Many learning theories concerning reading development have been put forth by academics. Many agree that a person's ability to learn to read is closely related to a variety of her cognitive processes.
The cognitive factors that shape reading development include attention, the ability to form concepts, language, memory, and perception. A change in any of these factors will cause a change in a person's ability to read.
Generally, as a child develops, he will progress through a number of reading benchmarks. For example, by around age 7, children should be able to read and retell familiar stories, sound out unfamiliar words, and use some punctuation. By age 10, children should be able to identify correct restatements of the same idea, extract specific information, and compare and contrast information. By age 13, children should be able to make inferences from the text, follow technical directions based on the reading, and identify themes.
To ensure that a child develops her reading ability in a normal way, a number of practices must be implemented. Parents must read to their children at an early age. Teachers must be trained in various methods of reading instruction to ensure that every child's needs are met. Reading materials must be age-appropriate to ensure that the child is challenged but not discouraged by too much difficulty.