Blogger Early & Family Literacy committee

Every Child Ready to Read and the Science of Reading

The “Science of Reading,” a phonics based approach to teaching reading based on cognitive science has become the latest buzzword in literacy instruction. The “Science of Reading” refers to over 50 years of interdisciplinary research supporting what works best in reading instruction. It’s most helpful in assessing how children learn to read and write, why some have difficulty, and how to intervene. The theories, studies, and frameworks within the SOR can provide a basis for reading instruction, but it is not a curriculum or a reading program. As the name suggests, it is science and it will evolve as research unfolds.

From the Sold a Story podcast to reporting in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and beyond, the way that we think about teaching reading is changing. School districts around the country are abandoning “Balanced Literacy” and “Cueing” methodologies in favor of phonics-centered approaches. 

With that changing tide, we wondered what are the questions that parents and caregivers are asking and the resources they might be looking for. And children’s librarians have one big question – What does the science of reading mean for early literacy practices? Does it mean we should be abandoning the five practices of Every Child Ready to Read, in favor of other foundational strategies? 

The short answer is no! Every Child Read to Read is rooted in the science of reading. Much of the ECRR framework was developed using the findings from the studies cited in the National Early Literacy Panel. When ECRR moved from the six early literacy skills originally focused on (print motivation, print awareness, phonological awareness, vocabulary, letter knowledge, and narrative skills) to encouraging the “practices” (reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing) some of the connections to this research were a bit more obscured – but the practices remain research based! And other research points to the need for children to develop background knowledge and strong oral language skills, essential for building the foundation strong readers need. 

Over the next few months, the Early and Family Literacy Committee will write about one of the ECRR early literacy practices and discuss the science of reading research that supports the development of that practice and the skills it engenders. But for right now, we want to know, what questions YOU have about early literacy and the science of reading? Share them below! We will do our best to answer them! And make sure you take a look at Tess Prendergast’s ALSC Blog Post, “The Science of Reading: A Primer for Children’s Library Staff.”

Today’s blog post was written by Macy David, children’s librarian, Brookline Village at The Public Library of Brookline in Brookline, MA and Rachel Payne, coordinator, early childhood services at Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn, NY, on behalf of the ALSC Early and Family Literacy Committee. Macy can be reached at and Rachel can be reached at

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