Literacy Accomplishments: Grade 1

The Committee for the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children has compiled detailed lists of literacy accomplishments for children of different ages. Find out what the typical child can do in first grade.

Below are highlights of typical literacy acquisition, supported by decades of research. The timing of these accomplishments depends on maturational and experiential differences among children, as well as the curriculum provided by a school.

  • Makes a transition from emergent to "real" reading.
  • Reads aloud with accuracy and comprehension any text that is appropriately designed for the first half of grade 1.
  • Accurately decodes orthographically regular, one-syllable words and nonsense words (e.g., sit, zot), using print-sound mappings to sound out unknown words.
  • Uses letter-sound correspondence knowledge to sound out unknown words when reading text.
  • Recognizes common, irregularly spelled words by sight (have, said, where, two).
  • Has a reading vocabulary of 300 to 500 words, sight words and easily sounded out words.
  • Monitors own reading and self-corrects when an incorrectly identified word does not fit with cues provided by the letters in the word or the context surrounding the word.
  • Reads and comprehends both fiction and nonfiction that is appropriately designed for grade level.
  • Shows evidence of expanding language repertory, including increasing appropriate use of standard more formal language registers.
  • Creates own written texts for others to read.
  • Notices when difficulties are encountered in understanding text.
  • Reads and understands simple written instructions.
  • Predicts and justifies what will happen next in stories.
  • Discusses prior knowledge of topics in expository texts.
  • Discusses how, why, and what-if questions in sharing nonfiction texts.
  • Describes new information gained from texts in own words.
  • Distinguishes whether simple sentences are incomplete or fail to make sense; notices when simple texts fail to make sense.
  • Can answer simple written comprehension questions based on material read.
  • Can count the number of syllables in a word.
  • Can blend or segment the phonemes of most one-syllable words.
  • Spells correctly three- and four-letter short vowel words.
  • Composes fairly readable first drafts using appropriate parts of the writing process (some attention to planning, drafting, rereading for meaning, and some self-correction).
  • Uses invented spelling/phonics-based knowledge to spell independently, when necessary.
  • Shows spelling consciousness or sensitivity to conventional spelling.
  • Uses basic punctuation and capitalization.
  • Produces a variety of types of compositions (e.g., stories, descriptions, journal entries), showing appropriate relationships between printed text, illustrations, and other graphics.
  • Engages in a variety of literary activities voluntarily (e.g., choosing books and stories to read, writing a note to a friend).

Excerpted from: Snow, C. E., Burns, S. M., & Griffin, P. Editors. (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences. Courtesy of National Academy Press. Reprinted with permission.

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