Resources for Improving Children's Ability to Read

Published in SEDL Letter Volume XI, Number 1, March 1999, Unlocking the Future: Early Literacy

Educators, policy makers, parents, and caregivers agree that reading is critical for success in life and that a combination of methods will help early readers develop the awareness, comprehension, and fluency to read. The network of regional educational laboratories, R&D centers, the America Reads Challenge program, and other education research organizations produce books, training modules, videos and other products that can help improve the teaching of reading and literacy education in your school or community.


Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children

In March 1998, the National Research Council (NRC) issued this report, which resolved some debates about the best method for teaching reading. The report paints an integrated picture of how reading develops in children, how its development can be promoted, and makes recommendations about literacy instruction in first through third grades, literacy development in preschool and kindergarten, education and professional development for literacy instructors, methods for teaching reading to speakers of other languages, resources to meet children's needs, and ways to address the needs of children with persistent reading difficulties.

Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children is available for $39.95 from:
National Academy Press
2101 Constitution Avenue NW Lockbox 285
Washington, DC 20055
(800) 624-6242

It may also be read online at

Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success

Drawing on the work of its groundbreaking March 1998 report, the National Research Council also produced this practical guide. Aimed at parents, teachers, and other child care providers, it offers specific activities and tools for helping children become successful readers. It addresses such key questions as, What are the key elements all children need to become good readers? What can parents and caregivers provide all children so they are prepared for reading instruction by the time they enter school? What should you say to state and local policy makers who influence early reading instruction? What concepts about language and literacy should be included in beginning reading instruction? How can we prevent reading difficulties, starting with infants and continuing into the early grades? Starting Out Right includes accomplishment checklists for preschool through third grade, a variety of activities for children, a list of recommended children's books, a guide to software and CD-ROMs, and a list of Internet resources.

Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success is offered by:
The National Academy Press
2101 Constitution Avenue NW
Lockbox 285
Washington, DC 20055
(800) 624-6242

or visit the National Academy Press Web Bookstore at

Every Child Reading: An Action Plan

This report was published in June 1998 by The Learning First Alliance, a consortium of 12 leading national education associations. It provides a concise, easy-to-read outline of research and best practices in reading. While an action plan offers many techniques and reforms, it emphasizes that piecemeal reforms are unlikely to work on their own. Rather, it is the appropriate combination of these methods and techniques that can significantly increase children's reading success. The research is summarized in the following sections: prekindergarten and kindergarten programs, beginning reading programs, second grade and beyond, older nonreaders, and English language learners. The paper concludes with an action plan for teaching every child to read. Every Child Reading: An Action Plan is available 5 copies) from
The American Federation of Teachers
555 New Jersey Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001

The entire report can also be downloaded free of charge at

Building on the Best — Learning from What Works:
Seven Promising Reading and English Language Arts Programs

Published by the American Federation of Teachers in January 1998, Seven Promising Reading and English Language Arts Programs describes these programs: Cooperative Integrated Reading and Comprehension (CIRC), Direct Instruction (DI), Exemplary Center for Reading Instruction (ECRI), Junior Great Books (JGB), Multicultural Reading and Thinking (McRAT), Open Court Collections for Young Scholars (OC), and Success for All (SFA). Each program profile starts with an overview including grades covered, materials needed, professional development, and cost. More detail is also given in descriptions, main features, results, and case studies of each program. A list of resources is included for all programs.

Building on the Best—Learning from What Works: Seven Promising Reading and English Language Arts Programs is available in full text on the Web at:

Every Child a Reader Series

The Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) has developed an innovative series of six-page pamphlets covering the state of current reading research in such topics as early reading concepts, phonics and word recognition, comprehension, reading engagement, and schoolwide reading programs. Written for teachers and teacher educators, the series gives new teachers access to current research in clear, concise language and practical activities to use in their classrooms. Veteran teachers can use the topics to spark discussions among colleagues during the course of the year; teacher educators can build preservice activities introducing prospective teachers to the research and what works in real classrooms. A companion set of 18 articles selected and reprinted from The Reading Teacher is also available for use with Every Child a Reader.

Every Child a Reader is available from the University of Michigan/ CIERA for $10.00 per set of six pamphlets; boxes of 25 sets are $187.70 per box. Companion sets of articles are $16.00 per set of 18 reprinted articles. In Michigan, add 6 percent sales tax or provide tax exemption number; shipping outside the United States, add $1.00 per copy.

Visit the Web site at or contact
Every Child a Reader
CIERA/University of Michigan
610 E. University Avenue
Room 1600 SEB
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259


America Reads Web site:

This Web site provides access to valuable publications and resources for use by families and teachers to help children learn to read. Just Add Kids is a resource directory of learning partners, reading sites, and other literacy organizations serving children and their families. Another resource available from the America Reads Web site is the READY*SET*READ Early Childhood Learning Kit. This kit includes an early childhood activity calendar and growth chart. Another useful publication available at this site is Simple Things You Can Do to Help All Children Read Well and Independently by the End of the Third Grade. The America Reads Web site is maintained by the U.S. Department of Education and gives easy access to reports and programs developed by the department.

Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement Web site:

The Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) develops and disseminates theoretical, empirical, and practical solutions to problems in the learning and teaching of beginning reading. This Web site includes news about CIERA research, online research presentations, a calendar of relevant upcoming events, a collection of printed reports, and a family literacy bibliographic database. The site also includes additional information about CIERA researchers and projects as well as a comprehensive listing of Internet sites devoted to reading, literacy, and education research.

This list of resources was compiled by SEDL Office of Institutional Communication and Policy Services staff members, including information associate James Foster, OICPS director Joyce Pollard, and information specialist Lacy Wood.

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