Breaking the reading code: Letter knowledge when children break the reading code the first year in school
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionNew Ideas in Psychology. 2019, 57 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.newideapsych.2019.100756
The aim of this study was to examine when children learn to read and how learning to read depends on a foundation of alphabetic knowledge. 356 children aged 5–6 years completed assessments of letter-sound knowledge, i.e. the names and sounds of uppercase and lowercase letters of the Norwegian alphabet. Each child was tested at the start, the middle and the end of the school year. The time that each child broke the reading code was also recorded. The results indicated that 11% of the children knew how to read before starting school and 27% of the children did not learn to read by the end of the first year. The remaining children typically knew 21 uppercase letter sounds before they were first able to read, and only a few (<5%) knew less than 11 uppercase letter sounds when they broke the reading code. The average of all four letter-scores at the time they broke the reading code was 19 �5 letters (mean �standard deviation). Although letter sound knowledge was associated with the ability to read, it was not sufficient for breaking the reading code. 40% of children who knew 23 letter sounds or more, enough to read more than 80% of the most common Norwegian words, and 15% of children who knew all 29 letter sounds still could not read. Based on these data, it seems reasonable to advocate learning letter- sound correspondences early in the first year of school to form the best possible basis for breaking the reading code.