When children are learning how to read, they must teach themselves how to decode the jumble of letters and spaces on the page. This means taking abstract things like sounds and letters and turning them into full words that mean something. Doing this successfully is not always an easy task. After learning how to read, decoding the sounds becomes automatic and does not require or produce any thought. The words are words and we, as adults, have made connections between that mix of letters and the thing that this word stands for. Children who are just learning how to read have not yet set this automatic response, so every new word that they encounter is a new puzzle that they must decode. Once they have mastered the decoding of this new word, they must learn the meaning behind it and remember it for next time.
Some children can pick up the decoding much easier than others because as they are going through the process, they realize that they must look for meaning behind the words. They know that they have to make sense of the letters that they are putting together to form a complete thought. When children can learn how to do this, learning to read will come much easier. For the children that do not understand this concept yet, reading is difficult because each letter and sound is a separate entity. Their decoding skills look at the sounds as different things and do not automatically put them together to form something completely new. Teaching children to decode correctly is an essential part of literacy learning.