Reading approaches for picture books
These are building blocks for understanding story structure, vocabulary and sentences. Children learn which way round to hold a book; that we read from left to right, following the pictures in order and from the top of the page to the bottom. Children learn that the story links to the pictures and to use pictorial cues as their reading develops.
Picture books are really important because they enable children to discuss a story, and they can build their confidence when re-telling a story. Talking about the pictures is enjoyable, inspiring their imagination. Children can see the fun in reading right from the start.
Reading approaches for phonetically based books
Children learn that letters on a page represent the sounds in spoken words. They are taught the letter names and the letter sounds systematically. Reading books develops their phonetic knowledge and their knowledge of common exception words. At the same time, they will need to hear, share and discuss a wide range of high-quality books to develop a love of reading and broaden their vocabulary.
Children are increasingly taught that the words they read have meaning. For example children will learn to read a story rather than just learning to read a list of words. In this way, they also understand reading has a purpose. They are taught to check that the word that they have read fits in with what else they have read. Words and sentences make sense in the context of what they already know about the topic or story. New words are introduced and explained in the context of what they are reading. Eventually the meaning of unknown words can often be worked out from the context of a story or information text.
Children are taught inference skills which is the skill to seek meaning in what they have read. This can be very obvious and literal but can also be hidden. Children learn to infer the not so obvious meanings that are often hinted at in fiction and non-fiction texts. They are taught to find clues in the text and to add to those to what they already know. Children are taught to develop and apply this skill to reading, eventually having to back up their inferences with evidence from the text, so they can make sure it makes sense in the context.
Exciting books take a lot of inference. When children become experts at inferring, they become lost in a world that the book is creating. They cannot wait to turn the page, and they are reading for pleasure.