5 Components of Literacy

Teachers have so much to do that they often forget some of the cornerstones of literacy. For example, do you know the five literacy components, or Fab Five, as I like to call them? If you do, do you understand how they are all connected and vital to teach? If you’ve forgotten, it happens! It’s why you are here. So, let’s explore the 5 components of literacy and how they are important in every grade. 

components of literacy

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Importance of the 5 Components of Literacy 

The Fab Five are essential components that create a true reader. This is a person who is masterful and able to comprehend deep, complex text. Ultimately, a true reader does not have gaps in any of the literacy components. 

Component 1: Phonemic Awareness 

This is the most foundational literacy skill. It is the recognition that individual sounds, or phonemes, construct words. So, this is an auditory skill that helps predict actual reading. While students learn this skill starting in preschool, it is essential throughout their school years because it lays the groundwork for an understanding of how sounds form words. So, this single skill really sets students up for success later in their careers and is imperative to being a successful reader later in life. 

Component 2: Phonics 

Phonemic awareness and phonics are actually very, very different. While phonemic awareness is auditory, phonics is the systematic relationship between the letters, or graphemes, and the sounds, or phonemes. So, phonics allows our students to decode words, which is critical for reading, spelling, and writing. 

Component 3: Fluency 

This pertains to a reader’s capacity to read a text accurately, swiftly, and with proper expression. In other words, fluency turns the act of reading into an enjoyable experience. In many ways, fluency connects the Fab Five together. Since students can decode, they are now ready to progress to reading. So, fluency is like the bridge in the 5 components of literacy. 

Component 4: Vocabulary 

I’m sure we know this, but vocabulary is the bank of words a person knows and can use when listening, reading, and writing. This builds off of background knowledge, schema, and life experiences. A robust vocabulary is instrumental for understanding a text since we never know what words students will encounter throughout life. By working on vocabulary and how it builds comprehension, readers are ready to encounter diverse materials. Essentially, a robust vocabulary allows students to engage with content more effectively and efficiently. 

Component 5: Comprehension 

Comprehension, of course, is the pinnacle of reading! It is the ability to understand and interpret the meaning of a text. It is really the overall objective of reading. When students have strong comprehension, they can make meaning of the text and apply it to life. Additionally, they can take things away from the text. While all Fab Five components are essential, comprehension brings everything together. For instance, we can set up phonemic awareness lessons accurately, teach phonics, have fluent readers, and focus on vocabulary. However, if we do not teach students to be thinkers while they read, they will be unable to comprehend. 

Be sure to watch the video for more information on how the 5 components of literacy are essential all throughout life. Additionally, check out the Building Comprehension Hub for incredible professional development. 

I hope it is clear how the 5 components of literacy are interconnected! Phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension are essential to literacy! Ultimately, they allow students to be skilled, resilient readers. Best of all, the Fab Five helps prepare students for long-term academic success! 

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components of literacy


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I’m a wife, a mommy of 3, blogger, and a full time teacher author and presenter. I love to read, shop, and spend time with my family! My hands are always busy, but my heart is so full!

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