Sight Words — The Gateway to Proficient Reading

SARA’s Books
2 min readMay 25, 2023

Any word that a reader recognizes instantly is a sight word, and skilled readers have sight-word vocabularies of tens of thousands of words. This word reading fluency of familiar words (reading by sight) is 10x faster than even skilled phonemic recoding of unfamiliar words (reading by phonemic de/re/coding skills). Reading words by sight is essential for reading fluency, comprehension, and overall literacy skills.

Word-Specific Fluency

Word-specific fluency refers to the ability to read a particular word quickly and accurately, without relying on phonemic recoding. By measuring and tracking each student’s unique sight word vocabulary — the word-specific fluency of every word they read — SARA can provide personalized recommendations for reading material to help them build out their sight word vocabulary and practice fluent reading to support comprehension and overall literacy skills.

Enhancing Word-Specific Fluency with SARA’s Books

Our revolutionary e-reader app, Read by EAR, prioritizes fluency first. By assigning readings carefully curated for word-specific fluency and designing in cognitive aids for unfamiliar words, we help students build their sight word vocabulary. This approach is informed by the latest generation of neuroscience research and is designed to work in hand-in-glove with any literacy curriculum.

The Science of Reading

While phonics instruction is an important part of literacy education, phonics skills are not the only path to word-specific fluency. SARA’s Books is committed to providing a more comprehensive approach to literacy education that acknowledges the importance of both sight words and phonics.

The challenges a phonics-first approach places on emerging readers include:

  • Cognitive Overload: Phonics instruction requires readers to recode letters into phonemes and phonemes into words, which can be cognitively taxing.
  • Imprecise Mapping: Because of imprecise mapping of letters to phonemes (one letter can represent multiple phonemes, and one phoneme can be represented by multiple letters), emerging readers relying on phonics skills often must ‘try on’ multiple pronunciations for each syllable in search of a familiar word.
  • Slow Reading: Relying on phonics skills slows down reading, which can be frustrating for emerging readers.
  • Poor Comprehension: When readers are focused on phonics skills they are less able to focus on comprehension.

Our practice of Engaged Aided Reading (EAR) aids the word-learning process by offering support for unfamiliar words, allowing learners to build their sight word vocabulary and word-specific fluency.

Embrace the Revolution in Literacy Education

Discover the power of sight words and word-specific fluency with SARA’s Books. Let’s create a world where every child is a confident, fluent reader. Consider joining our team today.

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