Let’s Meet Alex

Let’s imagine young Alex. Alex is 5 years old and just entering kindergarten. Her brain has reached the point where she is ready to learn how to read. She’s already excited about books. She runs to the bookshelf to look through the selection, pulling out her favorite books. Her parents read these to her over and over again. She loves books with rhymes, like Dr. Seuss. She thinks it’s fun to shuffle the sounds of the words to make funny new words that rhyme. Even though she still can’t read the words by herself she recognizes letters that she’s heard her mom point out and pronounce repeatedly. She is very much aware of the process. Her eye gaze moves from left to right, leaving just the right amount of time to finish scanning each page before turning to the next. She’s watched her dad perform this ritual every morning with the newspaper or his tablet over breakfast. He lets her sit in his lap and admire the pictures and thousands of letters while he reads. Alex sees that her parents love to read and knows the power it presents to tell amazing stories. Already she can tell that those little symbols on the paper are at the heart of it. In fact, she is already practicing the motions of writing the letters herself. Alex writes her name in crayons with the help of her mom and preschool teachers. Her parents have created an important foundation. They have built a strong base that will help Alex excel during formal lessons at school. Alex’s parents have helped her develop an understanding of the structure of written words. This is called print knowledge, which is an important precursor to skilled reading.

  • Auditory
    related to hearing
    the inherited biological ‘recipe’ for appearance and other individual characteristics
    the ability to read and write
    cells located in the brain and throughout the body that are specialized to communicate messages
    the smallest unit of speech (a sound)
    Phoneme “play”
    manipulating sounds that make up words
    Phonological awareness
    the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken language
    Primary visual cortex
    an area in the brain responsible for interpreting visual information
    neural cells at the back of the eye that are sensitive to light
    Skilled reader
    a reader who is able to focus on comprehension, rather than on sounding out words
    Visual word form area
    the area of the brain responsible for recognizing words during reading