Reading fluency is a precondition for reading comprehension. If the reader is not fluent he/she will struggle to put the words together in a sentence and make meaning of it. When short term memory is taken up by working out what the words are on the page, it can’t focus on what they mean.
So what is reading fluency? Reading fluency is:
- Reading accurately. If you are an inaccurate reader, you may read words incorrectly and this will affect your comprehension.
- Reading at a suitable speed: Too fast and you will skip words or read inaccurately. Too slow and you will have difficulty holding the sentence together to extract meaning.
- Reading with expression (prosody), e.g. reading in the voice when someone is speaking or reading is a spooky voice in a spooky text.
Reading fluency and comprehension develop in tandem. The more you read fluently, the more you can comprehend, the more you read fluently etc…
So what is the role of decodable texts in all this?
Decodable texts provide practice and consolidation of phonics and decoding skills. Decoding is the core skill that underlies reading accuracy. Once accuracy develops through repeated practice, the words begin to fly off the page. This is the point when automatic word recognition takes place. Now working memory can focus on the meaning of the words in the text and how they work together in the sentence or paragraph.
So, let’s start with phonics and get that embedded through decodable texts. Then the words start to fly off the page and reading takes off!
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