Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel

Suzannah Herrmann, Ph.D.

National Institute for Literacy and National Center for Family Literacy
2008

This report presents findings from the National Early Literacy
Panel, convened in 2002 to synthesize available research on effective
teaching methods and methods of parental support for literacy in
children under age five. It expands on the work of the 2000 National
Reading Panel to address four areas: skills in young children that
predict later literacy success; programs and instructional methods that
foster literacy skills; children's characteristics that facilitate or
inhibit those skills; and the effect of children's environments on those
skills. Six "precursor" skills in particular had significant impact on
later literacy if mastered between birth and kindergarten: knowledge of
the alphabet; phonological awareness (ability to distinguish between
sounds); rapid automatic naming (RAN) of random letters or digits
(ability to swiftly name a sequence of them); RAN of objects or colors;
ability to write isolated letters or own name on command; and
phonological memory (ability to remember spoken information for a short
period of time). Other areas like oral language (ability to produce or
comprehend spoken words) and reading readiness (defined as a combination
of alphabet knowledge, concepts of print, vocabulary, memory, and
phonological awareness) were not found to have a consistently predictive
effect on later literacy. This bulky and technical report is not itself
an easy read; but since it is chock full of helpful advice for
educators, we hope a user-friendly guide will be available soon.
Meanwhile, find it here.

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