The Importance of Reading Fluency

June 7, 2009 by Karianne Wilkins  
Filed under Reading, Recent Articles

What is reading fluency and why is it important?  Reading fluency is comprised of the rate, accuracy, and prosody you use while reading.  Reading fluency is important because the ability to read efficiently, accurately, and with appropriate expression and meaning allow for what is read to be comprehended.

Reading rate just means the speed, or how quickly, you are able to read text.  The rate you are able to read at depends upon your ability to automatically decode words on the page.  If you are a good reader you are able to look at the letters and sounds that form a word and quickly put them together to read the word.  If you struggle with reading you take more time to sound out each letter in a word and then to blend the sounds together in order to read the word.  And when you have to do this for every word in a sentence, it is very easy to forget the words you sounded out at the beginning of a sentence.  For example, let’s say this is the sentence you are reading from a book: “The cat sat on a large mat.”  It makes a big difference if you are able to read this sentence in 5 seconds as compared to taking 2 minutes to read it.  This is why reading rate can greatly affect reading comprehension, and why reading needs to become automatic in order to become a good reader.

Reading accuracy means how accurately, or correctly, you are able to read text.  It is important that you are reading the words on a page correctly.  Otherwise it makes no difference how quickly you are able to read because the meaning of what you have read is wrong.  For example, let’s say this is the sentence you are reading from a book: “The frog jumped over the log.”  And then let’s say you did not read it accurately, and this is what you read instead: “The frig jumped over the dog.”  As you can see, the meaning of what you just read was completely different than the sentence in the book and does not make any sense.  Reading accuracy is just as important as reading rate in becoming a good reader and being able to obtain meaning from what you have read.

Reading prosody means the ability to read with expression and proper phrasing while reading text.  Prosody is what makes you sound natural while reading, and helps the words you are reading convey meaning.  For example, let’s say this is the sentence you are reading from a book: “Mom, look over there!  It’s a snake!” And this is how you read it aloud instead: “Mom look over there it’s a snake.”  As you can see, the excitement or fear that the original sentence should convey was lost in the reading.  It not only sounds boring, but comprehension of what has just occurred may be missed because it was not read with correct prosody.

Stay tuned for my next post, which will discuss how to test and then improve reading fluency.

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