Confusion Where to Begin Reading

The Problem Looks Like…

The new reader is not sure where to begin reading.

How to…

Clear up confusions about directional movement across pages of print by modeling in a variety of texts.

It’s Related to…

English reads from left to right. Not all languages read from left to right. Some read from right to left. Some read in long vertical lines from the top of the page to the bottom or bottom to top.

  • Directional movement across a line of print is a foundational skill of early literacy.

  • The starting point is the first of many essential understandings.

  • Skilled readers do not think about where to begin reading, but a novice reader can be confused.

  • Direct, explicit instruction creates certainty.

The book, “Turn the Page…It’s Fun!: A Concepts of Print Story” by Connie Dickison, addresses this issue by stating “Begin right here. Have no fear. We’ll practice until it’s known.”

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In English, the starting location is always the uppermost word on the left side of a page.

This is not as simple as it sounds when you consider the many layouts presented in print. For example, look at the following pages. Each one offers a different challenge for the new reader. The best approach is to clearly, unequivocally point out the starting position.


Since the starting point varies widely, it is essential that learners read as much as possible. It is only through exposure to a great many stories that readers begin to create a schema for where to begin reading no matter the lay out.

Now That’s Better…

Readers are experienced with many texts and are solid in their understanding of various page layouts. The starting point is not a challenge and left to right, top down movement is second nature.