Beginning readers must apply their decoding skills to fluent, automatic reading of text. Children who are reading with adequate fluency are much more likely to comprehend what they are reading.
Thus the concept of independent reading level is important: it is that level at which the child recognizes more than 95 percent of the words and can read without laboring over decoding.
Poor readers often read too slowly. Some poor readers have a specific problem with fluent, automatic text reading even though they have learned basic phonics.
Recent research has highlighted the value of specific classroom activities to build reading fluency in slow readers. Some useful techniques include:
- Several readings of easy material to a tape recorder or partner,
- Guided oral reading with teacher or partner feedback, and
- Choral reading or simultaneous oral reading.
The idea of silent reading across a series of books at about the same difficulty level is thought to be helpful but is not so well supported by research.
Repeated reading techniques, however, are only effective if children can read the individual words in the selections with acceptable speed.
Word-by-word readers or those who sound out words with difficulty may need more basic instruction in fluent application of phonics to single words. Teachers need to know how to match instruction to individual needs.