Scientific Chart of Literacy Stages

An exciting thing is happening: my nearly five year old is learning to write! This is the second time I’ve had the privilege of watching the process unfold, and so you might call me a bit of a literacy “expert.” Thus I have developed standards to determine what stage of literacy your child is currently in. Please feel fee to use this chart to impress friends, intimidate fellow parents, and/or discipline your child, as necessary.

Literacy Stage I: Stares blankly at books. Also stares blankly at other people, toys, and pets.


Literacy Stage II: Eats and/or tears books. Refuses to let you turn pages. Eats writing implements.

Literacy Stage III: Uses writing implements to color on walls and/or existing books. Attempts to flee if parent engages in shared reading activity.

Literacy Stage IV: Unable to read, but enjoys looking quietly at books for long periods of time. A fleeting stage, if it happens at all. Some children never enter this stage. Your friends’s children will be in this stage while yours is in Stage III. You should probably lie and say your child is too.

  • Literacy Stage IVa: Likes being read aloud to. But only ONE book. The SAME book. Day after day, multiple times a day. Skips over beautiful award-winning board books and carefully selects the most awful, poor quality book for the parent to read. When parent tries to dodge out of it, insists, “No WIKE it Mama Wama! I WIKE¬†BARBIE’S PARTY BUS!”

Literacy Stage V: Flagrantly lies about being able to read.  Writes pages of semilegible letters and demands to know what they say. Appears angered if told they say nothing pronounceable. Turns pages of prememorized baby books and incorrectly rattles off the words generally encompassing each page. Any elder siblings should be reminded to immediately insist to a child in this stage that he does not know how to read, of course. A child in this stage will fight back and insist that he does.

Literacy Stage VI: Writes words that can actually be deciphered, in cute little upside down and backward formats. Starts to decode simple actual words.

Literacy Stage VII: Figures out how to write misspelled, naughty potty words to leave on little slips of paper around the house. Reads simple books. Tries to read adult literature and succeeds in finding the word “the” on every page. Writes forbidding notices to put on door. Please note that the potty words and forbidding notices may start to emerge in Stage IV.

In case his sister thought she was welcome
In case his sister thought she was welcome

Literacy Stage VIII: Finds all humorous, sexual, or otherwise inappropriate written materials in the home and questions parents about these. Reads books at appropriate reading level but at completely inappropriate content level. Can be quieted by providing interesting-looking books, but may keep reading them in the car and vomit all over a bag full of library books. Leaves library books opened all over the house, in the sand box, and where they will be eaten by the dog.*

Literacy Stage IX: Reads constantly. Figures out how slippery wordsmithing and logic skills can get you good grades and out of trouble.

Literacy Stage X: I think this is the stage I’m in. Likes to read, but has no time. Sometimes throws paperbacks into the purse to bring to the oil change place, where they will be ignored due to child-rearing demands taking place on the floor of the auto¬†shop.


So there you have it. Remember to cite it appropriately and send all requisite monies to me when you use this in your own research. I’ll probably write some more stuff into this chart upon further study and research.


Says "Asher went on"
Says “Asher went on”

*Selah left a library book outside called 101 Fun Things to Do with Your Dog. The dog ate it.



3 responses to “Scientific Chart of Literacy Stages”

  1. […] more snark, check out Scientific Chart of the Stages of Literacy and Calculating My Weighted Parenting […]

  2. Spot on! I have members of my family in most of these stages, currently. My favorite memory was of my Noah (now 4) as a toddler “reading books” quietly in his crib after nap time. He was probably about 15 mo – 2 yrs. Current 15 month old likes books but only in social contexts.

    1. It feels like magic the first time (or maybe always?) you spot them quietly browsing books on their own!

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