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  • Writer's pictureM. Kovack

The Simple View of Reading

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

The Simple View of Reading (Gough & Tunmer, 1986) is a foundational framework that explains two formative strands of skills that lead to skilled reading:

1) Language/Listening Comprehension

2) Word Recognition

The Simple View of Reading is written as a formula:

Word Recognition x Language Comprehension = Reading Comprehension

Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre (2016, 29 January). Sir Jim Rose Dyslexia and the Simple View of Reading [Video]. Free webcast funded through the UK Department of Education through the Dyslexia SPLD Trust. Retrieved from

Since this framework was developed, over 100 studies have demonstrated its effectiveness (Kilpatrick, 2015). Ebert & Scott (2016) recently studied the usefulness of this framework and found it to be "a clinically useful model for capturing variation and explaining relationships among oral and written language in school-age children" (p. 147). If you place the above chart on top of Ebert & Scott's (2016) chart below, you can see it from another viewpoint. We have also gathered a great deal of neurobiological evidence to support this model.


In most schools, we are teaching children to read by using the "three-cueing system" (see blog on this) as a core strategy in beginning reading instruction. Unfortunately, the cognitive science about how we learn to read has not made its way into mainstream education (although that is changing rapidly), and the "three-cueing system" is not an effective approach for helping children recognize words. We now have reams of high-quality research that shed light on far more effective approaches to beginning reading instruction.

For an EXCELLENT series of articles that explain of The Simple View of Reading, I highly recommend joining The Reading League to receive their journal. It comes out three times per year.

Volume 1, Issue 2 is dedicated to The Simple View of Reading, and I could not put this journal down! It is so satisfying to read (I have only had it one week and it is so worn out, it looks like I have had it for years ;).


Ebert, K. D., & Scott, C. M. (2016). Bringing the simple view of reading to the clinic: Relationships between oral and written language skills in a clinical sample. Journal of Communication Disorders, 62, 147-160. doi:10.1016/j.jcomdis.2016.07.002

Gough, P. B., & Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7(1), 6-10. doi:10.1177/074193258600700104

Kilpatrick, D. A. (2015). Essentials of assessing, preventing, and overcoming reading difficulties. John Wiley & Sons.

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