Reading Skills for Struggling Readers

Learning to read is a complex task and some children struggle to become successful readers.  The research and instructional literature has told us that Grade 3 is a critical benchmark for determining whether kids will become successful readers.  That literature has also told us that kids must master a range of skills: phonological awareness, phonics/decoding, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency.  On my T.A.L.K. blog ( ) I have focused on age 3 to grade 3 language/literacy development, especially for kids who have learning challenges.

Over the next few months, I will focus here on the reading/literacy skills kids need and CAN develop in grades 4-8.  I will begin with comprehension, then address vocabulary, and then fluency.  In those blogs I will consider the role of oral language and writing/spelling as well as reading.

I am going to use an ABC’s format.

A for About.  Offering an  annotated bibliography of research and literature from expert researchers/practitioners, I’ll highlight those authors who have influenced my work and/or have widespread acknowledgement as experts.

B for Begin. Using those annotated sources, I’ll highlight ones that offer a place for teachers, special educators and parents to begin an instructional process.

C for Commitment.  Using A and B sources, I’ll map out a substantial teaching  sequence for some of those sources, with goals and objectives, instructional ideas and ….tools for progress monitoring.



7 Qs. Question 5: Where?

Literacy Learning Can Happen Anywhere/Everywhere!


Learning to read has to begin at home with primary caregivers and family.  The family initially fosters oral communication, interest in books and stories, and learning about sounds, letters and words.  Primary caregivers may also include home daycares as well as extended family.  I believe our job as advocates for development of successful readers is to work to provide resources for these primary caregivers.  Below are some sites that may be useful.!



Believing in the concept that “It takes a village!,” we also support the idea that there are resources outside of the home that can facilitate language/literacy development, even for the youngest learners.   See, for example,

Physicians (Reach Out and Read)

“Our story began 25 years ago inside the medical exam rooms of Boston City Hospital. There, pediatricians and educators had the incredible foresight to integrate books for children and advice for parents on reading aloud into standard pediatric care. It was a simple idea with a remarkable outcome. Today, the research to support this practice is stronger than ever: the first five years of a child’s life offer a critical window for brain growth and language development, and frequent exposure to language and reading at home sets a strong foundation for young children to learn. By encouraging parents to read aloud to their babies and toddlers,

Reach Out and Read’s pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, and other medical providers play a key role in ensuring the healthy development of our nation’s youngest children.”

Whole Communities

“Funding is only part of the solution. Getting all children in New Bedford reading on grade level will require the entire community and a shift in our thinking “


The library will even come to you!

The Police Department (Yes, the Police Department)

Other Volunteer Based Programs




Starting in preschool and continuing into K-2 classrooms and beyond…..


Preschool becomes the Toddlers first “classroom.”

Primary Grades and Beyond

Throughout the School


There are so many resources online that I don’t know where to begin (or end).  They include information and ideas for parents and teachers, access to books, games and activities, research, and resources (both commercial and free).

For example:

And there are sites/links specific to struggling readers:


And so?  So, what tools and skills do we need to maximize the contribution of each type of stakeholder/advocate—family, school, “local” community, online community?