Lists of words compiled on the basis of their frequency of occurrence in writings of various kinds have long been considered "basic" materials for reading instruction. It is said teachers should use such lists because the child best learns to read if the order of the words presented to him for this purpose is governed by the relative frequency words occur in written materials. Put another way, it is argued that if word A occurs more often in written matter of different types than does word B it then should be presented for a child to learn to read before word B is presented. There is a certain logic to support this procedure. Unknown words that appear frequently in a child's reading material surely pose more of a handicap to his success here than would unknown words that appear infrequently. Consequently, one can agree with Hillerich1 that "most educators accept the need for a basic list."
Groff, P. (1976). Some Semantics of Basic Word Lists. Reading Horizons, 16 (3). Retrieved from http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/reading_horizons/vol16/iss3/6