chapter  35
20 Pages

Knowledge About Letters as a Foundation for Reading and Spelling

Children need to possess a number of skills in order to learn to read and write. One important skill is phonological awareness. A child who can divide the spoken words “bat” and “bug” into smaller units and who knows that the two words start with the same sound can understand why both words are written with three letters and why the first letter is the same in both. Indeed, a child’s level of phonological awareness at school entry is a good predictor of that child’s success in learning to read (e.g., Share, Jorm, Maclean, & Matthews, 1984; for a review see Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Another skill that is important for literacy is knowledge about letters. Even if a child can segment a complex spoken syllable such as “blast” into its individual sounds or phonemes, the child will not be able to write the word unless he or she knows that

/b/ is typically symbolized as b, /l/ as l, and so on. Children’s knowledge about letters and the sounds they represent is, not surprisingly, another good predictor of success in learning to read and spell (e.g., McBride-Chang, 1999; Share et al., 1984; Snow et al., 1998).