The best predictor of success in reading is a child’s familiarity with the the alphabet. This includes knowing a letter’s name, shape, and sound. A child who can name the letters and their sounds accurately and quickly have an easier time learning how to read. For most children, alphabet knowledge begins to develop before they enter school.
Printed letters are the visual links that we pair with speech sounds. Our brains store these letter-sound associations and use them to read and write words. The fundamental insight that spoken sounds can be mapped onto printed letters is called the alphabetic principle.
The Building Blocks of Reading
In Baltimore, a pre-kindergarten program called Children’s Literacy Initiative helps at-risk children meet the school’s high expectations.