Reading is a fundamental skill that shapes the way we learn and communicate. It also influences our perception of the world. Both and researchers emphasize the importance of effective reading instruction through a framework known as the Five Pillars of Reading. Here we’ll take a closer look at these five pillars, discuss how you can incorporate them into your classroom, as well as give you additional strategies to help enhance reading instruction.

What Are The 5 Pillars of Reading?

The Five Pillars of Reading are a set of key components that provide a comprehensive approach to teaching reading. These pillars are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Phonemic Awareness

This is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds—phonemes—in spoken words, such as segmenting the word “cat” into its phonemes /k/, /a/, and /t/.  is essential for reading because it is the foundation of phonics, the understanding of how letters are linked to sounds. It can be used to predict how well children will learn to read.


Phonics involves the relationship between letters and spoken sounds and using these relationships to read and spell words. Phonics instruction helps students learn to decode words organizationally and effectively. It is predictable and can help children decode unfamiliar words.


Fluency is the ability to read accurately, quickly, and with proper expression. Fluent readers recognize words without hesitation and can decode words without difficulty, allowing them to read naturally. They read in a way that makes what they read sound like spoken language.


Vocabulary is critical in reading because students must understand the meanings of words to understand what they are reading. Readers rely on the pronunciations and meanings of words they already know to help identify and understand new words.


is the ability to understand what you are reading. It requires students to think critically, ask questions, make inferences, and connect their knowledge with new information until they understand it. It is the ultimate goal of reading instruction.

Incorporating the 5 Pillars of Reading in the Classroom

Implementing the Five Pillars of Reading in the classroom involves using various strategies. Here are a few ways to incorporate these pillars into your classroom.

Phonemic Awareness Strategies

Focus on at most one or two phonemic awareness skills at a time. Teach students to segment words into individual phenomes. Have students identify specific sounds at words’ beginning, middle, and end. For example, ask students, “What is the first sound in the word dog?” The student will answer “/d/”. Then, move on to the middle and ending sound and blend the phenomes. You can also use rhymes, songs, and games to help solidify these skills.

Phonics Strategies

Teaching the alphabet principles and incorporating systematic phonics is an effective strategy for teaching phonics. This requires the teacher to clearly explain that certain letters or letter combinations represent specific sounds. For example, to teach the phoneme /k/, which is represented by the letter ‘c’, start by clearly introducing the sound itself.

Next, provide examples of words where ‘c’ corresponds to the /k/ sound. Then, focus on the individual sound to use it in full words and incorporate these words into sentences. Finally, have students practice this letter-sound correspondence through decodable texts that reinforce what they’ve learned.

Fluency Strategies

To develop fluency, have students repeat readings from familiar texts and then read in groups with their peers. Guided repeated oral reading, as well as reading along with audiobooks, helps students hear what fluent reading sounds like. Start by reading a text to the class, then have students read to a classmate. Next, have students listen to a prerecorded version of the text. Finally, have students choose a different text and read it several times until they feel confident reading aloud rapidly, with no mistakes and proper expression.

Vocabulary Strategies

Vocabulary is best enhanced when students are exposed to various language experiences. Reading aloud to students, repeated exposure to words, rewording definitions to make them easier to understand, and matching or sorting words are all great strategies to help improve vocabulary.

Comprehension Strategies

Comprehension strategies should be presented in different forms. To build younger students’ thinking skills, use students’ background knowledge. Encourage students to talk about what they already know about the topic. You can also host question-and-answer sessions and encourage students to relate the text to their own experiences to boost comprehension and improve understanding.

Additional Reading Strategies

Beyond the Five Pillars of Reading, you can adopt other strategies to further enhance students’ reading education. Here are a few ideas.

Using Technology

Digital tools can transform reading into an interactive learning experience that engages readers. For example, reading apps or eBooks may include clickable text to learn the pronunciation or meanings of words. They may also the reading experience making it more fun. Technology can also be tailored to students’ reading abilities so readers can adjust the speed and style to suit their needs.

Integrating Literacy Instruction

Combining reading with writing and other forms of communication can enhance students’ reading abilities. For example, the teacher may read students a story and have them discuss it in a group. Then, they write a reflection about it and discuss it further in groups. This multifaceted approach reinforces skills and encourages communication and critical thinking skills.

Parental Involvement

Encourage to help bridge the gap between the classroom and home. Involving parents helps reinforce what students are learning in the classroom. Provide resources for effective reading strategies at home. Give regular updates on how their child is doing with reading in the classroom and discuss ways parents can help support reading at home.

Teaching children to read can be challenging and requires a lot of instructional practice. However, once you have a thorough understanding of the Five Pillars of Reading you will be equipped to teach children from a method that is proven to be effective.