Successful readers are not born; they are made. The act of reading, though a seemingly single process, requires the brain to perform several functions at once, from decoding words to analyzing the information obtained. Reading is made up of five different components, each of which must be mastered and aligned to create quality readers.To obtain the best results, each of the components must be introduced in a logical sequence and in a method that ensures the information is clear, focused and illustrative. This allows each principle to build upon the previous ones, thus procuring the proper alignment.
The first step in reading involves learning to recognize and identify the various sounds within words. Phonemic awareness focuses more on sounds than sights and reveals that words are made up of a collection of different sounds, called phonemes. Phonemic awareness is greatly benefited by nursery rhymes and songs which often serve as the introduction to rhyming sounds and phonemic patterns.
Phonics involves the association of letters and sounds, as well as the combination of those letters to create blends and words. Phonics also focuses on the relationship between written and spoken letters and words by exposing individuals to flashcards, worksheets and other materials bearing printed letters while reinforcing the sounds made by those letters.
There are two portions of vocabulary: spoken and written. Spoken vocabulary refers to words and terms that people use and are exposed to during their lifetime. Children, in particular, are very curious and quick to ask about words they don't understand. It is imperative that adults don't shy away from words they assume are too complex, but rather take the opportunity to use and explain the terms. Written vocabulary refers to the words that people can read and identify on their own. An individual's vocabulary, both spoken and written, should increase steadily throughout his lifetime.
A fluent reader is one who reads accurately and smoothly at a consistent speed. Fluency also encompasses proper expression, a trait that is often overlooked by beginning readers. As people become more comfortable in the first three reading components, their fluency should improve.
The entire purpose of reading is to absorb knowledge, whether it be to learn something new or to dive into a fictional account. If nothing is gained from the effort, there's no reason to read. Comprehension is the process of taking the information that was read and assimilating it into something useful. Comprehension involves both understanding and the application of that understanding. A person with good comprehensive skills probably won't be able to recite what they've read word for word, but he should be able to give an accurate account of the information.
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