I always knew reading to my kids was important, but this has opened my eyes to how important and how much.
Early reading stages
Children go through several developmental stages as they learn to read. Children learn and develop skills at different ages so these phases in literacy development should be viewed as a guide only and are not age related.
Early emergent readers
At this stage children may begin to write or scribble and separate scribble that represents writing from free flowing drawing. Early emergent readers will handle books, turning the pages and looking at pictures. They imitate things they see adult readers do, such as holding the book the right way up and turning the pages carefully. They often pretend to read by using the pictures and their memory to retell stories. Children take an interest in books and the writing they see in the world around them.
Children often read by using pictures or their memory of the story. An emergent reader will read word by word, matching spoken words to print to retell a simple story. At this stage children may use scribble with random letters and numbers. They will turn pages of a book with left to right directionality, choose favourite books, join in with books that are read aloud and memorise rhymes and predictable books. They will also begin to use initial consonants to write words e.g. d for dog.
Early readers may still read word by word and match print and voice. They will tell you what they think about the things they have read and why they think it. They can retell the text in sequence and some children display an increasing fluency of reading. At this stage children may begin to grasp concepts of words and can retell a simple story. They will begin to understand sentences and some punctuation and write in simple sentences. They will begin to write many high frequency words and may use repetitive sentences such as I like...
For more information on the developmental milestones of preschoolers which includes a section on communication and literacy go to Raising Children Network.