What happened to Stage 6?

I read a lot about reading when I was involved in adult literacy tutoring. It was a revelation to me that there were so many people who got through life without a skill upon which I was completely dependent. (We used to put op notices that said “1 in 5 can’t Read”, with little tear-off slips at the bottom for people who wanted to be tutors,or be tutored.)
There was a book by Jeanne Chall, “Stages ,of reading development”.
Thing is, I coulda sworn there were 6.
I personally vividly remember the first stages: being read to, “pretend” reading books I knew by heart, decoding (reading aloud when I thought you HAD to say the words; I asked my big brother how he read silently, and he told me I would have to work late at night with whips and chains) ; confirmation, informational skills, ‘construction and reconstruction’ . For a long time, I NEVER did not finish a book; love it or hate it, I compulsively read till the end
And finally stage 6, which had more in common in some ways with the “pre-reading” stage:you are bringing more to the page than you’re taking from it. Like when you read to a two or three year old, it seems like magic to them, they’ll focus on the codex itself, the pictures, obviously, maybe flipping the book around to see if the same thing will come out of the reader’s mouth. They’ll enthusiastically interrupt to reflect on something they’ve experienced which the story, or a certain word, or a name, brings to their minds. Giggle. Cry. Caress the pages. Rip the pages! It’s a one-medium multi-media experience.
Adam Corolla has a book out, ‘Everything Reminds Me of Something”. I haven’t read it, but I totes endorse the title sentiment. That sums up what I recall Chall saying about Stage 6. I’m there! And it is glorious. Everything else I’ve read and learned crowds around me, dances in and out of the text in front of me…of course reading online my have something to do with this, since you can instantly summon up info about anything outside the text.
I know I have Chall’s book somewhere; I was never a library person ,especially not when singed by the evangelical fire: Jonathan Kozol’s “Illiterate America”, Eileen Simpson’s “Reversals”, and undoubtedly Chall’s book: these were religious texts to me then, I’da wanted to own the codices. The physical book itself woulda been as important to me as the ideas therein. I can see myself actually hugging those codices, like we used to do as children with our well-used copies of “Little Women” , “The Five little Peppers”; “The Hollow Tree Stories”.
I gotta find it, to make sure I didn’t just…dream up stage 6. That can happen; I remember reading in American Scholar about the writer’s experience with some lines of poetry, I think they were from “Faust”, that everybody in the group he was socializing with could recite by heart—problem is, the lines do NOT actually appear in the text!
Welp—I hope some have read this meditation with moderate interest.
As for me: Stage 6 is pulling outta town again, and I aim to be on it.


It’s a glitch in the matrix!

Bereinstain/stein bears or Mandela effect? (source)

See here for a non-exhaustive list.


Well, @Hypatia, our interlibrary loan bureaucracy has come through. That Chall book is sitting here on my desk right now.

You ready for this?

Chall stipulated 6 stages, yup indeed. But she listed them as Stage 0 through Stage 5 inclusive. Talk about crappy writing! negligent obscurantism! foolish muddying of the waters of hypothesis!

No wonder you can’t remember “Stage 6,” although there was a sixth stage.
0 = something called pre-reading;
1 = cracking the code;
2 = fluency and something called ungluing from print;
3 = first step of reading for learning the new;
4 = reading prose presenting multiple viewpoints;
5 = construction and reconstruction; this includes the bit about deciding what to read and what not to read, having developed judgement; this includes the bit about bringing your own wisdom to the page to work along with the author.

So you are not making it up; rather you are making as much sense as possible, in retrospect, from a silly numbering scheme.

Now, how about remembering whole scenes from movies, setting up a viewing so as to enjoy them once more, and then being shocked to see that they aren’t there? That’s my specialty! It is complicated by the fact that there are different versions of films in circulation.

Anyway, the way forward is surely to tend to the unshakeable conviction that we are not the crazy ones; those guys are.


Thanks so much @jzdro ! Reckon I forgot about stage 0.
But I remembered Chall’s delightful description of Satge 0 and Stage 5, how much they have in common, how a pre-reader nd a truly seasoned reader bring as much to the page as they take from it. Also as I recall( and you can correct me if I’m wrong) Chall expressed her doubts that everybody COULD reach the final stage, even after college.
I did adult literacy tutoring as a volunteer for……8 years before my daughter was born. By that time,I no longer took the ability for granted, after sitting beside my students and knowing they simply couldn’t see the difference between d and b, between p and q. I watched my own kid with extreeeeme trepidation: would she, like most people do, internalize the code fairly effortlessly? Yes! Of course dyslexia is less common among girls anyway, for some reason. The book I mentioned, “Reversals” by Eileen Simpson (the first wife of the poet John Berryman) is one exception to the rule.
We had one or two married couples s students who were both illiterate. (and no, they weren’t of the class you’re probably imagining, they were firmly middle class, at least, and they spent their lives concealing their inability with an impressive variety of ruses.) None of them were my students, but what I heard was the wife was usually someone whose schooling for some reason had been defective; she’d be reading Nora Robert’s in NO time. The husband, though, was dyslexic and couldn’t match her progress. I hope we didn’t break up those couples!

Any way…next time you count your blessings, number among them your ability to effortlessly enjoy the pleasures of the text!