Reading Reform Foundation of New York has adhered to its original mission: to improve reading instruction for all children.

The Approach

The Approach

What is this successful approach?

Students are taught the written form of the sounds of English, which they then put into words. This makes English logical. As the students write the words, they learn the approximately two dozen spelling rules that govern English. The students also learn to examine words for their roots and meanings, allowing for more thoughtful reading and better comprehension.

When invited by school principals, Reading Reform Foundation consultants show classroom teachers who have taken a course with us how to use these phonics-based approaches, as well as how to employ the multisensory techniques of teaching and learning that make learning so much easier for the students.

This means that the students simultaneously see, say, hear and write everything they are being taught.

Our approach includes both an in-school program and informative courses for teachers.

Developing Vocabulary

A wonderful way to increase children's vocabulary is to read to them stories that are above their reading AND speaking level. All children from first grade on enjoy hearing about knights in armor, King Alfred, King Arthur and tales of Robin Hood. It is more pleasurable to read fluidly to the children, even for five minutes a day, and not interrupt for analysis. Since comprehension depends upon word meaning, the adult reading to the child can take care of this before the reading session by anticipating words that the student will hear and needs to know the meaning.

Some Sample Lesson Plans for Teachers

An Introduction to Prefixes and Roots: Lesson I
This lesson introduces the prefix "pre" and common examples of frequently used root words. It is appropriate for all elementary grades.
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An Introduction to Prefixes and Roots: Lesson II
This lesson introduces the prefix "post" and common examples of frequently used root words. It includes a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet. The lesson is appropriate for all elementary grades.
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An Introduction to Prefixes and Roots: Lesson III
This lesson introduces the prefixes "un" and "dis". It discusses syllables and includes a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet. The lesson is appropriate for all elementary grades.
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An Introduction to Prefixes and Roots: Lesson IV
This lesson introduces the root word "scribe" and frequently used prefixes. It discusses syllables and includes a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet. The lesson is appropriate for all elementary grades.
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Recommended Books For Children To Read On Their Own


Random House:

This is a well-written and illustrated series. The stories contain interesting, little-known facts.

Christopher Columbus
A Step 2 book - grades 1-3

The True Story of Pocohontas
A Step 2 book - grades 1-3

There are approximately 44 titles in Step 2.

Abe Lincoln's Hat
A Step 3 book - grades 1-3

George Washington and the General's Dog
A Step 3 book - grades 1-3

There are many more titles in Step 3.

Grosset and Dunlap, Penguin Group, 2008

Who Was Queen Elizabeth?

Grade 3
There are approximately 40 titles of famous historical figures in this series.

Pointers for Parents

Reading Reform Foundation gratefully acknowledges the work of Emily Goldberg and Sylvia Goldsmith in creating Pointers for Parents, a guide for helping prepare children for reading.

Sylvia Goldsmith and Emily Goldberg were two of the founding members of Reading Reform Foundation of New York. Based on their deep understanding of the teaching of reading, they developed a learning kit for beginning readers called alpha-read.

We are pleased to share these with pointers with parents, who are the child’s first teachers and whose home is his or her first school.

Talk to your child

Reading and writing are part of language. Teach your child language by talking to him or her. Children must be able to speak in whole sentences if they are to be competent in reading and writing.

Children learn by copying. Be a role model. Speak clearly and pronounce words carefully. Talk to your child about what you see when you are together.

Teach the names of the days of the week and the months of the year. Explain how things work. Find out yourself if you don't know (no parent can know everything). Stimulate your child's mind and develop thinking with simple family games, word games, guessing games, riddles and rhyming words.

Watching too much television may prevent your child from developing the important ability to make pictures in his or her mind's eye while reading. Television also does not give children the chance to speak and express themselves clearly and thoughtfully.

Read to your child

Reading to your child helps him or her to learn language. Choose books your child enjoys. When you read to him or her, talk about the pictures in the book. Don't read books which frighten. If your child wants you to read the same book over and over, that is all right. Eventually he or she will move on to other books.

Teaching your child

You want your child to feel he or she can learn.

  • Teach him or her simple things yourself.
  • Teach only one thing at a time.
  • Teach only what is easy for your child.
  • Teach for only a few minutes. Then stop teaching for awhile.
  • If your child has difficulty, stop teaching and try again another time.
  • When your child learns what you have taught, give him or her praise.
  • Don't be concerned if your child forgets what you have taught. Teach it again and eventually your child will remember.
Letters have sounds

Teach that the letters have sounds and that when you put the sounds together, you make words. While your child needs to know the names of the letters and the sequence of the alphabet, this will not help him or her learn to read. The sounds of the letters will help.

Do only a little bit of this teaching at a time, and don't push the teaching if your child seems puzzled or restless. Different children are ready for this idea at different ages.

When your child wants to learn to read

Success is important for your child's self-esteem. Don't ask your child to do things that you know are too difficult. Instead, plan the task step-by-step, teaching the easiest things first, slowly and thoroughly.

Teach the sounds of the letters in this order:

a, t, m, s, l, c, d, i, g

As soon as your child has learned two or three sounds, have him or her put the sounds together for spelling and reading:

  • For example, with a, t, and m you and your child can spell and read the following words:  at, am, mat.
  • After teaching a (as in apple), teach seven or eight consonants before teaching another vowel. Teach confusing consonants far apart: (g-q), (b-d) or (m-n).
  • Teach short e last.
Teach the most useful sounds of the letters first

Here are the sounds which will help your child learn to read:

a (as in apple) n (as in nail)
b (as in ball) o (as in octopus)
c (as in comb) p (as in pencil)
d (as in dog) q (as in queen)
e (as in elephant) r (as in ring)
f (as in fork) s (as in soap)
g (as in gold) t (as in table)
h (as in hat) u (as in umbrella)
i (as in igloo) v (as in violin)
j (as in jeep) w (as in watch)
k (as in key) -x (as at end of box)
l (as in lemon) y (as in yarn)
m (as in monkey) z (as in zipper)


If you talk and read to your child when he or she is young, you will be helping your child learn language. If you teach that letters have sounds and that these sounds combine to make words, you will be teaching the most important thing your child needs to know in order to learn reading. He or she will be well on the way to success in reading.

© Copyright 1991

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Highlights From: Stages of Reading Development

By Jeanne Chall. McGraw Hill Book Company, 1983

Jeanne S. Chall, Ph.D., Professor of Education at Harvard University, wrote what may be the definitive book for all time on the teaching of reading.

She emphatically states that the beginning reading method is extremely important.

“Does the reading method matter? Considerable research evidence indicates that a ‘code emphasis’, that is, an emphasis on learning the printed words and letters that stand for spoken words and sounds, makes a difference in how a child accommodates to reading. Generally it has been found to be more effective for most children than methods that put first emphasis on the meaning of what is read. ‘Code emphasis’ makes possible the earlier development of insights into the relation of print and speech - the key cognitive restructuring needed for Stage 1. Generally, children taught by meaning emphasis (or sight method) in Stage 1 make a slower progress.” (Chall, 1967)

But she also outlines six stages of reading development that are essential. Professor Chall makes a plea for massive reading experience and systematic vocabulary development.

“More emphasis needs to be placed on reading of expository materials in the content areas - history, science, civics, health, careers, and so on.” p.96

This, she suggests, is to be done instead of reading short, narrative selections. Professor Chall also questions whether we are not having students do too much silent reading with written tests. She points to research that supports the beneficial effects of oral reading.

A sensible, many-faceted approach to the teaching of reading that cites research and is written in exemplary English, this book is worthy of reading and rereading. The quote that follows illustrates this:

“No evidence suggests that too many highly literate and highly educated people are a burden to society.”

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Our Handbook

Sunday Is for the Sun, Monday Is for the Moon:

Teaching Reading, One Teacher & Thirty Children at a Time

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What People Are Saying

"Thank you for the children's dictionary I really like it because now I don't have to use the computer to look up words for my homework."

—Third-grade student, Brooklyn

Upcoming Courses

Reading Reform Foundation offers courses all year round which model the techniques of our approach to teaching. Participants may be certified teachers, administrators or parents. Classes are held in our conveniently located headquarters, one half-block west of Columbus Circle.

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