Report of the 

National Reading Panel 

In 2000, the NRP published a report titled Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction.  20 Years later, the findings of this panel remain significant and unrefuted. It is a dense report, but one every teacher of reading should be familiar with.  The report identified 5 essential components for the effective teaching  of reading: Phonological/Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension, commonly known as "The Big Five.Click the image to the left to read the full report.  

The September/October issue of The Reading League Journal celebrated the 20th anniversary of the NRP and featured updates on all subgroup reports. 

R.I.S.E. Arkansas created the above infographic to illustrate the what, why, and how of the five components of reading.

The Five Components of Reading

Phonological/Phoneme Awareness

Phonological Awareness is an umbrella term and refers to the ability to hear, recognize and manipulate the sound structure of oral language.  It involves working with the sounds of language at the word, syllable, and phoneme level and can be done.  Phonemic awareness refers to the ability to focus on and manipulate phonemes in spoken words. It is the most sophisticated skill in phonological awareness and focuses solely on the phoneme level of language.  The phoneme level is most productive for reading and spelling.


Phonics, an essential part of the process for beginning readers, involves learning the alphabetic system, the letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns, and learning how to apply this knowledge in their reading.  It is the understanding that there is a predictable relationship between the sounds of spoken language and the letters and spellings that represent those sounds in written language. 


The NRP defined fluency as "the ability to read a text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression."  In the September/October 2020 issue of The Reading League Journal, Jan Hasbrouck wrote "Given the essential role of fluency is to support comprehension, accuracy should be seen as 'first, foremost, and forever the foundation of fluency' (Hasbrouck & Glaser, 2019, p12).

"Fluency is the result of having a large number of words you can read by sight – effortlessly.  A sight word is a word that is instantly and effortlessly recalled from memory, regardless of whether it is phonically regular or irregular" (David Kilpatrick, Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties, pages 83, 121-125).

Automaticity is the link from word study to fluency. Prosody is the link from fluency to comprehension (A Conversation with Timothy Rasinski, Science of Reading: The Podcast, November 26, 2019).


Comprehension is the understanding and interpretation of what is read. To be able to accurately understand written material, children need to be able to (1) decode what they read; (2) make connections between what they read and what they already know; and (3) think deeply about what they have read. - Reading Rockets

Comprehension Training Videos

Middle Tennessee State University website includes training videos from the archives of training provided by the Tennessee Center for Dyslexia. These videos focus on the topics related to comprehension. The first video is to the left.  Follow the link below to access the rest.

"The importance of vocabulary knowledge has long been recognized in the development of reading skills. There are two types of vocabulary—oral and print. A reader who encounters a strange word in print can decode the word to speech. If it is in the reader's oral vocabulary, the reader will be able to understand it. If the word is not in the reader's oral vocabulary, the reader will have to determine the meaning by other means, if possible. Consequently, the larger the reader's vocabulary (either oral or print), the easier it is to make sense of the text. "