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Why are Fry words important for children to know?

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Quick Answer

The Fry word list is an important tool to help children learn to read and understand language; educators incorporate the list of the 1,000 most commonly found words in the English language into lesson plans divided by grade levels. First-graders learn words one through 200 and those in second grade are taught 201 through 400.

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The list was first compiled by researcher Edward Fry and listed and ranked by the order of frequency when used in language, according to ReadingHorizons. The first 300 words are used in 65 percent of published material, the first 100 are used in half of published material and one through 25 are used in one-third of the material.

The first hundred words consist of words like "the" and "over"; the second hundred includes "name," "help," "because" and "answer." By the time the list is learned, a reader should be able to understand 90 percent of the words in the average book, newspaper or website.

The goal for using the list in class is to teach students to recognize the words on the list on sight by memory, instead of stopping and breaking it down. This improves fluency, accuracy, speed and overall reading comprehension and it can be the key to helping a struggling student.

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