A longitudinal investigation of early reading and language skills in children with poor reading comprehension

Kate Nation*, Joanne Cocksey, Jo S.H. Taylor, Dorothy V.M. Bishop

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Poor comprehenders have difficulty comprehending connected text, despite having age-appropriate levels of reading accuracy and fluency. We used a longitudinal design to examine earlier reading and language skills in children identified as poor comprehenders in mid-childhood. Method: Two hundred and forty-two children began the study at age 5. Further assessments of language and reading skill were made at 5.5, 6, 7 and 8 years. At age 8, fifteen children met criteria for being a poor comprehender and were compared to 15 control children both concurrently and prospectively. Results: Poor comprehenders showed normal reading accuracy and fluency at all ages. Reading comprehension was poor at each time point and, notably, showed minimal increases in raw score between 6 and 8 years. Phonological skills were generally normal throughout, but mild impairments in expressive and receptive language, listening comprehension and grammatical understanding were seen at all ages. Conclusions: Children identified as poor comprehenders at 8 years showed the same reading profile throughout earlier development. Their difficulties with the non-phonological aspects of oral language were present at school entry and persisted through childhood, showing that the oral language weaknesses seen in poor comprehenders in mid-childhood are not a simple consequence of their reading comprehension impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1039
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number9
Early online date26 Apr 2010
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


  • language impairment
  • poor comprehenders
  • reading comprehension
  • reading development


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