• M. Kovack

Cognitive Roots of Learning to Read

Updated: Mar 1

Two major capacities impact our ability to read:

1) Our capacity to understand spoken language; and

2) Our capacity to recognize words in print.

These capacities impact one another. So when children come to school having had many interesting conversations at home, having experiencedd lots of high quality children's literature read alouds, and having been exposed to a large vocabulary, they have a better chance of developing strong language comprehension skills, which then impacts their ability to understand what they read later on.

And when children come to school having had experiences with rhyming, clapping out syllables, listening for first sounds in words, and how these sounds map onto print with letters, these children have a better chance at developing strong word recognition skills.

When one of these systems is weak, however (e.g., children with weak word recognition skills are usually described as having dyslexia, which has to do with the way their brain is structured and functions while reading), it impacts their overall reading comprehension. When both systems are strong, reading comprehension will be strong as well.


Tunmer, W. E., & Hoover, W. A. (2019). The cognitive foundations of learning to read: A framework for preventing and remediating reading difficulties. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 24(1), 75-93. doi:10.1080/19404158.2019.1614081

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