Big Ideas in Beginning Reading

Big Ideas in Beginning Reading is a website designed to provide information, technology, and resources to teachers, administrators, and parents across the country.

Big Ideas in Beginning Reading focuses on the five BIG IDEAS of early literacy:

In 1997, congress asked the NICHD, along with the U.S. Department of Education, to form the National Reading Panel to review research on how children learn to read and determine which methods of teaching reading are most effective based on the research evidence.

The panel included members from different backgrounds, including school administrators, working teachers, and scientists involved in reading research.

Specifically, congress asked the panel to:

  • Review all the research available (more than 100,000 reading studies) on how children learn to read.
  • Determine the most effective evidence-based methods for teaching children to read.
  • Describe which methods of reading instruction are ready for use in the classroom and recommend ways of getting this information into schools.
  • Suggest a plan for additional research in reading development and instruction.

The National Reading Panel's analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, systematic phonics (i.e., alphabetic principle) instruction, methods to improve fluency, and ways to enhance comprehension. The National Reading Panel's analysis defined the Big Ideas.

More Information

The Big Ideas in Beginning Reading website includes definitions and descriptions of the research and theories behind each of the big ideas, describes how to assess the big ideas, and provides information on how to teach the big ideas in your classroom.

To get more information about NICHD Publications and Materials about Reading, visit: