What is reading readiness?

by Delle P. Matthews
Anne Klaassens (contributor)
Leah B. Walter (contributor)
Trudy K. Stewart (general editor)
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Reading readiness is the readiness to profit from beginning reading instruction.

Also known as:
  • prereading
  • emergent literacy
  • early literacy
Terms for reading readiness

Over the years, various terms have been used for reading readiness. The "correct" term depends on when and with whom and about whom you use it.


In these modules, the term used is reading readiness. If this choice is not a good one for you, feel free to substitute one with which you are more comfortable.


See the Definition submodule above for some of the most common terms.


Reading readiness has been described in various ways by reading theorists. Here are some of their descriptions:

  • The teachable moment for reading: a point in time when the pupil is ready to learn how to read. (Dechant 1991)
  • “A transition extending over several months during which time the child (student) gradually changes from a non-reader to a beginning reader. In this case the readiness program couples the (student's) past learning with new learning and brings the (student), gradually, through the transition." (Clay 1991)
Reading readiness in an instructional program

Different reading readiness activities are included in all instructional programs. These ongoing activities are designed to teach reading readiness skills.


Reading readiness is taught separately in some instructional programs. In other instructional programs it is a part of the basic reading and writing instruction. The reading program you have chosen and modified will determine when and how you will handle reading readiness.


Here are some ways that different instructional programs approach reading readiness:


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Page content last modified: 16 September 1999

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