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Children’s skill at recoding graphemes to phonemes is widely understood as the driver of their progress in acquiring reading vocabulary. This recoding skill is usually assessed by children’s reading of pseudowords (e.g., yeep) that represent “new words.” This study re-examined the extent to which pseudoword reading is, itself, influenced by orthographic rimes (e.g., eep) of words of the child’s reading vocabulary, during the development of reading skill. In Study 1, children with word reading levels of 6–10 years read matched pseudowords that do and do not share an orthographic rime with words of their reading vocabularies. Study 2 was conducted to further examine such a comparison for children of the 6- to 8-year word reading levels. There was a small and constant advantage of shared lexical orthographic rimes for children with reading levels 6–8 years but from 8 to 10 years that advantage increased significantly, as expected by Ehri’s phase account of word reading development. The pseudoword reading of children learning to read English involves use of lexical orthographic components as well as context-free recoding of graphemes to phonemes. This implies a qualification to the common interpretation of pseudoword reading as a measure of context-free grapheme–phoneme recoding. Such a measure should use selected pseudowords that do not share orthographic rime units or other multigrapheme components with words of the children’s reading vocabularies.

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Journal Article

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