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How children learn to read has intrigued parents, teachers, and psychologists as well as reading authorities and researchers for many years. The question of when children should learn to read has been debated extensively since the 1930s. The attention to this question may have resulted in a lack of acknowledgement that learning to be literate begins long before the formal introduction to reading in a school setting. In this article prereading and beginning reading are examined from both a historical and a current perspective with emphasis on implications of recent findings on children's literacy learning for instruction.

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