Capilano Elementary
North Vancouver School District
Reading is Foundational

​ Reading is foundational to literacy success, and teachers and parents can work together to help children at Capilano successfully progress from pre-readers to fluent readers. The core understandings below are taken from North Vancouver School District’s Reading 44: A Core Reading Framework.

Core Understandings About Learning to Read:

  • Reading is a construction of meaning from written text.  It is an active, cognitive and affective process that involves complex thinking.
  • Students need to be able to use semantic cues (background knowledge), syntactic cues (knowledge of language patterns) and graphophonic cues (knowledge of letters and sounds) in a coordinated and fluent manner to access meaning from print.
  • Students need to apply a wide range of reading strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate text.
  • Motivation and engagement in the reading task are essential for success.
  • Reading and writing are interconnected.
  • Background knowledge and prior experience are critical to the reading process.
  • Social interaction is essential in learning to read: thinking and talking promote students’ understanding.
  • Students’ background knowledge of their first language facilitates the development of competency in reading.
  • Literacy learning occurs both at home and at school and the connections between them enhance student learning.

Literacy Stages

Early Literacy Skills Beginning Readers Need:

(from Developing Early Literacy, National Reading Panel, NIH Publication, 2008) 
Phonemic Awareness: Knowing that spoken words are made up of smaller parts called phonemes. Teaching phonemic awareness gives children a basic foundation that helps them learn to read and spell. 
Alphabet Knowledge: Knowing the names and sounds of letters.
Rapid Naming of Letters/Digits: The ability to rapidly name random sequences of letters/digits.
Rapid Naming of Objects/Colours: The ability to rapidly name random sequences of pictures of objects/colours.
Phonological Memory: The ability to remember spoken information for a short period of time.
Writing/Writing Own Name: Ability to write letters in isolation or write own name.

Developing Readers Learn to Read Fluently by Using...

(for full article and references: Paris, Scott, Developing Comprehension Skills, University of Michigan, ConnectEd,

Conceptual Knowledge: Children need familiarity with the topics they read and some understanding of the main concepts in narrative and expository texts.
Language Skills: Effective oral language skills, both expressive and receptive, predict later reading comprehension.  For example, children with good vocabulary skills who understand many words in text have better reading comprehension (Dickinson & Tabors, 2001).
Text Features: Beginning readers need to know how titles, pictures, captions, and headings relate to the meaning of text.  They develop concepts about print, genres, and text structures that help them construct meaning from different types of text (Duke, 2004).
Strategies: Comprehending text requires readers to use a variety of strategies such as making and checking predictions, asking and answering questions, looking back in text to monitor understanding, and occasionally stopping to paraphrase or summarize the important information (Block & Pressley, 2002).  Students need to know what strategies to use, how to apply them, and why they are useful in order to become self-regulated learners (Paris, Waslk, & Turner, 1991).
Fluent Decoding: Comprehension is difficult when children focus all their energy and cognitive resources on saying the words correctly.  Comprehension is easier when decoding (reading words) is automatic so young readers must learn to recognize words quickly and accurately (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003).

Fluent Readers Learn to...

  • Read expressively
  • Retell the story
  • Locate and discuss main idea
  • Identify supporting facts and details
  • Relate to characters
  • Relate personal experiences to a story
  • Reflect on what they have read
Helpful links:​​

When reading with your child...

(From North Vancouver School District’s Reading 44: A Core Reading Framework)


  • Pause to allow child to decipher the word
  • Prompt by offering a portion of the word
  • Praise for efforts being made

Read Reflectively

  • Link background knowledge with text
  • Pause for discussion of language, content, vocabulary or characters
  • Predict what will happen
  • Reflect

To Figure Out Unknown Words:

  • Use picture clues
  • Use sight words
  • Sound it out
  • Look for little words inside the big word
  • Use context clues
  • Read past the unknown word and make a logical guess
  • Slow down
  • Reread the part that doesn’t make sense
  • Ask for help 

A few more suggestions:

  • Help your children select “just right” books using the “Five Finger Rule” (If your child comes across 5 words s/he does not know in the first 100 words of a text, it is beyond his/her level.)
  • Continue to read to and with your children, even as they get older – your modeling will inspire them to become stronger readers
  • Help your children read for an increasing amount of time or number of books
  • Encourage your children to select and read a variety of books, including fiction and non-fiction, and discuss how fiction and non-fiction are different
  • Talk with your children about what they read

Please peruse the links below to become familiar with the stages your children will go through as they learn to read.  The sites also provide more detailed information and tips for helping your child become a fluent and confident reader:

Websites offering free reading support activities for children: (Sight Words)

Fee Required:

Vist our WEB links for STUDENTS ​section of the website for more ways to engage your child in literacy.​