Is my son really reading?

Q: My son is five years old. He appears to read books—Green Eggs & Ham, The Green Engine, Blue Mountain Mystery, Thomas the Tank Engine, anything Max and Ruby, and other books. How do I know if he's really reading or if he's just memorized the story? What age do kids start reading?

A: Most children learn to read—with comprehension—anywhere from 4 until about 7. Before that, they can recognize the letters—and even some words—but actual comprehension lags behind. This is a normal part of the learning-to-read process. Don't worry about his progress—at this point, his enthusiasm about books and reading is what counts. Of course if you're really curious, have him try to read a book he hasn't seen before, and see how he does. Try to make a game of it—no pressure, and lots of fun, is the way to boost reading and learning.

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