I found this interesting Stages of Reading checklist on a blog today. It’s an interesting look at all the little steps there are from first encounters with a book to really reading.
It does seem to be written with a schoolish slant, which means some parts seem out of order for children learning reading at home. For instance, the ducklings were "retell[ing] a story by looking at pictures after repeated listening experiences" before they were two, but they still don’t know what their last name looks like. (Hmmm . . . maybe we should work on that.) And was there ever a time when they didn’t "enjoy having books read to them?"
Looking it over, though, I would say that D1 is in "Stage 4." She can write the entire alphabet out and knows all the basic sounds and a few of the secondary ones. (I never really even worked on teaching it to her in order, but she’s seen it enough in puzzles and charts to work it out, plus she loves the Alphabet Song I was so reluctant to teach her.) She’s comfortable picking out the initial consonant sound in a word, but tends to get lost after that. She generally starts writing left to right, although if she runs into an edge she turns and writes in the opposite order below, like the Ancient Greeks, so she’s in good company. She doesn’t have any of the standard "sight words" yet, but she does recognize "cat" and all of the family’s names.
D2 is in "Stage 2." He repeats phrases from books constantly. (One evening I commented to DOB that we could easily reproduce our children’s conversations by reading their favorite books onto an iPod and hitting "shuffle.") He can identify several letters and is starting to ask me to help him write them.
One little note: I see way far down on the list the milestone "sees self as a reader." This week D2 found a board book in the babies’ toy basket and was horrified. I told him it was OK for the babies to have that book, but he objected: "They can’t read!" He took it off for himself, so I guess as far as he’s concerned, that doesn’t apply to him.
I’ll try to look back every few months and see how they’re progressing on this. It’s fun to watch.