In this series we are going to go in depth on the first three stages of literacy development, emergent, early, and transitional. If you missed the overview of each stage, start here.

This post is going to focus on the third of these three stages of literacy development, transitional readers and writers. Your child is in this stage from about 7-9 years old. Keep in mind that the ages I give you are just an average and your child may be older or younger depending on development. Use the information as a guide and a place to start, but focus on your child’s needs more than age.

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How to teach your child to read

What is a transitional reader and writer?


  • A transitional reader is a child who is transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. Transitional readers will still come across words they do not know how to decode, but they are better able to predict the word based on context clues and their understanding of the story. This is the stage where they are still working hard at reading, but able to keep the meaning in mind and enjoy the story or text. Your reader at this stage may need to pause often and recount what has been read in order to comprehend longer texts.


  • At this stage, the reader will be reading at a good pace. Rather than having to sound out every word, a transitional reader will be more fluent and easily move from one word to the next without too much trouble.


  • Transitional writers are similar to transitional readers. A transitional writer doesn’t spend so much time encoding words. They are capable of writing words with less thought into the spelling and have a large bank of words they already know how to spell. However, a transitional writer will still use a variety of strategies to spell more complex words just as they do to read more complex words. Spelling may not be perfect at this stage, but it is much more sophisticated and doesn’t hold the child back from writing.

literacy development activities

How will you know you have a transitional reader or writer?


  • The first sign that your child has made the leap from an early reader to a transitional reader is his or her reading rate. You will start to notice an increase in the amount of words per minute your child can read. Reading rate is not necessarily a perfect measure for reading ability. You don’t want your child to think that the faster (s)he reads, the better. You are looking for a conversational speed that allows your child to understand the story or text that is being read.


  • The next sign is that your child is able to tell you what has happened in the story or what (s)he has learned from the text.


  • If your child is doing both of these things, chances are (s)he is a transitional reader.


  • As far as being a transitional writer, you will notice your child becoming a more fluent writer as well. Meaning, it doesn’t take as much effort to get ideas down on paper. Spelling is becoming more automatic and sentences are becoming more complex. You may notice your child writing dialogues or telling more elaborate stories with their writing. All of these skills are clues that your child has become a transitional writer.


Remember you may not have a child who is in the same stage for reading and writing. That is okay. If you aren’t sure, make sure to read the other two posts in this series (emergent and early readers and writers) to find just the right stage for your child.


What do you do with your transitional reader or writer?


  • Listen to your child read often. Encourage comprehension by asking questions periodically.


  • Continue to read aloud to your child and model fluent reading. Parents often think children outgrow being read to, but reading aloud has benefits for a child at any age.


transitional readers


  • Talk about books.


  • Do research together on topics of interest for your child.


  • Series are great at this stage. When characters, setting, and some plot elements stay the same, it will make comprehension easier.


  • Make time in every day that your child reads. If it is a regular part of your day, you are less likely to have any push back and more likely to raise a child who loves to read.


  • Go to the library, utilize online resources, get magazine subscriptions, and make reading engaging.


A few of my favorite resources for transitional readers and writers:


ABC Mouse– Depending on your child’s age, ABC Mouse is an awesome resource to engage children in literacy activities. You can read more here or get signed up for a FREE 30 day trial by using this link.


Epic– This is one of my absolute favorite resources. The books are incredible and your child can read, be read to, and follow along with highlighted text. There are over 25,000 titles with your child’s favorite characters and series. Sign up for your FREE trial here.

transitional reader