This is a general outline of the milestones on the road to reading success. Keep in mind that kids develop at different paces and spend varying amounts of time at each stage. If you have concerns, talk to your child's doctor, teacher, or the reading specialist at school. Early intervention is key in helping kids who struggle to read. Parents and teachers can find resources for children as early as pre-kindergarten. Quality childcare centers, pre-kindergarten programs, and homes full of language and book reading can build an environment for reading milestones to happen. Infancy (Up to Age 1) Kids usually begin to: learn that gestures and sounds communicate meaning respond when spoken to direct their attention to a person or object understand 50 words or more reach for books and turn the pages with help respond to stories and pictures by vocalizing and patting the pictures Toddlers (Ages 1–3) Kids usually begin to: answer questions about and identify objects in books — such as "Where's the cow?" or "What does the cow say?" name familiar pictures use pointing to identify named objects pretend to read books finish sentences in books they know well scribble on paper know names of books and identify them by the picture on the cover turn pages of board books have a favorite book and request it to be read often Early Preschool (Age 3) Kids usually begin to: explore books independently listen to longer books that are read aloud retell a familiar story sing the alphabet song with prompting and cues make symbols that resemble writing recognize the first letter in their name learn that writing is different from drawing a picture imitate the action of reading a book aloud Late Preschool (Age 4) Kids usually begin to: recognize familiar signs and labels, especially on signs and containers recognize words that rhyme name some of the letters of the alphabet (a good goal to strive for is 15–18 uppercase letters) recognize the letters in their names write their names name beginning letters or sounds of words match some letters to their sounds develop awareness of syllables use familiar letters to try writing words understand that print is read from left to right, top to bottom retell stories that have been read to them Kindergarten (Age 5) Kids usually begin to: produce words that rhyme match some spoken and written words write some letters, numbers, and words recognize some familiar words in print predict what will happen next in a story identify initial, final, and medial (middle) sounds in short words identify and manipulate increasingly smaller sounds in speech understand concrete definitions of some words read simple words in isolation (the word with definition) and in context (using the word in a sentence) retell the main idea, identify details (who, what, when, where, why, how), and arrange story events in sequence First and Second Grade (Ages 6–7) Kids usually begin to: read familiar stories "sound out" or decode unfamiliar words use pictures and context to figure out unfamiliar words use some common punctuation and capitalization in writing self-correct when they make a mistake while reading aloud show comprehension of a story through drawings write by organizing details into a logical sequence with a beginning, middle, and end Second and Third Grade (Ages 7–8) Kids usually begin to: read longer books independently read aloud with proper emphasis and expression use context and pictures to help identify unfamiliar words understand the concept of paragraphs and begin to apply it in writing correctly use punctuation correctly spell many words write notes, like phone messages and email understand humor in text use new words, phrases, or figures of speech that they've heard revise their own writing to create and illustrate stories Fourth Through Eighth Grade (Ages 9–13) Kids usually begin to: explore and understand different kinds of texts, like biographies, poetry, and fiction understand and explore expository, narrative, and persuasive text read to extract specific information, such as from a science book understand relations between objects identify parts of speech and devices like similes and metaphors correctly identify major elements of stories, like time, place, plot, problem, and resolution read and write on a specific topic for fun, and understand what style is needed analyze texts for meaning Back to Articles Related Articles Raising a Summer Reader Kids' reading skills don't have to grow cold once school's out. Here are some ways to make reading a natural part of their summer fun. Read More School-Age Readers From kindergarten through third grade, kids' ability to read will grow by leaps and bounds. Although teachers provide lots of help, parents continue to play a role in a child's reading life. Read More Delayed Speech or Language Development Knowing what's "normal" and what's not in speech and language development can help you figure out if you should be concerned or if your child is right on schedule. Read More Helping Kids Enjoy Reading For many kids, reading doesn't come easily. But these simple steps can help them become eager readers. Read More Reading Resources Regardless of your child's age or reading level, almost every community has programs and resources that are helpful. Read More Everyday Reading Opportunities Finding time to read is important to developing literacy skills. And there are many easy and convenient ways to make reading a part of every day. Read More How to Pick a Great Book to Read If you find yourself overwhelmed when choosing a book, check out these 5 simple steps to picking a book you'll like. Read More Reading Books to Babies Reading aloud to your baby stimulates developing senses, and builds listening and memory skills that can help your baby grow up to be a reader. Read More Story Time for Preschoolers Reading aloud to your preschooler is a great way to encourage learning development and to help prepare your child for independent reading down the line. Read More Toddler Reading Time Reading to toddlers lays the foundation for their independent reading later on. Here are some tips. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.