Developmental Reading Milestones

By Jess Corinne
March 25, 2022

As caregivers, it can be very challenging to ascertain exactly what goals your child needs to meet at any given age or grade. To help, we’ve compiled a list of the most common reading developmental milestones for elementary, middle, and high school learners to serve as a reference as you work your way through each phase of your learner’s academic journey.

Orthographic Processing

Orthographic processing is the brain’s ability to recognize and retrieve sight words and spelling patterns with automaticity. Instantly recalling sight words and spelling patterns does not always come easy for learners, especially those with weak working memory skills or in the emerging stages of reading development. Typically, learners are required to acquire at least 100 sight words per school year; we have attached the two more common word lists (Dolche and Frys) to reference below. Spelling expectations vary by school and district, but there are some resources that you can reference in our guide as well. To learn more on the sight words and spelling patterns your learner is expected to master, please contact us!

Sight Word Lists

Dolche

  1. Pre-Kindergarten
  2. Kindergarten
  3. 1st Grade
  4. 2nd Grade
  5. 3rd Grade

Frys

  1. Kindergarten
  2. 1st Grade
  3. 2nd Grade
  4. 3rd Grade
  5. 4th Grade
  6. 5th Grade
  7. 8th Grade
  8. 9th Grade
  9. 10th Grade
  10. 11th Grade

Spelling Resources

Spelling-Words-Well 

Spell Quiz

Spelling City

Contextual Reading 

Here is a list of the most common reading developmental milestones for you to reference as your child grows. Please note that language processing, expressive language (oral and written), critical thinking, and executive functioning skills that impact reading go beyond what is listed here, and will be covered in an upcoming blog. 

Reading Developmental Milestones

Age
Grade
Milestones
5-6KinderPair sounds to the symbol(s) they represent
Identify the beginning (initial), middle (medial), and ending (final) sounds in spoken words like cat or hip
Say new words by changing the beginning sound, like changing rat to sat
Start matching words they hear to words and images they see on the page
Sound out simple words (2-3 sounds like sit and pal)
Start to recognize a few words by sight instantly without having to sound them out (see our sight word lists above)
Ask and answer questions such as who, what, where, when, why, and how questions about a narrative
Retell a story in order, using words or pictures
Predict what happens next in a story
Start reading or asking to be read books for information and for fun
Make connections from stories to imaginative play
6-71st-2ndStart to learn basic spelling rules (see our spelling resources above)
Increase the number of words they recognize by sight
Start to read with more fluidity, even if still choppy
Use context clues to sound out and understand unfamiliar words
Go back and re-read a word or sentence that doesn’t makes sense (self-monitoring)
Connect what they’re reading to personal experiences, other books they’ve read, and world events
8-103rd-5thIn third grade, start to move from learning to read to reading to learn
Accurately read words with two or more syllables
Continue to increase the number of words they recognize by sight
Learn about affixes (prefixes and suffixes) and root words like those in kindness, unkind.
Read for different purposes (for fun, to learn, to problem solve, etc.)
Explore different genres (fiction, nonfiction, mystery, humor, drama, etc.)
Describe the setting, characters, problem/solution, and plot of a story
Identify and summarize the sequence of events in a story
Identify the main idea and supporting details independently
Determine the main theme of a story and some minor themes
Make inferences by using context clues and by activating prior knowledge
Compare and contrast information from different texts
Refer to evidence when answering questions about it
Understand similes, metaphors, and other descriptive devices
11-176th-HSKeep expanding vocabulary and reading more complex texts
Analyze how characters develop, interact with each other, and advance the plot
Determine themes and analyze how they develop over the course of the text
Use evidence from the text to support analysis of the text
Identify imagery and symbolism in the text
Analyze, synthesize, and evaluate ideas from the text
Understand satire, sarcasm, irony, and understatement

Dolche

Pre-Kindergarten

PRE-KINDERGARTEN
a and away
big blue can
come down find
for funny go
help here I
in is it
jump little look
make me my
not one play
red run said
see the three
to two up
we where yellow
you

Kindergarten

KINDERGARTEN
all am are
at ate be
black brown but
came did do
eat four get
good have he
into like must
new no now
on our out
please pretty ran
ride saw say
she so soon
that there they
this too under
want was well
went what white
who will with
yes

1st Grade

1ST GRADE
afteragainan
anyasask
bycouldevery
flyfromgive
goinghadhas
herhimhis
howjustknow
letlivemay
ofoldonce
openoverput
roundsomestop
takethankthem
thenthinkwalk
werewhen

2nd Grade

2ND GRADE
alwaysaroundbecause
beenbeforebest
bothbuycall
colddoesdon’t
fastfirstfive
foundgavegoes
greenitsmade
manyoffor
pullreadright
singsitsleep
telltheirthese
thoseuponus
useverywash
whichwhywish
workwouldwrite
your

3rd Grade

3RD GRADE
aboutbetterbring
carrycleancut
donedrawdrink
eightfallfar
fullgotgrow
holdhothurt
ifkeepkind
laughlightlong
muchmyselfnever
onlyownpick
sevenshallshow
sixsmallstart
tentodaytogether
trywarm

3RD GRADE – NOUNS
applebabyback
ballbearbed
bellbirdbirthday
boatboxboy
breadbrothercake
carcatchair
chickenchildrenChristmas
coatcorncow
daydogdoll
doorduckegg
eyefarmfarmer
fatherfeetfire
fishfloorflower
gamegardengirl
goodbyegrassground
handheadhill
homehorsehouse
kittylegletter
manmenmilk
moneymorningmother
namenestnight
paperpartypicture
pigrabbitrain
ringrobinSanta Claus
schoolseedsheep
shoesistersnow
songsquirrelstick
streetsuntable
thingtimetop
toytreewatch
waterwaywind
windowwood

Frys

Kindergarten

KINDERGARTEN: 1ST 100 WORDS
aaboutall
anandare
asatbe
beenbutby
calledcancome
coulddaydid
dodowneach
findfirstfor
fromgetgo
hadhashave
heherhim
hishowI
ifininto
isitlike
longlookmade
makemanymay
moremyno
notnownumber
ofoilon
oneorother
outpartpeople
saidseeshe
sitsosome
thanthatthe
theirthemthen
therethesethey
thistimeto
twoupuse
waswaterway
wewerewhat
whenwhichwho
willwithwords
wouldwriteyou
your

1st Grade

1ST GRADE: 2ND 100 WORDS
afteragainair
alsoAmericaanimal
anotheranswerany
aroundaskaway
backbecausebefore
bigboycame
changedifferentdoes
endevenfollow
formfoundgive
goodgreathand
helpherehome
housejustkind
knowlandlarge
learnletterline
littleliveman
memeansmen
mostmothermove
muchmustname
neednewoff
oldonlyour
overpagepicture
placeplaypoint
putreadright
samesaysentence
setshouldshow
smallsoundspell
stillstudysuch
taketellthings
thinkthreethrough
tootryturn
usverywant
wellwentwhere
whyworkworld
years

2nd Grade

2ND GRADE: 3RD 100 WORDS
aboveaddalmost
alongalwaysbegan
beginbeingbelow
betweenbookboth
carcarrychildren
cityclosecountry
cutdon’tearth
eatenoughevery
exampleeyesface
familyfarfather
feetfewfood
fourgirlgot
groupgrowhard
headhearhigh
ideaimportantIndian
it’skeeplast
lateleaveleft
letlifelight
listmightmile
missmountainsnear
nevernextnight
oftenonceopen
ownpaperplant
realriverrun
sawschoolsea
secondseemside
somethingsometimessong
soonstartstate
stopstorytalk
thosethoughttogether
tooktreeunder
untilwalkwatch
whilewhitewithout
young

3rd Grade

3RD GRADE: 4TH 100 WORDS
acrossagainstarea
becomebestbetter
birdsblackbody
certaincoldcolor
completecoveredcried
didn’tdogdoor
drawduringearly
easyeverfall
farmfastfield
figurefirefish
fivefriendsground
happenedheardhimself
holdhorsehours
howeverhundredI’ll
kingknewlisten
lowmapmark
measuremoneymorning
musicnorthnotice
numeralorderpassed
patternpieceplan
problemproductspulled
questionsreachedred
rememberrockroom
seenseveralship
shortsincesing
slowlysouthspace
standstepsun
suretabletoday
toldtoptoward
towntraveltrue
unituponusually
voicevowelwar
waveswholewind
wood

4th Grade

4TH GRADE: 5TH 100 WORDS
ableagoam
amongballbase
becamebehindboat
boxbringbrought
buildingbuiltcannot
carefullycheckcircle
classclearcommon
containcorrectcourse
darkdecideddeep
donedryEnglish
equationexplainfact
feelfilledfinally
fineflyforce
frontfullgame
gavegovernmentgreen
halfheatheavy
hotinchesinclude
insideislandknown
languagelessmachine
materialminutesnote
nothingnounobject
oceanohpair
personplanepower
producequicklyran
restroadround
rulescientistsshape
shownsixsize
specialstarsstay
stoodstreetstrong
surfacesystemten
thoughthousandsunderstand
verbwaitwarm
weekwheelsyes
yet

5th Grade

5TH GRADE: 6TH 100 WORDS
anythingarmsbeautiful
believebesidebill
bluebrothercan’t
causecellscenter
clothesdancedescribe
developeddifferencedirection
discovereddistancedivided
drivedropedge
eggsenergyEurope
exercisefarmersfelt
finishedflowersforest
generalgonegrass
happyheartheld
instrumentsinterestjob
keptlaylegs
lengthlovemain
mattermeetmembers
millionmindmonths
moonpaintparagraph
pastperhapspicked
presentprobablyrace
rainraisedready
reasonrecordregion
representreturnroot
satshallsign
simplesitesky
softsquarestore
subjectsuddenlysum
summersyllablesteacher
testthirdtrain
wallweatherwest
whetherwidewild
windowwinterwish
written

8th Grade

8TH GRADE: 7TH 100 WORDS
actAfricaage
alreadyalthoughamount
angleappearbaby
bearbeatbed
bottombrightbroken
buildbuycare
casecatcentury
consonantcopycouldn’t
countcrossdictionary
dieddresseither
everyoneeverythingexactly
factorsfightfingers
floorfractionfree
Frenchgoldhair
hillholehope
iceinsteadiron
jumpedkilledlake
laughedleadlet’s
lotmelodymetal
methodmiddlemilk
momentnationnatural
outsideperphrase
poorpossiblepounds
pushedquietquite
remainresultride
rolledsailscale
sectionsleepsmiled
snowsoilsolve
someonesonspeak
speedspringstone
surprisetalltemperature
themselvestinytrip
typevillagewithin
wonder

9th Grade

9TH GRADE: 8TH 100 WORDS
aloneartbad
bankbitbreak
brownburningbusiness
captaincatchcaught
centschildchoose
cleanclimbedcloud
coastcontinuedcontrol
coolcostdecimal
desertdesigndirect
drawingearseast
elseengineEngland
equalexperimentexpress
feelingfellflow
footgardengas
glassGodgrew
historyhumanhunting
increaseinformationitself
joinedkeylady
lawleastlost
maybemouthparty
payperiodplains
pleasepracticepresident
receivedreportring
riserowsave
seedssentseparate
serveshoutedsingle
skinstatementstick
straightstrangestudents
supposesymbolsteam
touchtroubleuncle
valleyvisitwear
whosewirewoman
wroteyardyou’re
yourself

10th Grade

10TH GRADE: 9TH 100 WORDS
additionarmybell
belongblockblood
blowboardbones
branchescattlechief
comparecompoundconsider
cookcornercrops
crowdcurrentdoctor
dollarseightelectric
elementsenjoyentered
exceptexcitingexpect
famousfitflat
fruitfunguess
hathitindicate
industryinsectsinteresting
Japaneselielifted
loudmajormall
meatminemodern
movementnecessaryobserve
parkparticularplanets
poempoleposition
processpropertyprovide
ratherrhythmrich
safesandscience
sellsendsense
sevensharpshoulder
sightsilentsoldiers
spotspreadstream
stringsuggestedsupply
swimtermsthick
thinthustied
tonetradetube
valuewashwasn’t
weightwifewings
won’t

11th Grade

11TH GRADE: 10TH 100 WORDS
actionactuallyadjective
afraidagreedahead
allowapplearrived
bornboughtBritish
capitalchancechart
churchcolumncompany
conditionscorncotton
cowscreatedead
dealdeathdetails
determinedifficultdivision
doesn’teffectentire
especiallyeveningexperience
factoriesfairfear
figforwardFrance
freshGreekgun
hoehugeisn’t
ledlevellocated
marchmatchmolecules
northernnoseoffice
oppositeoxygenplural
preparedprettyprinted
radiorepeatedrope
rosescoreseat
settledshoesshop
similarsirsister
smellsolutionsouthern
steelstretchedsubstances
suffixsugartools
totaltracktriangle
truckunderlinevarious
viewWashingtonwe’ll
westernwinwomen
workerswouldn’twrong
yellow