Skip to main content
preschooler with picture book

Early Literacy Development

Goals for First Grade: Early Reading and Writing

Children go through phases of reading development from preschool through third grade — from exploration of books to independent reading. In first grade, children begin to read simple stories and can write about a topic that is meaningful to them. Find out what parents and teachers can do to support first grade literacy skills.

In first grade, children begin to read simple stories and can write about a topic that is meaningful to them.

Children can:

  • Read and retell familiar stories
  • Use strategies (rereading, predicting, questioning, contextualizing) when comprehension breaks down
  • Use reading and writing for various purposes on their own initiative
  • Orally read with reasonable fluency
  • Use letter-sound associations, word parts, and context to identify new words
  • Sound out and represent all substantial sounds in spelling a word
  • Write about topics that are personally meaningful
  • Attempt to use some punctuation and capitalization

What teachers do:

  • Support the development of vocabulary by reading daily to the children, transcribing their language, and selecting materials that expand children’s knowledge and language development
  • Model strategies and provide practice for identifying unknown words
  • Give children opportunities for independent reading and writing practice
  • Read, write, and discuss a range of different text types (poems, informational books)
  • Introduce new words and teach strategies for learning to spell new words
  • Demonstrate and model strategies to use when comprehension breaks down
  • Help children build lists of commonly used words from their writing and reading

What parents and family members can do:

  • Talk about favorite storybooks
  • Read to children and encourage them to read to you
  • Suggest that children write to friends and relatives
  • Bring to a parent-teacher conference evidence of what your child can do in writing and reading
  • Encourage children to share what they have learned about their writing and reading

Excerpted from: Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children, part 4: Continuum of Children’s Development in Early Reading and Writing. (May, 1998) A joint position of the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children position statement (full-text PDF).

You are welcome to print copies for non-commercial use, or a limited number for educational purposes, as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact the author or publisher listed.