Reading readiness has been defined as the point at which a person is ready to learn to read and the time during which a person transitions from being a non-reader into a reader. Other terms for reading readiness include early literacy and emergent reading.

Children begin to learn pre-reading skills at birth while they listen to the speech around them. In order to learn to read, a child must first have knowledge of the oral language. According to the Ontario Government (2003), the acquisition of language is natural, but the process of learning to read is not – reading must be taught. This belief contradicts basic language philosophy, which states that children learn to read while they learn to speak. The Ontario Government (2003) also believes that reading is the foundation for success, and that those children who struggle with reading in grades 1-3 are at a disadvantage in terms of academic success, compared to those children who are not struggling.

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Because a child’s early experience with literacy-related activities is highly correlated to the child’s success with reading, it is important to consider a child’s developmental level when choosing appropriate activities and goals. Early and enjoyable pre-reading experiences set the stage for a child’s desire to learn. By participating in developmentally-appropriate activities (activities that are fun and challenging, but not frustrating), the child gains knowledge that will serve as the foundation for further learning as he or she enters the s