2d: Acquiring Foundational Literacy Skills

As discussed in the previous section, Letterland is a comprehensive word work resource, but why do schools need a program like Letterland? The answer lies in the ease and manner in which students acquire literacy skills. Research conducted by Reid Lyon and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 1998 determined that in fact children’s journeys into the world of reading are different. As the graphic below indicates, only about 5% of children find the journey effortlessly successful. Approximately another 35% find learning to read relatively easy once exposed to formal instruction with a solid instructional emphasis. However, about 60% of US children find learning to read difficult. About 20% of these students will find reading one of the most difficult tasks they have to master throughout their academic career.

Adapted from “Overview of Reading and Literacy Initiatives”, Reid Lyon & NICHHD, 1998. 


Letterland’s explicit and systematic approach to foundational reading instruction meets the needs of struggling students, while at the same time engaging students for whom learning to read is relatively easy. Integrated into every lesson are small group activities for differentiated instruction as well as more intensive intervention support. This will be covered in more detail later in the course. 


Response Notebook

Look at the two students below who represent many of the kindergarteners who arrive on that first day of school. Look at the pie chart above. Where on the chart would you place Amelia and Brittany? Think about the young students you know. Which students are like Amelia? Which students are like Brittany? Do you have students who have more knowledge than Amelia and less than Brittany? Write your responses in your Response Notebook.

Amelia starts kindergarten knowing 26 letters and 20 letter sounds. She can write her first name neatly and is familiar with 5000 vocabulary words. 


Brittany starts kindergarten knowing only 2 letters and no letter sounds. She can only write the first letter of her name and is familiar with only 2000 words. 

If you want to learn more about how a child’s literacy journey impacts the instruction they require, download the expanded Journey to Reading chart below.

13-Journey to Reading with Letterland.pdf