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Learning to Read

Reading Should Be Easy
August 23, 2013 By M. J. Maynard

If you have a beginning reader in your life, I hope the learning experience is going well for both of you. There is nothing more rewarding than the sound of hearing a child read a book with little or no help.

Unfortunately, some parents and educators lose perspective when it comes to judging a level of easiness for their child's reading materials. In our adult world, a "challenge" is something that has to be hard. This philosophy is fine if we are trying to reach a goal, such as trimming inches from our waistlines. However, the "no pain, no gain" idea does not apply to a young child learning to read. Difficulty in the task just blocks the process.

Practicing on material that is at an easy level allows a child to build fluency. He or she will get better and better with reading that flows along. If they have to make a lot of stops on difficult words, the meaning gets lost. When the material is too hard, all the strategies they know seem to go away, and reading turns into an unsuccessful and unpleasant experience.

So, how do you know if a book is too hard for your tender reader? Education professionals use this scale for determining the level of reading difficulty:

  • Easy - 95-100% of the words can be read accurately. In other words, no more than 1 in 20 words are missed. Books for independent practice should fall in this range.
  • Instructional - 90-94% of the words can be read. About 1 in every 10 words are difficult. This level needs teaching support when a child reads.
  • Frustration - Less than 90% of the words can be read; more than 1 in 10 words are missed. Avoid trying something this hard.

As you child improves you will be able to gradually feed in books that are a little harder. Also, you can take away those which become so well-known that they speed through them with barely a look at the words. You will get a feel for what is just right for your child.

May you both enjoy this journey as your child grows and develops into a skilled, independent reader.


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