes that workbooksand reading logs (or having to read for a certain amount of time) are all common homework assignments at this age.

HowYou Can Support ThematHome

  • Ifyour child is resisting reading chapter booksbecause they feel like more homework,try giving themgraphic novelsto keep things exciting.(It still counts as reading!Here are three ways graphic novels advance key reading skills.) Or, if they love video games, try a book that’s also action-packed, likeProject Z: A Zombie Ate My Homework.

  • Give your childplenty ofdecision-making powerwhen it comes to what they read.“Tell themit’s okay to abandon acertain book after afewpages, as long as it doesn’t become a trend,” says DiNapoli. “It gives themthatempowerment of choice.” When kids have a say in what they read, it keeps them interested in books.

  • Get them hooked on a series.Pitching your child on a bunch of books when they’re reluctant to pick upevenone may seem likea stretch, butDiNapoli saysgetting theminto a seriesis an easy way to ensure they’ll read multiple books.The most popular series with this age group includePercy Jackson and the Olympians,Wings of Fire, andDiary of a Wimpy Kid.
  • Make a reading inventory listto help older kids recognizethe types of booksthey like to read, andto keep their passion for reading thriving.As a bonus,they may realize they read more than they think, and start to truly think of themselves as “readers”!
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kelle Weber

Last Updated: 02/18/2023

Views: 5784

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kelle Weber

Birthday: 2000-08-05

Address: 6796 Juan Square, Markfort, MN 58988

Phone: +8215934114615

Job: Hospitality Director

Hobby: tabletop games, Foreign language learning, Leather crafting, Horseback riding, Swimming, Knapping, Handball

Introduction: My name is Kelle Weber, I am a magnificent, enchanting, fair, joyous, light, determined, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.