Building Better Readers: The 5 Keys to Reading Success

Posted by Shari Robertson on

In 2000, the National Reading Panel, based on a comprehensive review of the relevant literature, issued a report that identified 5 skills that were found to be most critical to reading success. In other words, “what works” in teaching children to read.

These five skills are:
    • Phonemic Awareness: the ability to identify and manipulate the SOUNDS in spoken language
    • Phonics: The ability to match a sound with a symbol
    • Reading Fluency: Reading aloud with appropriate speed, accuracy, and prosody
    • Vocabulary: the body of words an individual can identify and use
    • Text Comprehension: the ability to understand the material being read
There are many ways to target these skills, but my favorite is to teach reading by reading with children. Consequently, all of the children’s literature from Dynamic Resources is developed to target at least one skill. For instance:

The report emphasizes that none of these components is a complete program in and of itself; in fact, all five components must be mastered for individuals to become good readers. So, when choosing a book or activity to support reading, it is important to identify which of these skills is/are being facilitated.  

  • Pants on Ants targets phonemic awareness by contrasting words that differ by a single phoneme (e.g., howl/owl).
  • Capering Cows includes rich vocabulary (e.g., glamorous/amorous)
  • Spotless Spot encourages children to create their own storyline (text comprehension)
  • Run, Turkey, Run helps children learn new prepositions (vocabulary)

Supporting literacy in the home and school environments is my passion. But, it is also a lot of fun. If you use the 5 skills to guide your efforts, you will be on your way to Building Better Readers!

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  • Phonics is very important and plays a very important role in teaching kids to read. Some reading programs like Jim’s that are based on phonics activities can also be very helpful for parents that are trying to teach their child to read. They should also search for different phonics-based activities online.

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  • I have been using this book all year to focus on reading fluency in the co taught first grade in which I work with the sp ed teacher to teach reading. I am also engaged in a book study with the other 2 SLPs with whom I work. I LOVE the book. Easy to read; strategies were easy to implement and were so functional; and the kids love it! I feel that in a school, this is where our expertise can be the most utilized. Thank you for the extensive resource section for each chapter. This is where my $ is going now to build a library to support this book but the referenced books are so common they are easy to find as you assemble your collection in any school/public library.

    Christine Caffrey MA, CCC-SLP on

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