Is it Normal for a 7-Year-Old to Not Be able to Read?

I have a nephew who recently turned 7 and my sister-in-law had some questions about reading levels. She wondered how good at reading he should be. I did some research for her and I thought I should share what I learned with you.

So, is it normal for a 7-year-old to not be able to read? It is not normal for a 7-year-old child to not be able to read at all. At 7, a child should be able to read basic children’s books, and even start reading chapter books for kids.  It is normal for kids to still struggle with some words and for the reading to be somewhat choppy at this age.

If you are a parent, this may be shocking or concerning to you. A child by the third grade or by 8 years old, should be able to fluently read. There are steps to help you help your kid or possible reasons that your child is struggling.

Normal Reading Level for a 7-Year-Old

At the age of 7, a child should be reading, a lot. Not only should they, but they want to read. Most children develop a great desire to read. The curiosity at this age is intense and with schooling, their desire increases even more.  

They are looking for explanations for why the world is the way it is as well information on animals, plants, different countries etc. They are interested in stories and in imagination as well.

At 7 years old, or the second grade, a child should be able to read chapter books that are specifically written for children. Though they are reading chapter books, they still might not be able to read flawlessly or smoothly but they at this age, should be able to understand what is going on.

According to

“In second grade, children recognize more words by sight and can apply reading comprehension strategies in flexible ways so that they read with greater fluency (speed, accuracy and expression) and independence. Reading is a pleasurable activity for most children and they demonstrate their understanding through discussion, written response and participation in dramatizations.”

PBS Parents

So, at this age, not only should your child be reading but they should be understanding the text they read. 

A child at 7 years of age should be reading frequently to help develop the reading skill and cognitive thinking. It should also not just be simple picture books all the time. 

A child at this age may be able to read chapter books but they certainly should not be expected to read older, thicker, classics. Jane Austen is too hard for some adults to be read. This is certainly not what should be expected from a child. 

There are many children’s books out there. Some parents might be familiar with Beverly Cleary books or maybe read Junie. B Jones when they were young. These are the types of books a 7-year-old could read.

Variety is always good, too. Reading picture books may be interesting when thrown into the mix. It will also help a child develop confidence if he or she has a hard time finishing a book.

Stuttering at some words or slow reading is common at this time still. In second grade, a child’s reading is not considered fluent. It is not until the end of the third grade that a child is generally expected to be fluent. 

It is common at this age to have misspelled words, even if the child is at the right reading level. Spelling correctly usually comes after learning to read fluently. 

Now, all children are different. There are some who are going to be more interested in reading than others. There will be some who pick up more quickly on words and some that may struggle. Whatever the reading level is, it should be worked on and improved. 

How to Help a Child Read

There is always room for improvement. If you have a child that is 7 years old, you can always help. There are lots of little tips and tricks that parents have gathered over the years to help their child learn to read. If your child is falling behind here are some things that you can do to help. 

Set an Example

One of the funniest and best things about kids is how much they can pick things up from other people. Of course, this can be a scary thing as well. Have you ever said something like “dang-nabbit” and then heard your kid say the same thing the very next day. It’s almost like they are parrots.

One of the ways that kids learn the fastest is through watching other people. This is true when it comes to reading, too. If all you do in your free time is sit in front of the TV than your child will want to do that too. If you read and limit technology time, a child is more likely to want to read. 

If you have books or other reading sources like magazines in every room, reading will seem important and readily available. 

Reading should be looked at as something fun and interesting. If you have a positive attitude about reading, it can help your little one want to read as well. 

Make it Fun

If your kid is not having a fun time reading, there are little things or games to try to make it seem more interesting. A desire to read is something that needs to be gained, especially for a child who is struggling. 

Flash cards with pictures of the words are a great way to go to if you are just starting. This will help associate the word to a picture. 

Playing with alphabet soup or lettered cereal is a fun way to help your kid read too. They can find words in their food and spell out words as well.

Kids scrabble, word bingo, hangman, matching games, rhyming games can all help a child learn while having fun.

Reading should not seem like a burden. If you try to make it seem fun and exciting it will make the whole reading process seem easier. 

For some ideas to help you help a 7 year old that you know, click here.

Be Patient and Be there

As a parent, you should be there for your child as they learn to read. One of the most important things that you can do to help your child is to help pick out the right book.

“Help choose books at the right level – your child should be reading with 95% accuracy. This allows them to be confident while still having some challenges. Often struggling readers will choose harder books to save face. Let them select a harder book for you to read to them but make sure they have books at their independent level”.

Something else that will help them immensley is reading together. Reading together and reading out loud to your child will make a world of difference. When your child is struggling, it helps to have an adult there to give them hints and to gently correct them when they guess the wrong word.

Reading out loud to you will help them feel accomplished and proud as well. Taking turns will let them know that you are engaged and aware of them.

Getting better at reading takes time. As you show love and patience to a struggling 7-year-old, they will not feel pressured or feel as though they are failing. Setting reasonable goals with your child will help them know they are making progress which is one of the most important things that you could do for your child. 

Reasons Your Child could be Falling Behind

Sometimes, it seems that nothing that you do helps your 7-year-old feel like they are getting better. There are cases where there needs to be some extra help or there is an issue behind the lower reading level. 

Issues that can hinder a child’s reading ability include:

  • Dyslexia – this is a big one. It inhibits a child from seeing words correctly and often leaves a reader frustrated and confused
  • ADHD – a child with this may not be able to concentrate long enough on the book
  • Visual Processing Disorders – these can make it difficult to tell shapes of letters and numbers apart
  • Blurry vision – if your child gets headaches from reading this is a possibility. Looking at blurry texts can make it hard to want to read 

The best way to solve these problems is to check with teachers to see if they notice the problems too. Talking to a doctor to diagnose a child will help too. There are tutors available who know how to help kids with dyslexia. 

Whatever the reading level, there are always ways to get better. If your child is having trouble reading, the best way to help is to get involved. 

Related Questions

What grade is a 7-year-old in? Someone who is 7 years of age is going to be in the second grade.

What grade should my child be a fluent reader? Children should be fluent readers by the end of the third grade. Most children begin reading around 5 or 6 years old but are not expected to be fluent readers until they are 8. 

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