Which High Frequency Words?

One of the biggest difficulties in learning to read is that even when children have mastered all the critical core phonic skills they will encounter many words that are not phonically regular. That’s the bad news. The good news is that our analysis of all the words within the 500 Books indicates that a small number of incredibly useful words occur over and over again, while a large number occur with very low frequency: just 16 words make up over 28% of all the words in the 500 books, while 100 words account for over 50%. So teaching a small number of words is extremely powerful and gives children access to a significant proportion of any books that they read – provided the right words are taught. As for those 100 high-frequency words – they occur just as often in adult literature. Skill-matching highlights those books among the 500 in which they occur most often.