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Reading Fluency? How Many Words Per Minute Should My Child Be Reading?

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Kay writes about various topics that have affected her life. She also has a daughter with Dyslexia and covers reading fluency issues.

"Frog in the Library", February 25, 1956  By: Richard Sargent

"Frog in the Library", February 25, 1956 By: Richard Sargent

Reading Fluency and My Child

Hello. My name is Kay. I have a daughter with Dyslexia and, for the last few years, reading fluency has been an important part of our lives. I had to dig through the internet to find the information I needed to help my daughter and I hope to make that search just a bit easier for you.

If you are wondering how many words per minute your child should be reading, scroll down, I've listed them below.

Keep in mind, each school is different. I use the Dibels Oral Reading Fluency measurements because this is what was recommended to me. Here are the areas I will cover:

  • My family's story on reading fluency
  • What is reading fluency?
  • How to measure reading fluency
  • Breakdown by grade level

"The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go"

— Dr. Seuss

Matilda By: Quentin Blake

Matilda By: Quentin Blake

My Family's Story on Reading Fluency

I know you are here because you want to find out how many words per minute (wpm) your child should be reading. Feel free to skip ahead. I just wanted to share why I decided to make this page.

While my daughter was in first grade, we found out she had Dyslexia. The teacher tried to help but managed to stress us repeatedly about her fluency reading. She was in the lowest reading group and the slowest reader in that group. Despite the extra help, my daughter was just not improving as she should. She was definitely in the 'at risk' category for reading. Our solution was to begin homeschooling because school was just so stressful for her and it was difficult seeing her come home in tears day after day because she felt dumb.

We've used various tools to increase her reading fluency and, if you have a struggling reader, I will share some of what worked for us with you.

My daughter is now in third grade and, despite her Dyslexia, she is now a fluent reader. She often picks up books just to read. Currently, she is enjoying the American Girl series which are for ages eight and up. In school, she hated reading and didn't want to even attempt it at home. Now, after two years of homeschooling, she tells people reading is one of her favorite things to do. And, that makes it all worthwhile.

"Happy is he who has laid up in his youth, and held fast in all fortune, a genuine and passionate love of reading."

— Rufus Choate

What is Reading Fluency?

According to my my favorite book on Dyslexia Overcoming Dyslexia by Dr. Sally Shawitz from the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention, Fluency is defined this way:

"Fluency, the ability to read a text quickly, accurately, and with good understanding, is the hallmark of a skilled reader."

Fluency is often the defining boundary between children who enjoy reading and children who do not.

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."

— Emilie Buchwald

"Portrait of Jean and Genevieve Caillebotte" By: Pierre-August Renoir

"Portrait of Jean and Genevieve Caillebotte" By: Pierre-August Renoir

How To Measure Reading Fluency

Things You'll Need:

A timer or stopwatch

reading passage (do a Google search for 'sample reading fluency passage' and your child's grade level)

piece of paper


Our routine is fairly straightforward:

1. I explain that she will have one minute to read. I would like her to read normally.

2. I point to the first word in the reading and passage and say, "Begin" while pressing the start button on my one-minute countdown timer. If there is a title, I wait until she has finished the title and author's name before beginning the countdown.

3. I follow along while she reads aloud. If she mispronounces, omits, changes or add a word, I hastily write it on my own paper. You can mark a slash on the child's paper but I've found this really distracts her.

4. At one minute, I say, "End." and underline the last word she read.

5. To score, I subtract the error number from the total number of words read and that is her corrected words per minute.

6. After I have a score, we go over the incorrect words.

7. Although this next step is not necessary, we do one more timed fluency reading. She often will read a bit more the second time.

8. I keep track of our reading fluency test dates and scores. I find it helpful to see her progress throughout the school year.

"We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading."

— B. F. Skinner

1st Grade

Fall Fluency

Not tested at the beginning of the year

Winter Fluency

At Risk -- 0-7 wpm

Slight Risk -- 8-19 wpm

Low Risk -- 20+ wpm

Spring Fluency

At Risk -- 0-19 wpm

Slight Risk -- 10-39 wpm

Low Risk -- 40+ wpm

2nd Grade

Fall Fluency

At Risk -- 0-25 wpm

Slight Risk -- 26 - 43 wpm

Low Risk -- 44 wpm

Winter Fluency

At Risk -- 0-51 wpm

Slight Risk -- 51-67 wpm

Low Risk -- 68+ wpm

Spring Fluency

At Risk -- 0-69 wpm

Slight Risk -- 70-89 wpm

Low Risk -- 90+ wpm

3rd Grade

Fall Fluency

At Risk -- 0-52 wpm

Slight Risk -- 53 - 76 wpm

Low Risk -- 77+ wpm

Winter Fluency

At Risk -- 0-66 wpm

Slight Risk --67-91 wpm

Low Risk -- 92+ wpm

Spring Fluency

At Risk -- 0-79 wpm

Slight Risk -- 80-109 wpm

Low Risk -- 110+ wpm

4th Grade

Fall Fluency

At Risk -- 0-70 wpm

Slight Risk -- 71 - 92 wpm

Low Risk -- 93+ wpm

Winter Fluency

At Risk -- 0-82 wpm

Slight Risk -- 83-104 wpm

Low Risk -- 105+ wpm

Spring Fluency

At Risk -- 0-95 wpm

Slight Risk -- 96-117 wpm

Low Risk -- 118+ wpm

5th Grade

Fall Fluency

At Risk -- 0-80 wpm

Slight Risk -- 81-103 wpm

Low Risk -- 104+ wpm

Winter Fluency

At Risk -- 0-93 wpm

Slight Risk -- 94-114 wpm

Low Risk -- 115+ wpm

Spring Fluency

At Risk -- 0-102 wpm

Slight Risk -- 103-123 wpm

Low Risk -- 124+ wpm

6th Grade

Fall Fluency

At Risk -- 0-82 wpm

Slight Risk -- 83 - 108 wpm

Low Risk -- 109+ wpm

Winter Fluency

At Risk -- 0-98 wpm

Slight Risk -- 99-119 wpm

Low Risk -- 120+ wpm

Spring Fluency

At Risk -- 0-103 wpm

Slight Risk -- 99-124 wpm

Low Risk -- 125+ wpm

Get Fluffy and Fido Involved.

One of the best ways to improve fluency reading skills is to have your child read to their dog (or cat). Often the pet loves the attention and this takes a lot of pressure off your child. Reading to dogs boosts pupils' confidence, literacy

A Favorite Tip

on getting children a bit more interested in books.

Since my children were little, I'd have them in bed about 15 minutes early and after we said prayers and spent our time together, I'd let them have an additional 10 to 15 minutes to read if they'd like. Of course, they never wanted the light turned off so they'd spend time pouring over books, even before they could read them. They really enjoyed that time and it really helped to foster a love for reading.

One of Our Favorite Ways to Improve Reading Fluency

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."

— Frederick Douglass

Fluency is often the defining boundary between children who enjoy reading and children who do not.

Need to contact the author? You may e-mail Kay at

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Kay


Angelina Gossi on August 08, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your experience, it will help me as I was struggled to help a child to read

Felicity on April 20, 2019:

Is it normal for a 12 year old to read 1088 words a minute? Thank you!

Richard on January 09, 2019:

Um so I just took the Free Reading Speed test and I scored 704 words per minute and 100% comprehension. Is that unnatural? Please reply if so, it would be greatly appreciated.

Lightning201G on October 29, 2017:

We do tuition, we have been doing it for 3 almost four years!

It is getting better

paromita on March 24, 2017:

I am a mom & I have a 5 years old child.

This article will help me a lot.Thank you.

kayla on January 14, 2017:

hello,im 10 years old..and i can type 51 words per min and read over 112 per min.

Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on May 28, 2014:

Very useful lens! Thanks for sharing from your very own experience with your daughter.

RinchenChodron on May 27, 2014:

Wish someone had recommended this when I was a child with dyslexia! They have made progress over the years. Useful lens.

DaniRren on December 10, 2013:

It is important to determine the speed of reading for a child but I would not worry much about that as long as she is reading reasonably for her age. It matters that as a parent you get to let her to read at a pace that is comfortable for her. educationalplay.infoRegardsDani Rren

Kay (author) on November 07, 2013:

@mommyplus3kids: You are welcome!

mommyplus3kids on November 05, 2013:

I'm also a homeschooling mom and was looking for this info. This lens is very helpful because I also have a struggling reader at home. Thank you

Doc_Holliday on October 14, 2013:

Very useful lens. Thanks for sharing.

Socialpro54 LM on June 09, 2013:

Nice lens, useful stuffs for parents and children.

junkcat on June 01, 2013:

Very interesting lens, thanks for sharing all of this information.

anonymous on May 27, 2013:

You seem to conquer problems as you come upon them with such a great approach! The system you are using sounds a lot like what my sister did for a couple years tutoring for fluency and the kids sure liked having an adult all to themselves for 20 minutes a day. She had charts that the kids would fill out after each reading so the kids had instant reinforcement and then graphs that she did to follow progress and report to teachers...I think she was in AmeriCorps in those years.

moonlitta on April 15, 2013:

I've not been exposed to such an experience (being with dyslexia, or knowing someone with it) but it must have been terrible. Admiration for the courage and strength to go through this trial, and turn it into success:)

Kay (author) on February 18, 2013:

@squidoopets: Those seem to be frequent traits in those with Dyslexia. That is one of the reasons people with Dyslexia can be so successful!

Darcie French from Abbotsford, BC on February 18, 2013:

My daughter with dyslexia is 19, has moved out and is successfully employed. Her will and tenacity has helped her overcome her learning disability :D

SteveKaye on February 14, 2013:

This is an important lens that every parent should read. Thank you for publishing it.

RetroMom on February 05, 2013:

Great lens, i really found the youtube video interesting.Good work!!

Takkhis on January 31, 2013:

Very useful stuffs for parents and children.

anonymous on January 02, 2013:

Our daughter had mild dyslexia, which was diagnosed around the time she was also diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder. We don't know if it is related or if it is two separate conditions. However, despite some difficulties with spelling she is a very fluent reader, so we have no problems there. However, when she was younger we never thought to measure how many words she could read in a minute.

June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on December 08, 2012:

A very informative lens. My child is now an adult. I wish I had read more to him when he was young.

Lorna from USA on December 05, 2012:

This is a very informative lens. I believe homeschooling did a big part in helping your child to read better. Good job!

Camden1 on November 23, 2012:

What a great idea to have the child read to the cat or dog!

Fay Favored from USA on November 22, 2012:

A great resource to help parents with placement or general reading knowledge. Thanks for this information.

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on November 22, 2012:

Hi thank for sharing this info, Happy Thanksgiving day. Blessed.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on November 21, 2012:

Wishing you a Thanksgiving day full of blessings!

tobydavis on November 19, 2012:

Fantastic lens filled with lots of helpful information, which I'm sure will be of great comfort and use for parents trying to find the best way to approach their child's reading problems.I hope your daughter's reading is going well and she's becoming happier day by day with reading. I'm dyslexic (35 years old) and can read reasonably well. For what it's worth, here are some of my insights :I can happily research things on the Internet etc, though it does take me longer to read more complicated texts and repeated reading of specific passages is very common, before the information actually sinks in.A lot of the time reading is like water off a duck's back for me. I read the text, but it just passes through my mind without a trace. In contrast to this, when I watch a factual video / TV program, the information goes in and sticks very easily.Where I do still struggle is reading out loud. I can not pronounce a word I've only ever read (particularly a problem with names) and, conversely, I can not spell a word I've only ever heard. It's like the spoken and written languages are completely separate for me.On the plus side, I do really love language. I love Shakespeare and verse in particular. I write lenses here on Squidoo and write songs, can speak some French and a little German. any dyslexic child can go on to have a positive relationship with language and reading. I think the important thing is to recognize the difficulties, work at them, but, at the same time, always encourage the child to feel 'ok' about being dyslexic.It sounds like you've taken a wonderful, positive and proactive approach to the problem. This lens is a prime example of that :-)

Kay (author) on November 19, 2012:

@LouisaDembul: Thankfully we pick up languages a bit easier during our childhood. Hopefully she adapts quickly.

LouisaDembul on November 19, 2012:

My daughter is struggling with reading, she doesn't really understand it. Think it might have to do with her being bi-lingual. She is now leaving the language of her family and favoring the language of the country where we live. I am giving her new books in this language to see if it will help.

Torrs13 on November 18, 2012:

I don't have any kids yet but I work with children at an early childhood center so I've learned how important it is to work with children on their reading each day.

anonymous on November 18, 2012:

I've been blessed with children who love to read, but run into many people with learning disabilites in my work. Thank you for the information. This is very useful information for gaging a child's reading level.

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on November 16, 2012:

My son struggled and struggled when he did reading "tests" at school! We knew he could read well enough, but we discovered, that the "tests" made him nervous and did not do as well.

Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on October 31, 2012:

Really useful info. Reading is very important skill and every help is greatly appreciated!

anonymous on October 30, 2012:

Wow - a great deal of information and statistics, children pick up when they develop love for reading. It can be widely varying for different kids based on the background, age and many other factors.

renaldiethq on October 29, 2012:

It's great to see this lens. Even if your child goes to public school, it's important to understand - we are the advocates for our children!

WriterJanis2 on October 19, 2012:

While 3 of my kids are readers, one can't stand reading.

Kay (author) on October 18, 2012:

@tfsherman lm: That made me teary eyed too. Thank you so much for sharing!

Kay (author) on October 18, 2012:

@Gypzeerose: Thank you so much!

Kay (author) on October 18, 2012:

@CoffeeWriter LM: But they have a clear advantage in knowing two languages. I think that is terrific!

CoffeeWriter LM on October 15, 2012:

I try to read to my kids every evening before we go to bed. Because they're bilingual (English/French) they're reading level isn't necessarily at the level of someone with only one language.

Rose Jones on September 29, 2012:

Such a great lens - you will really help a lot of people. blessed..........

Rose Jones on September 29, 2012:

@tfsherman lm: That is such a sad story! It brought tears to my eyes.

tfsherman lm on September 29, 2012:

A lot of very useful and interesting information here. Thanks! I had a very moving experience a few years ago. An older patron kept coming in asking for books for his "grandson", who wasn't a strong reader but liked a good story. I kept picking and picking and finally, he was proud enough of his progress to explain that having been dyslexic all his life, "And they just beat me for it when I was a boy," he had found a technique by which he could learn to read. He graduated to the adult books soon after.

Tony Bonura from Tickfaw, Louisiana on September 23, 2012:

Very interesting and informative lens, especially to a former teacher like myself. I like to keep my hand in, since who knows, I may go back to teaching if anyone will hire an old fart like me. Really? No, just daydreaming outloud.TonyB

JoshK47 on September 07, 2012:

Very informative! Thanks for sharing - blessed by a SquidAngel!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 20, 2012:

Am happy you shared your experience clearly.

E L Seaton from Virginia on May 04, 2012:

Awesome content! As a masters level student even in this my ripe middle age, learning still fascinates me. Thanks for taking time to shed some light on dyslexia! You are an angel!

Kumar P S on April 30, 2012:

Great lens !

Shannon from Florida on April 23, 2012:

Great ideas! You've provided very helpful information!

Jeanette from Australia on April 16, 2012:

I believe homeschooling really helped my dyslexic son too.

anonymous on April 16, 2012:

Grateful to read an article like this, very important indeed to read to your child and my wife and I make a big effort to do this. Helps speed them up in learning with school. If anyone has a child struggling in school I'd highly recommend this.

HaleySchaeffer LM on April 14, 2012:

Hello Kay. Your lens really touched me. Thank you so much for your beautiful work on it!

Kay (author) on April 11, 2012:

@anonymous: That was my daughter in school. I just know that if we were not homeschooling her now, she would still be quite a bit behind. Homeschooling really allowed me to figure out where she was and what needed to be done. For her, that involved about three different language arts curricula last year! This year, we're also doing several different programs. It makes a world of difference.

anonymous on April 11, 2012:

I have never heard of reading fluency! Thank you for good info! I was blessed with a strong reader who loves to read. We couldn't keep him in books! Reading aloud is so beneficial. As a Sunday School teacher, I come across kids who read words, but do not read the words as sentences. It is sad to see them needlessly struggling.

franstan lm on April 09, 2012:

Love the reading fluency rates for each grade

Odille Rault from Gloucester on April 08, 2012:

Great suggestions here for improving reading fluency, and it's really useful to have a guide on how many words per minute is normal for each age group. I also find that enthusiasm from the parent helps to lower the frustration and "block" that can come from struggling with reading. Great resource! :)