The Dolch Word List is a list of words that appear regularly when reading. Because the words appear so frequently, it is very helpful in reading to be able to read these words from sight. That is, you look at the word and are able to read it without sounding it out first. You know the word the instant you see it. For example, with the word “it,” you don’t sound out the short /i/ sound and then the /t/ sound and blend them to make “it” –you just see the word and read “it.”
This list was compiled by Edward William Dolch, PhD, and published in his book “Problems in Reading”’ back in 1948. He made the list based on the most commonly used words in children’s literature. Surprisingly, the list is still very relevant today (see Fry’s 300 Word List for a comparison).
The list includes: adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, and verbs. A separate list of nouns is also given. Ideally, all of these words should be learned by the end of first grade. The words should be instantly recognizable in all types of print and stories, so be sure to not just use flashcards, but a variety of stories and different sizes and fonts as well.
Dolch list: Non-nouns
Pre-primer: a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you
Primer: all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, but, came, did, do, eat, four, get, good, have, he, into, like, must, new, no, now, on, our, out, please, pretty, ran, ride, saw, say, she, so, soon, that, there, they, this, too, under, want, was, well, went, what, white, who, will, with, yes
1st Grade: after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, giving, had, has, her, him, his, how, just, know, let, live, may, of, old, once, open, over, put, round, some, stop, take, thank, them, then, think, walk, were, when
2nd Grade: always, around, because, been, before, best, both, buy, call, cold, does, don’t, fast, first, five, found, gave, goes, green, its, made, many, off, or, pull, read, right, sing, sit, sleep, tell, their, these, those, upon, us, use, very, wash, which, why, wish, work, would, write, your
3rd Grade: about, better, bring, carry, clean, cut, done, draw, drink, eight, fall, far, full, got, grow, hold, hot, hurt, if, keep, kind, laugh, light, long, much, myself, never, only, own, pick, seven, shall, show, six, small, start, ten, today, together, try, warm
Dolch list: Nouns
apple, baby, back, ball, bear, bed, bell, bird, birthday, boat, box, boy, bread, brother, cake, car, cat, chair, chicken, children, Christmas, coat, corn, cow, day, dog, doll, door, duck, egg, eye, farm, farmer, father, feet, fire, fish, floor, flower, game, garden, girl, good-bye, grass, ground, hand, head, hill, home, horse, house, kitty, leg, letter, man, men, milk, money, morning, mother, name, nest, night, paper, party, picture, pig, rabbit, rain, ring, robin, Santa Claus, school, seed, sheep, shoe, sister, snow, song, squirrel, stick, street, sun, table, thing, time, top, toy, tree, watch, water, way, wind, window
(Dolch’s Word List is out of copyright).