"Starting [to read] early provides the greatest opportunity for children’s success.” 

— Timothy Shanahan, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Illinois—Chicago and former director of reading for Chicago Public Schools

I believe that research can help us to learn more about the world around us. Here are what some experts have said in response to some of the questions that parents might have about children and reading.

When do kids learn to read?

Experts say that most children learn to read by age 6 or 7, meaning first or second grade, and that some learn much earlier. However, a head start on reading doesn’t guarantee a child will stay ahead as they progress through school. Abilities tend to even out in later grades.

“Some children are ready to learn to read at age 3, and some take much longer,” AnnMarie Sossong, a reading specialist at Ocala Preparatory Academy in Florida, wrote in an email. “I have seen both, and by age 12 or 13, they are reading at the same level, which seems counter-intuitive, but it is not. When they are ready, they are ready, and everything clicks.”

U.S. Department of Education reading programs often say children should learn to read by age 8, or third grade, because learning to read transitions into reading to learn other subjects soon thereafter.

Source: US News & World Report. Rosenkrantz, 2021.

How does toddlers' behavior differ when reading paper vs. electronic books?

According to one study involving more than 100 children between the ages of about 17 and 27 months, children seemed to respond more positively to electronic books compared to print books. 

"We expected overall engagement and positive affect with the electronic books to be higher than with print. Indeed, children paid more attention, displayed more positive affect, and made themselves more available when reading the electronic than the traditional print versions of the books."

Source: Frontiers in Psychology. Strouse & Ganea, 2017.