Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel

Suzannah Herrmann, Ph.D.

January 2009

Without fail, our nation is continuing to focus on remedying its chronic literacy troubles. Given that we've learned about the importance of children's early literacy predicting later reading success, as well as the fact that 5.5 million (of 21 million) children ages from birth to five years old are enrolled in some form of preschool, the time was right for the National Institute for Literacy in 2002 to convene a panel on literacy instruction as it relates to young children. Only now in 2009 Developing Early Literacy has come out, expanding work done by the 2000 National Reading Panel. It identifies teaching practices to effective promote children's literacy skills- some which are real common sense- such as teaching the alphabet and reading books. Despite the rigor and care taken to generate its findings, there are some notes some concerns- such as too much of an emphasis on teaching children a narrow set of skills. There are also concerns about how easily the report can be understood by practitioners. Fortunately, it's expected that user-friendly guides will be coming out to translate this research for teachers and parents, and this will be helpful to spread the word of this work quite reliably for years to come.

Note: This article was revised on February 5 to correct an editing error.

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