Building Blocks of Reading Instruction

Reading is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols to construct meaning. Proficient readers not only comprehend what they read, but also read fluently and have a strong motivation to read. Thus, the goals of reading instruction are comprehension, fluency, and motivation [1].

Comprehensive reading instruction teaches the child to use a variety of skills to decode, read fluently, and understand the text. No single skill in this complex interaction is sufficient on its own, and the teacher must be careful not to overemphasize one skill at the expense of others. It is important that teachers understand the interdependent nature of the skills being taught, and that competent readers integrate all sources of information as they engage in reading meaningful texts [2].

In order to support students in becoming proficient readers, educators must provide effective instruction of all components of reading. The following sections of the module will cover print awareness, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The four key instructional approaches – read-alouds, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading – will be presented through specific building blocks; however, they are effective strategies for developing a wide variety reading skills.

Blocks with the letters A, B, and C

Where applicable, we will distinguish between effective practices at the different grade levels within the primary division. However, students will arrive with varying levels of pre-requisite skills, and educators must be prepared to support all students as they develop their skills in each area. This is especially true for students with LDs. These students, although they may present at grade level in certain aspects of reading, may not have consolidated all of the foundational skills taught in their previous school years.


[1]Ontario Ministry of Education, 2003b

[2] Ontario Ministry of Education, 2003a