How Children Learn to Read and Why they Fail. From Annals of Dyslexia, vol 46.
The present article considers the contrast between conceptions of reading as a natural and as an unnatural act, relying on the simple view of reading as a theoretical framework (Gough and Tunmer 1986). According to the simple view, reading comprehension is a product of both listening comprehension and decoding. Here it is argued that the comprehension aspect of reading depends on those same--natural--forces that govern acquisition of spoken language, whereas decoding depends on explicit tutelage, with little evidence that children will induce the cipher from simple exposure to written words and their pronunciations (sight-word instruction). Rejecting both sight-word and phonics instruction as inadequate in and of themselves, evidence is reviewed suggesting that successful readers require explicit awareness of the phonological structure of spoken words, which can and should be taught in kindergarten, prior to formal reading instruction. Beyond this point, reading success depends on a modicum of phonics instruction together with extensive practice with reading itself.