Holistic Reading Stages
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Reading is not an isolated skill. It is a crossroads of numerous faculties that touch on cognitive, emotional, and spiritual development to build our ever-growing critical and intuitive consciousness. Reading begins to network crafted cultural knowledge creating and sustaining its unique ethnosphere. It is important to recognize these stages as cumulative, but also unending and cyclical. One never stops developing as long as practice continues, that is to say, reading is a lifelong process that requires a lifetime of practice. Indeed, more material worthy of reading exists than could ever be read by even the most apt reader. A good reader is not necessarily a fast reader, or able to read long words, or read aloud well, or memorize something quickly.

A good reader:

is comfortable with diverse texts.

enjoys reading.

reads often.

is able to synthesize content with their own experiences for relevance.

is able to synthesize content from various medias and texts and see connections and differences.

1 . Pattern Awareness

Pre-reading/ Continued Reading Development

Pattern recognition begins before birth with heartbeat, mother's voice, feeding patterns, and emotional movements. The ability to identify patterns is a crucial piece of language development as a learner must begin to pick apart individual words from word strings. Indeed, communication relies on reproducible stimuli that can be interpreted in a regular way. Visceral, visual, linguistic, rhythmic and musical, emotional and intuitive patterns are everywhere. The process is a foundation for math reasoning , alphabetic awareness, synchronistic awareness and critical thought.

This spectrum of aptitude is also considered in Gestalt theory which identifies the human tendency to leap to wholes that complete a variety of parts. Both direct subject-object or want-satisfaction learning as well as peripheral, holistic and subconscious learning are developing in tandem. Every interaction is tested against an accumulating conscious memory, innate intuition, and biological and spiritual memory. Everyone is a mentor.

2. Pictorial Sequence, Body Language, Call and Response

Pre-reading/ Continued Reading Development

Pictorial sequence allows early readers access to the emergence of story. This stage is dominated by the conflict that emerges between multiplicity and sequence as a reader has to come to terms with the story as it is represented while continuing to have the freedom of entering the story from any point, or page, as well as the freedom to dwell or move as they choose in whatever direction their whim or curiosity takes them. This conflict never need be resolved, but rather a growing sense of continuity is built just as a baby tolerates and then trusts that when the mother is not in sight that she will return. Facial and body expressions are the first stages of spacial/ symbolic awareness that trigger cause and effect which lead to aptitude in social cues and create a foundation for Emotional Intelligence and Critical Synthesis. Trusted close relationships become reinforced schemata for interpreting the world. Call and response begins to develop the sense of voice and existential awareness that grow to become the relevance of the reader in the text.

3. Linear / Multi-directional Choice: Browsing

Pre-reading/ Continued Reading Development

From infancy through mature development browsing is a fundamental beginning and continued practice in the process of reading. Whether it be a baby learning about the tactile texture of books (be it board books or fragile pages of more mature medias) or a patient waiting in a professional office perusing a magazine, a reading hunter looking for the next gem in a library or bookstore, or a researcher sifting for pertinent information in abstracts and annotated texts, browsing develops into scanning. Primarily a visual process and kinesthetic process, it both engages the readers’ sense of choice and random point of interjection as well as fostering sequential development at the learner's own pace. This stage is crucial for continued self-motivation for more advanced interaction with texts.

Mentors demonstrate interest in the phenomena and processes of the world while modeling the relevance of reading materials to the art of investigation, truly curiosity that builds curiosity.

4. Storytelling- Hearing Fables, Myths, and Legends Animated by Voice

Pre-reading/ Continued Reading Development

Story is a constant part of human communication. Storytelling emphasizes several codes of story packaging. Humans are wired for story and although literacy has suppressed Oral aptitude in many modernized cultures, it is easily fostered by consciously moving story telling into a regular experience. Fables, Fairy Tales and Ancient Sagas are exceedingly rich with mnemonic devices and archetypal sketches that contribute toward both critical development, landscape of allusion and psychological and spiritual vocabulary and matrix.

Mentors are dynamic, multifaceted characters that can both relate an engaging tale but also have an art for the relevance, timing and aesthetics of the tale.

5. Listening to Stories Read by a Fluent Dynamic Reader

Pre-reading/ Continued Reading Development

While this stage may seem a stage of enrichment, Reading Aloud to emerging readers fosters a love of reading because of increased comprehension and a pairing of emotion between the reader and the act. It provides substantial well-spoken rich vocabulary, literary and historical awareness. Learners without this experience suffer a much more arduous process of accepting the toil of reading as a self-motivated task. In addition, it models reading skills which are important for the emotional development of an avid relationship with reading. Listening to rich vocabulary also primes a brain for much more advanced vocabulary, critical reasoning and academic success. Studies are clear that the more words a child hears throughout their development translates directly to academic and emotional success later on.

Mentors are leaders in the learning process developing the connection between text with mystery, delight and accumulating curiosity for the universe. They model reading as a habit both aloud and in their personal time as a form of peripheral learning for the emerging reader. Challenging texts preserve the child's tolerance for ambiguity.

6. Alphabetic Awareness

Reading/ Multilingual Reading Development

Linguistically Aliterate

Alphabetic comprehension is an extended process of abstract reasoning. When developed thorough pictorial representation the development is scaffolded on prior abstractions. For example, a picture of a tree is not a tree just as the letters t-r-e-e are not a living organism, but come to represent such within a variable context. Reading does not begin with alphabetic awareness just as it does not end with isolated and reduced meanings. The reader is always working in a wider context of why. Mentors will often need to prompt this question until the learner is habitual in looking for relevance.

In this stage readers begin to understand, implicitly, their own culture through the organization and presentation of the system of alphabetic abstraction including, but not limited to case, phonological awareness (shape of phonetic patterns, syllables alliteration, rhyme, and divergences such as homophones and spelling sometimes found in high-frequency words), punctuation, aesthetics of script, and orientation, many of which will have already been primed by earlier stages. This stage is repeated by multi-language learners and can be more or less severe depending on the difference of alphabet from their native language. In any case it is literally creating new realities in the learner that serve for increased critical and divergent thinking skills.

Mentors should be astute in the basic construction of the language a learner is coming from so as to identify and provide keys to these new realities.

7. Blocking and Decoding

Reading/ Multilingual Reading Development

Pre-literacy/ Aliteracy

Early readers are utilizing their skills of pattern making to form the relationships of sound/symbol- often paired with additional pictorial context clues. They see text around them and point it out, identifying that they understand they live in a world of print. They are reading the canvas as much as the specific phonetic groups. This process starts with basic native sounds (e.g. consonants and short vowels) and they are able to identify consonant-vowel-consonant (C-V-C) words or structures, as well as a number of high-frequency words which may pose more challenging decoding, but are absorbed through repetition. As the learner develops an arsenal of known symbols and symbol strings they move into more advanced concepts of diphthongs and varied use of alphabetic possibilities like a hard or soft “c” as in cat or circle and the “y” as a consonant or vowel as in “yet” and “very.” This process is always hinged on their concept of the language and their personal lexicon as they are making leaps of meaning, filling in gaps of understanding where they are missing knowledge.

8. Internalizing

Reading/ Multilingual Reading Development

Pre-literacy/ Aliteracy

As the sounds of the language begin to move inward readers are developing comprehension skill and aptitude with more advanced and varied text- alphabet, phonological awareness, and early phonics as well as more advanced structures. They have command of a significant number of high-frequency words which allows for greater ease and fluidity. They are becoming more comfortable with the unexpected and learning to tolerate ambiguity depending more on their developed skills to locate the solution to decoding challenges. They are developing their familiarity with different applications of text as well as font aesthetics. They are comprehending differences between fiction and nonfiction (perhaps menus, instructions, street signs), and building their use of reading as skill that has personal value. Reader is able to reiterate basic elements of the text which reveal an expanding comprehension. They often read and re-read to improve their feeling of success with a text.

9. Comprehension Reflection

Reading/ Multilingual Reading Development

At this stage, reading is more fluid or automatic, with more work devoted to comprehension and reflection than decoding. They are hearing a fluid voice in their heads of the language. The ideas of the text remain in the foreground through an entire read rather than the mechanics. Readers are approaching independent comprehension realizing the value and intention in the text themselves. They engage in an expanding variety of text and sophistication and are able to recognize different styles and genres. These readers are developing a vocabulary and existential faculty for being able to analyze and discuss a text from their point of view. They can clearly identify main points or their inability to do so and thus elicit further assistance. They can identify logical errors.

Mentors identify the aesthetic value in the texts that may be being overlooked by the labor the reader is investing in a text. They model connection building and elicit relevance to the readers landscape of allusion and personal experience.

10. Participatory Readers

Pre-literacy/ Aliteracy

Readers have developed a strong internal voice and can sense the differences of voice in a variety of authorship and genre and can truly participate at a low-level in a literate world. They more easily elicit meaning, analyzing in the moment, and are able to move deeper into text to infer at greater and greater leaps. They recognize more literary devices and find a greater enjoyment in their skill. Readers have successfully moved into low-independent readers. Their reading is natural and is done with expression and proper pauses. Their energy is devoted to meaning and they have a greater tolerance for ambiguity or delayed understanding. They utilize various comprehension strategies including basic concepts of etymology, parts of speech, and affixes and automatic punctuation cues.

These readers read a wide range of text types and do so increasingly independently though they often find they have missed greater depth when working with a mentor . They will continue to refine and develop their reading skills as they encounter and are encouraged through more difficult reading materials. It is important for future success for readers of this level to be continued to be ushered by more advanced readers as they may not have the abstract abilities to follow some text at its true depth. With measured and relevant material that is the right balance of accessible and challenging they are capable of improving their reading skills and practice a growing ability for independent selection of materials. Readers of this level can have a discussion concerning themes, tone, plot, intention of the author, and meaning, while synthesizing the absorbed understanding into a reflection that includes themselves and perhaps their community. They are able to identify basic allusions and increase their ability to synthesize text by engaging their (hopefully) rich background, but often only with support. Readers entering this stage may still get discouraged without enough assistance on more difficult writing which can lead to a rejection of reading. Emerging comfort with figurative and abstract language and ideas.

Mentors acknowledge intuitive sparks and connections often helping the reader to flesh out just how significant those connections might be.

11. Sophomoric Readers

Aliteracy- Literacy Transition

Sophomoric Readers have continued to develop their literacy including an elementary understanding of fine literature, both contemporary and historic. They are moving from primarily analysis to synthesis. Their internal voice can sustain different character representations and they have a greater ability to“see” the world being created by the author. While they are increasingly independent they often cut themselves out of more sophisticated understanding by failing to engage in difficult or foreign language elements. Much literature is still quite difficult and a group atmosphere can be the difference between understanding and enjoying a particular text and developing a rash opinion that can lead the reader to blame a particular author or text for their own lack of mature reading skills. Reads for pleasure including periodicals, pop-novels and accessible non-fiction but may not push themselves to read truly challenging materials. Reader can remember impressions about what they have read or even some specific details but those will not necessarily surface in other work because the reader does not maintain a picture of all learning within themselves . Allusions are possible but not always accessible . Expert support is still very helpful when developing a perspective or judgment about advanced texts that may require a higher level of critical skills and exposure to allusion, and life experience . Comfortable with more figurative language and expression and a much broader vocabulary.

Mentors demonstrate the setting and format for deep discussion of text. They model a variety of directions a text can be processed into an expression of the individual in reflection to the universe.


12. Deep Reader


Widely read, a deep reader will read for life. A deep reader will read from personal drive rather than strictly outside prompting as it has become a tool to gain access to information and perspective otherwise absent from other media. These readers have developed critical thinking skills that continue to develop with wider experience in advanced texts and cannot help but see connections and patterns between multiple texts and gestalten. They can sense the mood or tone of authorship and make analogies to non text media. They dabble in multiple languages including foreign tongues, music notation, numbers and find inclusions of such as enrichment material for the meaning and authenticity of composed messages. A deep reader remembers what they have read and that cumulative memory increases the resonance and relevance that each new reading experience brings . They have an appetite to investigate and crave the lager picture. Well acquainted with extended figurative expression and aware of most literary devices when employed. In this stage, archetypal awareness shapes and categorizes concepts. On both literal and figurative levels, the reader can maintain focus for a longer period as they are breathing through other experience, content and relevance, able to stand a greater degree of ambiguity and perhaps unresolved logic . Their ever-growing landscape of allusion is a diverse ecosystem of comparisons and connections.

Mentors here are those able to converse with the reader allow for more profound digestion of concepts.

13. Transcendent Reader

Advanced Literacy

Transcendental Readers achieve a literacy above all others where they are able to recognize meaning in numerous symbol systems and identify complex similarities and unique anomalies. They read fluently in multiple languages including foreign and ancient tongues, music notation, numbers and include examples of such in their synthesis. They have developed a sophisticated sense of flow and connection where in the act of reading is not just enjoyable but an integral part of their livelihood . These readers absorb complex and florid construction and often recognize far reaching conceits and literary expressions (even when unintended by the author). They liberally bound between time and content to draw on multiple layers meaning, intention, style and effect. Readers at this stage can be said to be literary sages, offering synthesis that pulls from the physical, emotional and spiritual domains to generate original reflection and regenerative wisdom.

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