Monday, March 7, 2011

Reading Kingdom

Teaching children ages 4 -10 to read and write up to a Third Grade level is a passion for the creators of the Internet based program, Reading Kingdom.   Dr. Marion Blank has created a great, easy to use program that contains the 6 essential skills needed to make reading "click". 

  • Sequencing
  • Motor Skills
  • Sounds
  • Meaning
  • Grammar
  • Comprehension
The program is child customized, and won't drag your child through learning words or concepts that they already know.  It is organized into six different levels that progress through some of the easier words to recognize, up to words that just don't follow phonics rules at all.  It builds on the phonics of how words sound and helps establish patterns used to decode words. 

I think it is important that you know our own reading journey, it may be like yours....

I must tell you that I am a parent that strongly believes in the teaching of phonics for reading and spelling skills.  I have used that method with all of my three reading children, and with the first two, it was a smashing success.  All of the 6 skills needed for reading success just clicked with them....  With Child 3....  I have been slamming my head into the proverbial brick wall, I have been at a total loss as to why phonics alone wasn't working with him as it had the others.

He can do the flash cards, he knows the sounds, but he can't "see" any of the two and three letter teams  inside the word.  When he starts to read a word that he doesn't "know", every single letter will be sounded out and often not the first sound of the letter, just one that he thinks goes there, and then the frustration starts.  This frustration has also affected his comprehension when he reads alone.  If left to read quietly, he won't remember what he read at all, because he has simply skipped the words he doesn't know.  If he reads aloud, the comprehension is great because we catch and help with the words he is stumbling on.

These being our day to day reading issues, I knew that he was not reading at grade level (3), he was comprehending there.... but the basic skill and fluidity of reading that should accompany that comprehension was very much lacking.

I was pretty anxious to see where an outside source placed his reading level at, and also hoped that the program would begin to fill some of the holes that he seemed to be falling through.....

We were given the program to review in January, and we started pretty much right away.  Hunter was able to skip the sequencing portion of the program, and moved straight into Letter Land.  While he at times found this portion tedious, it did a very good job of helping him remember letter placement on the keyboard.  It also helped him with some "b" and "d" discrimination issues.  It took him nearly a month to complete the work for Letter Land, and that was doing close to two sessions a day.  After a Skills Survey the program placed him in Level 1.  I was not surprised.  I was also very glad that it was starting him at the beginning. 

In our reading away from the program I have noticed an improvement.  Hunter seems to be "seeing" the little words that help you know HOW to pronounce the word that follows....  he is also "seeing" the combinations that make sounding out words a much easier process.  I also notice that the monotone voice that he has been reading with is beginning to disappear.  He is noticing punctuation and actually pausing at periods and commas before beginning the next thought.  Yet another milestone to happen during this first level, was the beginning of unprompted writing.  Prior to starting Reading Kingdom, Hunter would have rather chewed off his own arm, than write anything down on a piece of paper.  Now he is passing me notes in church, and is asking to write letters to family members.

These little improvements, only three books in to Level 1, make me hopeful for the progress that can be obtained in the Levels to come.

When I asked Hunter what things he liked about Reading Kingdom, he said, "I like how it just helps drive the words into your head.  If I don't know how to spell the word, it teaches me.  Now the words are like automatic, I can type them really fast.  I like the review that you can do after.  I like how you can pick the extra things you want to work on.  I really like the ones that I have to type the word, and the ones where I guess what word will become the word I am learning. I also like how I can go and check my progress and see how far I am and what words I learned. "
I enjoyed the programs self-sufficiency.  Our computer is in the kitchen, so frequently he would do Reading Kingdom while I prepared dinner.  This was helpful for there were a few times when the program sort of froze, and I needed to refresh the page.  ( This was probably my DSL not the program!)   I too enjoyed the repetition, I can clearly see how it is building reading success. 

The cost of Reading Kingdom  is $19.99 a month/ or $199.99 a year. (If you break that down to a daily cost, it is 55 cents a day.)  Please, if your reading story sounds like ours, do not let the price turn you away from this wonderful program.  They offer a 30 day free trial.... Take them up on it.  See if it will help your child.  They are passionate about literacy, and they want those who genuinely can not afford the program to contact them for an application for a scholarship.

Take the time to read some of  the other 99 reviews that were done on this product.  ( I don't expect you to read ALL of them!.... unless your mom has the kids for the weekend or something....) 
Many different families used Reading Kingdom and their experiences may help you decide if this is a tool you can use in your home to help your children read.

The Reading Kingdom was incredibly generous to the TOS Homeschool Review Crew.  We were all given a full year subscription ( for multiple children if needed) to their program for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been given, and I am not obligated to give a positive review. All the above opinions are those of family members who used this program.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to review our Reading Kingdom program...Please do keep us apprised of your son's progress in the program. And if you encounter any issues, please contact us
    ( There may be a simple problem that we can help with. We are also working to update the program to deal with any problems children might be having in using it, so your feedback is very important to us.

    We'll be featuring your review on our Facebook page --

    Thanks again.


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