Your child’s reading development starts early! Find everything you need to know about what an Emergent Reader needs to succeed in their reading journey here!

What is an Emergent Reader?

Sometimes known as a “Beginner Reader,” an Emergent Reader is usually a term reserved for early childhood students who have shown interest in reading but cannot yet read independently.

Usually found in Pre-K and Kindergarten students, a few specific characteristics can single out Emergent Readers. However, this stage occurs within all children and is vital to their development as independent, confident readers.

Emergent Readers can pick up on reading faster than their fellow students who may not have yet entered this stage of development. Supporting an Emergent Student’s curiosity and attempts to read with vigor will help their reading development increase dramatically!

Signs of an Emergent Reader

As mentioned before, Emergent Readers can be noticed through specific characteristics. For example, your student or child may be an Emergent Reader if they:

  • Have a healthy appetite for reading but may not yet be able to discern sentences or more complicated words.
  • Understand the alphabet and can recite most or all of it without visual aid.
  • Understands the uses of writing, as they know letters, sentences, paragraphs, etc., can convey messages.
  • May attempt or pretend to read stories they are familiar with hearing (as an example, they may try to read along with bedtime stories phonically).
  • Attempt to write (scribble sentences or words, as if to copy sentences they see).

The Stages of Reading Development

The Emergent Reader stage of a child’s reading development is the first step to their growing comprehension of the English language. In most circles, there are Five Stages to Reading Development. These stages are:

Emergent Reader

As mentioned above, these readers are just grasping the concept of the alphabet and words. They are driven by their curiosity and interest in written language but cannot yet read independently. Usually, Emergent Readers are around six months to 6 years old.

Novice Reader

Novice Readers can now read aloud, connecting letters with phonics and allowing them to “sound out” whatever they may be reading. However, novice Readers may still require help from a teacher or parent and struggle to read independently. Novice Readers are typically found between the ages of 6 to 7.

Decoding Reader

Decoding Readers can decode vocabulary to allow the stories they are reading to flourish as they read. In addition, these readers can discern meaning in the words they read through decoding methods. Decoding Readers can be anywhere from 7 to 9 years old!

Fluent Reader

Fluent Readers can thoroughly read sentences and passages and comprehend the basic meaning of each word. In addition, they can recite passages within their head and write fluently. Fluent Readers vary in age, but most are between 9 and 15 years old!

Expert Reader

Finally, Expert Readers can discern different meanings within texts. They can read different tenses, perspectives, and types of writing with little to no issue. It is the final stage of every reader’s development. Expert readers usually fully develop around the age of 16 and older!

Everyone goes through these development stages before they are expert readers! Emergent Readers are simply the first step toward your child’s journey into the world of reading! Being aware of each stage prepares parents and teachers alike for each phase of a child’s development.

Why is the Emergent Reader Stage Essential?

Everyone has to start somewhere. Emergent Readers are the beginning of your child’s learning to read fluently!

The Emergent Reader Stage is when children begin to harness interest in reading. Though they cannot phonically connect language to the written word without assistance, they can comprehend that meaning is derived from the sentences and stories they listen to.

Emergent Reader’s knowledge of the alphabet and certain CORE words (stop, go, on, off, etc.) allows them to easily absorb lessons centered on reading aloud with guidance. Along with interest in writing and stories, reading lessons are ideal for teaching them the next steps of reading development.

Creating moments where reading is fun and engaging for Emergent Readers will invite them to continue reading. And if a student falls in love with reading, they will be inspired to try examining harder passages and increase their reading prowess!

How to Engage an Emergent Reader

Every Emergent Reader is different. With this in mind, you will have to consider other ways to engage your emergent reader! Collecting easy-to-read-aloud books and reading resources will help you find what might interest your students.

Also, when reading with an Emergent Reader, try finger-point reading along with them. Finger-point reading uses your finger to point to each word and then read it out, harnessing both motor and mental functions to make memorization easier. Modeling finger-point reading to children will inspire them to pick up this habit.

Beyond just collecting interesting reading material and training their memorization, you must also find ways to boost your student’s or child’s confidence in their reading skills. For example, allow your children to follow along with simple sentences. Reading aloud independently can help them feel comfortable and aid their growing confidence.

With newfound confidence, children can also begin to see a connection between communicating and writing. Between reading lessons, have open conversations with students about the passages, sentences, or stories you are reading together. Connecting meaning to words harnesses children’s listening skills and reading comprehension, helping their developing brains to gather new information on the words they are just beginning to comprehend.

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