Google said that at the age of 6 a child should be able to read.

Here I am talking about story books. I am talking about independent reading by the child where the child reads the sentence and understands what it means.

From what age do children start reading and understanding sentences?

2 Answers 2


Children are generally taught to start reading words in their Reception year at school (age 4-5), however I think from personal experience I would say that being able to read short words in a sentence does not automatically equate to being able to understand the meaning and context of the sentence.

By age 6, a good proportion of children are able to read more complex words, and understand the sentences and the book they're reading. A lot of it is a factor of how much they have been read to, and what sort of stories they are reading.

As with all things to do with child development, there is a fairly wide gap between the most and least able.

  • I upvoted this answer. I do, however, question the meaning of "complex". Sentences aren't hard to understand. What is really difficult to understand is inference - how that relates exactly and implicitly to the rest of the story. Mar 18, 2016 at 13:35
  • @anongoodnurse - My use of complex was in relation to words, not sentences. Typically, 4-5 year olds are reading simple 3-5 letter words, whereas by 6 we're up to any length word of any complexity. There is almost certainly a better way to express what I meant.
    – Jamiec
    Mar 18, 2016 at 15:27

Everyone giving you an age without a qualifying "on average" would be grossly generalizing.

Currently the ability to read (as in take an abstract symbol and attach meaning) is seen as a process of brain development, stemming from the same ability that allowed our ancestors to conclude from animal footprints to the behavior and whereabouts of the animal that made them. (Will have to search for the source...)

Some children "click" sooner (youngest examples I personally know are 3.5, which is a bit extreme) some later. An elementary school teacher confirmed from her experience that while most children are able to learn to read at around six, some need another year or so. So while practicing letters etc. helps, it's the brain development that is responsible for the big "Aha!" moment.

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