Does early reading instruction help reading in the long-term? A review of empirical evidence

Sebastian Paul Suggate


Abstract. Widespread and extensive changes have seen early reading instruction become an educational target for preschool and kindergarten aged children. Surprisingly, empirical researchers and policy makers have by and large paid little attention to the effects that early reading instruction has on later reading development. In this critical review, I outline five main arguments for early reading and examine their logical and evidential basis. Then I present research that has compared groups of children over the long-term as a function of whether they received early formal reading instruction or not. I conclude, on the basis of the evidence and critique, that children do not show better long-term reading performance that is attributable to their having received earlier formal reading instruction.

Keywords: Early reading; reading development; early childhood; long term; reading; language

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