The ability to construct meaning from texts is the core of reading. We report a meta-analysis and a systematic review of 64 longitudinal studies tracing the development of reading comprehension from preschool. Previous research showed that linguistic comprehension and code-related abilities in preschool correlate moderately with reading comprehension, but the results across studies are inconsistent. Meta-analytic structural equation modelling showed two distinct but related pathways from preschool linguistic comprehension abilities to reading comprehension in school. One pathway consists of code-related skills (letter knowledge and phonological awareness), and it affects reading comprehension through word recognition. A second pathway consists of linguistic comprehension skills (vocabulary and grammar), and it has a direct influence on reading comprehension. Early interventions to facilitate language development appear to provide a promising approach to facilitate the later development of reading comprehension skills.
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