"Good readers" have an explicit awareness of the sounds in words long before they read. As children mature and extend their familiarity with spoken language they extend their awareness of similarity and differences in words and sounds. This phonological awareness - the ability to break down language into smaller manipulative segments - is part of a child's development as an emergent reader.
Skilled readers identify words on the basis of letter patterns which they link to sound patterns to reveal meaning, and faced with complex unfamiliar words they fall back on syllabification, a crucial phonological skill.
People don't read without phonological awareness.
Morag Crawford Early intervention co-ordinator Renfrewshire Council, Paisley