A Parent’s Guide to Reading Milestones

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Some parents have kids who seem to learn to read with no troubles. For others, it's like pulling teeth to get your kids to look at books, let alone try to read themselves.

If you're worried about whether your child is on the right track, your concerns are natural.

Chances are they're on track with other kids their age. Here are some reading milestones to put your mind at ease, and guidelines for helping your kids learn to read.

Reading Begins Early

Even if you have reluctant readers, there are steps that kids take even as infants to become readers. As you ask the question, "What are reading milestones?" you'll discover that your kids have conquered some of the milestones already. 

There are different approaches when you're looking for reading milestones explained. You can find typical milestones by grade or by age.

Don't hold your kids to these typical brackets. Instead, once they've conquered one milestone, look to the next as the logical goal.


Reading Milestones by Age and Grade

You can look at the levels according to your child's age, or you can find reading milestones by grade level. Yet the best way is to take a look through all the levels.

Your child may be partially between two levels, or even reaching for goals in a category two levels ahead. Here is a brief overview of what each milestone looks like:



Infants (2mo - 1 yr) should start to look at books and hold them in their hands. They can have soft books or books with interesting textures and colors. They can also help turn pages and make sounds in response to hearing a story.

This is all part of learning that words communicate meaning and that they should respond when someone speaks to them.



This age group (1-2 years) is busier, beginning to recognize book covers and pictures with familiar words, like "bath" or "baby." They may be able to answer questions about the things they see in books. Toddlers may also start making up their own stories while they turn pages in books.



Because kids develop so quickly, there are different levels of preschoolers. The age range is 3-4, but a young 3-year-old is very different from an older 4-year-old, so bear that in mind.

Preschoolers should be able to recognize letters and know when they hear rhymes. They should be able to hold a book the right way and know that we read words from left to right. They may recognize their name and start to match letters with sounds.

They might start writing letters and words, especially their name. They may also retell stories they know.



In kindergarten (ages 4-6), your child should know all the letters and letter sounds. They may start to sound out words or recognize words on sight without sounding them out. They may be able to guess what will happen next in a story. 


First and Second Graders

During early elementary (ages 6-8), your child will likely make a lot of progress. They'll start learning spelling and handwriting. They should be able to recognize more sight words and figure out words from context clues. 

Eventually, they will be able to read stories on their own, especially if they are familiar ones. They'll also be able to write their own simple stories, as well as understand the humor in stories. They should be able to answer questions about things they've read.

They may start to correct themselves while they read, and they'll begin to master emphasis and inflection while reading aloud.


Third Graders and Beyond

This is the age (8+ yrs) where kids have learned to read and now they use reading as a tool to learn. They begin to understand language nuances, as well as prefixes, suffixes, and grammar. Kids will start to learn about themes and symbolism in school, and read more difficult texts.


Helping Your Kids With Reading

If you want to help your children with some of these milestones, you can encourage them at each level. Here are some suggestions for how you can help:



For infants, keep books in the house. Join the library and use their services, and make time to read to your infants. Encourage them to turn the pages by asking them, helping them, and demonstrating how.



When reading to your toddler, pause and ask questions about what they see on the page. Ask them to name the objects or finish sentences in books they already know.



Try holding a book the wrong way to be silly and see if they correct you. Sing the alphabet song to them and help them recognize both upper and lower case letters. Help them practice saying the letters of their name and identifying them on the page.

If you want to do more with them at home, ask your child's preschool teacher for letter activity ideas and games you can play together at home.



Point out to your kindergartener that words are everywhere, like road signs and in the store. Answer questions they ask you about words with questions of your own to help them figure out the answer, rather than supplying it.

Continue supplying age-appropriate books and making time to read to them.


First and Second Graders

Ask your children to read aloud to you. Help them understand jokes in a story and why they're funny. Help them figure out what's going on if they seem confused about stories.

Continue to read to them and provide them appropriate reading material. Mystery stories may start to be interesting to this age group.


Third Graders and Beyond

Keep up with your child's classroom learning and homework. Help them if they get stuck, and communicate with your child's teacher. Continue to provide more difficult reading as they grow in their reading skills.


Interesting Reading Material

As you can see, having age-appropriate books is important throughout the process of learning to read. It's also important that the kids are interested in the material. Don't be afraid to introduce your kids to new genres and topics, like nonfiction or mysteries.

Even though we just had Christmas, kids still may be interested in their holiday stories. If you can't find any holiday books they liked, try something else. 

If they like something specific, provide similar books to spark their interest and keep them well supplied.


Growing With Books

The reading milestones above are guidelines. You can use them to mark your children's progress and supply them with appropriate reading material.

For unique books that will motivate your kids at every stage of their reading journey, shop at Code Pineapple.

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