Emergent Readers Behavior Checklist

Providing a Strong Foundation for Future Reading Success

Reading aloud builds reading behavior
Reading aloud builds reading. Websterlearning

Those early or struggling readers are said to have “emergent” skills.  Flying Start to Literacy places a step before emergent, called “early emergent.”  Those early emergent readers are students who are just starting to approach print and text.  The emergent readers brings some skills, even if fairly new, with them.  This level, like all will start with:

  • Demonstrate use of strategies from previous levels.

    This includes seeing patterns, knowing initial letter sounds and using pictures to understand the text.  At the emergent level the students will start to see more sight vocabulary and apply word patterns to prediction.

    Reading for Meaning

    This is, of course, the true end of the behaviors we call reading:  making meaning.  These skills are up front, and they include

    • Monitor their reading for what makes sense, sounds right and looks right.

    Whenever working with children and text, it is critical that you drive them back again and again to the question:  Did that make sense?   Does that sound right?  Even our most disabled students should be able to recognize the sense of a sentence.  If they are struggling with a text, it may simply be that it is too difficult, and they need text they can make sense out of.

    Using Text Features to Find Meaning

    • Use pictures to predict and confirm reading.
    • Recognize and use repetitive patterns in text.
    • Notice when what they read does not match the text (e.g. stops, pauses, rereads.)

    Pictures continue to be significant in support student “meaning making.”  Students who check the initial letters of an unknown word and then look at the picture are using skills they have acquired, associating the illustrations with the text.

      The more often they use pictures to confirm or predict their reading, the more opportunities they have to recognize the related words in context, the stronger their sight vocabulary will be.

    Recognizing patterns is also a skill that can be transferred.  Many popular books written for emerging readers (The Dr. Seuss I can Read books, for example) will use repetitive patterns to help the readers experience reading success as they assign meaning to the text.  Books like use repetitive patterns AND rhyming words, so students can quickly apply what they know about word families.

    The third of this set of skills is not only a great reading behavior, it is a great learning behavior.  Students who learn to check their own progress for success will be able to continually increase their circle of skills, whether they are math or reading skills.  Once they have been assured that taking risks and then self checking is a good way to go, they will be able to use this skill set repeatedly in new situations, even learning to use self-checking to learn foreign language (or for English Language Learners, learn to expand their English skills.) 

    These behaviors show students drawing on what they know about text and applying it in new situations.

    The Text and Meaning:

    These behaviors provide the teacher and the student with a sense of whether they comprehend the text.  Can they retell the story?  Can they remember and locate important information from informational text?  That second behavior is pivotal for students as the enter 4th grade and the expectation becomes that they will be using text to learn about content subjects, such as science, geography and even math.

    • Retell the story.
    • Retell information from informational text.

    Acquiring Oral Reading Skills.

    These behaviors are behaviors they will need to continue to exhibit. Even though we often move away from having students read orally as they build fluent skills, their ability to use inflection and tone to convey the author’s message indicates their ability to apply higher level thinking skills to texts, the ability to draw inferences and the ability to compare and contrast.

    • Read fluently on repeated reads.
    • Use their increasing bank of high frequency words when they read.

    Phonics and Phonemic Awareness Skills

    Once again, these behaviors are not the primary or principal behaviors we address in these reading behaviors checklists.  They are behaviors we can explicitly teach, but they need to be drawn back into reading, into real and authentic text, in order for the behaviors to be imbedded in students everyday practice.

    • Identify high frequency words in a variety of contexts.
    • Use letters (initial and final) to figure out words.

    A free printable pdf of The Emerging Reader Behaviors Checklist (pdf.)