Why It Works
proven school-based program
American Reading at Home is based on the award-winning program from American Reading Company used in thousands of schools across the country. Our teacher-vetted, parent-approved, and kid-friendly program combines best practices in classroom instruction with longstanding research-based methods to foster successful readers at home.
Our expert coaching tips for parents represent more than 20 years of real-world experience by a team of renowned reading specialists and lifelong literacy advocates. Visit American Reading Company to learn more about our research studies, testimonials, case studies, and test score results.
the parent-child connection
We like to be clear about what we are not. American Reading at Home is not a place-your-child-in-front-of-a-screen reading program. This isn’t to say that interactive games, apps, videos, and websites can’t help build reading readiness skills. They can! However, when a parent spends time one-on-one, side by side, listening to a child read, it brings a whole new level of interest, thinking, and engagement to the experience.
By taking an active role in teaching your child to read, you are setting an example of the value you place on reading. As your child progresses through each level of the program, you will experience your own “Aha!” moments together. You will be in tune with the specific needs of your child and this will make you the most effective reading coach your child could ever have.
the power of books
American Reading at Home uses actual books to teach reading. While this may sound like a no-brainer to many parents, our method stands in contrast to many other approaches that instead rely on repetitive workbook exercises and/or interactive activities/games. Using real books creates a context for learning that nurtures the young inquisitive mind. It also builds confidence in reading books right from the start, before a child can even read words. This isn’t to say we are anti-technology; nearly all of our books are also available as eBooks through our Bookshelf app so parents and children can access our specially designed books wherever they go.
using "books that fit"
Not unlike Goldilocks who likes things “just right,” children need books that are not too hard and not too easy. Extensive scientific research maintains that the rate of reading acquisition is optimized when books are at the appropriate “just right” level of challenge. All of our books are written in accordance with the American Reading Company Leveling System, which is built on the national Common Core State Standards for Reading. Books at each child-friendly, color-coded level meet the clearly defined requirements for the following:
What does the reader need to know and be able to do to understand the book?
What support does the text offer an independent thinker and problem-solver?
What challenges does this text present to a reader who is comfortable with other texts at this same reading level?
By selecting from “books that fit,” children can easily find books they can enjoy and read successfully—books that allow them to improve their reading through reading.
the power of choice
The breadth and depth of our titles provide children with an abundance of choice in deciding what book to read next. Choice is important to young readers because it instills a sense of ownership and pride in making decisions about learning to read. From marine life to sports to ecosystems to fictional tales about the family dog, our high-interest collections are designed to appeal to children ages 3-6. We recommend that parents maintain a comprehensive library of up to 25 titles at each reading level. Click here to learn more about our Complete Value Bundle that includes 75 titles across all reading levels.
embedded sight word practice
Most phonics-driven apps and websites use interactive activities to help children master basic phonics rules for sounding out words. These exercises can be helpful in learning letter sounds, understanding that words are comprised of letters, and using letter sounds to sound out simple words that follow phonics rules. But many words just don’t play by the rules, and this presents real hurdles for the true emergent reader.
Sight Words—we call them “Power Words”—are high-frequency, low-meaning words, most of which cannot be sounded out and thus must be memorized by sight (for example, the, of, these, are, here and is). The first 120 Power Words make up more than 50 percent of the words used in English text. Our specially designed books use Power Words (60 words in 1 Green Books and 120 words in 2 Green books) in repetitive and recurring sequences that provide tremendous exposure to these words in the context of complete sentences. Creating a natural context for these words enables children to use meaning as a basis to help store information (versus rote memorization).
Once mastered, these words provide “islands of certainty” from which the emergent reader can navigate the unknown with confidence.
reading is thinking
As children learn to decode text, our program encourages them to draw upon everything they know about the world around them. Is there a clue from the picture? What is happening in the story? What word would make sense here? Can I use a letter sound (or consonant blend) to help sound out the word I don’t know?
Our system supports the “reading is thinking” approach from the very beginning, before a child can even read words. Children aren’t just learning to read, but are learning to problem-solve. They will learn to take ownership of figuring out “tricky words” that they may not initially know. Because the books provide many support clues, your child will easily master and internalize successful problem-solving techniques. This underlying philosophy that permeates our coaching tips and approach to reading is what helps spawn the truly curious, inspired, and confident reader.
Works with any school program
Your child may already attend a school or preschool that uses either a phonics or whole language program to teach reading. We believe there is great value in both methods. The good news is that American Reading at Home can be easily integrated with either approach (or stand alone!) and certainly will not interfere with anything your child might be learning at school. We encourage you to share with your child’s teacher that you are using our program to provide your child with plenty of high-success reading practice at home. And based on your child’s advancements with the program, don’t be surprised if your teacher asks to borrow some books to use with the other children!