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Reading Benchmarks

Even as babies, children build reading skills that set the foundation for learning to read. Here’s a list of reading milestones by age. Keep in mind that kids develop reading skills at their own pace, so they may not be on this exact timetable.

Keep in mind that some schools focus on different skills in different grades. Look at how your child reacts to reading, too. For example, kids who have trouble reading might get anxious when they have to read.

If you’re concerned about your child’s reading skills, contact our OT Staff to schedule a free consultation with you and your child to develop a success-oriented therapy program.

Babies (ages 0–12 months)

  • Begin to reach for soft-covered books or board books
  • Look at and touch the pictures in books
  • Respond to a storybook by cooing or making sounds
  • Help turn pages

Toddlers (ages 1–2 years)

  • Look at pictures and name familiar items, like dog, cup, and baby
  • Answer questions about what they see in books
  • Recognize the covers of favorite books
  • Recite the words to favorite books
  • Start pretending to read by turning the pages and making up stories

Preschoolers (ages 3–4 years)

  • Know the correct way to hold and handle a book
  • Understand that words are read from left to right and pages are read from top to bottom
  • Start noticing words that rhyme
  • Retell stories
  • Recognize about half the letters of the alphabet
  • Start matching letter sounds to letters (like knowing b makes a /b/ sound)
  • May start to recognize their name in print and other often-seen words, like those on signs and logos

Kindergartners (age 5 years)

  • Match each letter to the sound it represents
  • Identify the beginning, middle, and ending sounds in spoken words like dog or sit
  • Say new words by changing the beginning sound, like changing rat to sat
  • Start matching words they hear to words they see on the page
  • Sound out simple words
  • Start to recognize some words by sight without having to sound them out
  • Ask and answer who, what, where, when, why, and how questions about a story
  • Retell a story in order, using words or pictures
  • Predict what happens next in a story
  • Start reading or asking to be read books for information and for fun
  • Use story language during playtime or conversation (like “I can fly!” the dragon said. “I can fly!”)