Reading Milestones for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Graders

During these important years for literacy, your child will transition from early readers to longer chapter books.
By Zoë Kashner



Reading Milestones for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Graders

The evolution of your child's reading ability from third grade to fifth is tremendous. Find out some of the important milestones that you can expect in each grade. Plus, discover how to know if your child is reading at grade-level.  

By the End of Third Grade, Your Child Will Be Expected to:

  1. Identify the meaning of common prefixes (un-, ex-) and suffixes (-full, -less)
  2. Be able to read and pronounce nearly any common word
  3. Describe the relationship between events, concepts, or steps in a process
  4. Read social studies and science content
  5. Identify an author’s point of view

By the End of Fourth Grade, Your Child Will Be Expected to:

  1. Read with accuracy and fluency (not stumbling over words)
  2. Self-correct when she mispronounces a word
  3. Be able to look for meaning in historical, scientific, and technical texts
  4. Compare and contrast two or more accounts of the same event
  5. Describe the theme, character, setting, and point of view in a story

By the End of Fifth Grade, Your Child Will Be Expected to:

  1. Quote from what he reads to help support her understanding
  2. Summarize what he reads and state the main idea or theme
  3. Compare stories to each other
  4. Be able to describe causes and effects as described in a reading
  5. Read literature, poetry, and drama

Don’t Be Concerned If These Skills Develop Erratically, Unless Your Child:

  1. Avoids reading
  2. Guesses wildly at unknown words instead of sounding them out
  3. Does not seem to get meaning from reading
  4. Displays troubling behavior, such as misbehaving in class or withdrawing

For more information on learning disabilities, visit the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Between the start of third grade and the end of fifth, you will see your child advance from early reader books with only a few words on the page to long chapter books. These reading skills will help your child accomplish countless tasks both for school and in his personal life.

How can you tell if your child is reading at grade level? You can seek input from teachers, and also review the topics and skills that are typically covered during these years in school.

Yearly Testing

During these grades, standardized testing becomes a part of the school year. When asked how they find out information about the school their children attend, the most common response (56 percent) was “standardized tests." Consider your child’s test scores to be one of several indicators of her skill level — along with her teacher’s feedback and her own attitudes about learning and school.

Whether — or how much — to prepare your child for standardized tests is up to you and your child’s teacher. Depending on the school, there may be days or weeks of class time devoted to preparation. Or, if your school generally performs well on the tests, test day may be just another low-key day of school. Regardless, ensuring a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast beforehand will help your child prepare.

Serious About Series

Many 8- to 10-year-olds become interested in book series. Your child may love the earnest adventures found in the American Girl series, the humor of the books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and, of course, the adventures of Harry Potter. If you’d like to get your child interested in a series, check out the first book in several series from the library and see which ones spark the greatest interest.  

Books Get Competition

Whether it’s because of video games, the phone, or TV, starting around age 8, children can become less frequent readers. According to a survey commissioned by Scholastic, 24 percent of children ages 9-11 are low frequency readers — meaning that they read books for fun less than once a week. Make sure that your child’s entertainment options are balanced, and that he always has a fun book around to read.

Reading Comprehension
Milestones & Expectations
Age 10
Age 9
Age 8
Child Development and Behavior
Reading Comprehension