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

Updated on April 29, 2016
"Frog in the Library", February 25, 1956  By: Richard Sargent
"Frog in the Library", February 25, 1956 By: Richard Sargent | Source

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.

"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 | Source

Why a Page on Reading Fluency?

This is our story

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.

Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level
Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level

Excellent book to read if you know somebody with Dyslexia and, if you are Dyslexic yourself, buy the audio version. You really will learn so much! I can say this book helped us more than any other resource out there!


Do you have a child with Dyslexia?

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"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.

Do you have a child who struggles with reading?

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"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 | Source

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.

How often do you read with your child?

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

— Frederick Douglass

Are you doing anything extra to help your child with reading?

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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


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    • profile image

      paromita 4 months ago

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

      This article will help me a lot.Thank you.

    • profile image

      kayla 6 months ago

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

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

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

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

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

    • profile image

      DaniRren 3 years ago

      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

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