Supporting emergent readers requires teachers to have a clear understanding of how readers develop in the early years. Building on the importance of children's literature discussed in previous chapters, this chapter explains the reading process and the role of language development, with a focus on the meaningful integration of letter–sound knowledge. Using a rich selection of texts with explicit guidance and support, children can develop the various skills and reader roles that lead to successful literacy learning.
Anticipated outcomes for the chapter
After working through this chapter, you should be able to:• define the main elements of the reading process• understand some of the key issues in reading development• appreciate the history of reading instruction and the various approaches• understand the role that phonics and phonemic awareness has in learning to read• explore a variety of strategies for teaching reading in the early years of schooling.
SCENARIO: AMY AND LOUIS
A two year old, four year old and five year old gather excitedly around a new book. They discuss the cover and then a quick picture walk reveals the two main characters, Amy and Louis, are quite similar in many ways to these young readers – they like to play and visit each other, but are also quite sad when one has to leave.
Pictures of clouds inspire imaginings – a sea-horse! A dragon!
Settling down to read together, small eyes watch and listen intently. Upon hearing the refrain ‘Coo-ee Amy!’ they happily join in as the story unfolds.
Sadly, one character has to move across the oceans, away from her friend. ‘Oh, they don't live together’ comments the four year old, while the two year old points to the picture and says, ‘He looks a bit sad’.
When Louis shouts out with all his might to his friend Amy across the world, the children spontaneously join in, willing Amy to hear her friend. They all agree that Amy does hear her friend from across the oceans.
Discussion ensues about the pictures, where favourite pages are noted. ‘I love her calling ‘Coo-ee’ to her friend but I don't like it that they are lonely’ explains the four year old.