All About Reading: How it Works for Our Family {a detailed review}

When I first began homeschooling, the responsibility that intimidated me more than any other was teaching my own children to read. I have always been an avid reader, and I desperately wanted to instill a love of reading in my kids. I realized very quickly, however, that my love of reading did not automatically qualify me to teach someone else HOW to read. Because I had no background in teaching reading, I knew I needed to find a program that could walk ME through the process as well as my child. We tried several different programs in the beginning, but they either bored my child to tears or proceeding so quickly that she felt overwhelmed, and I felt lost without a map.

That process brought me to All About Reading (AAR). I had always heard and read great reviews about the program, but was unsure if it was worth the expense. I hate to admit it, but I have a tendency to dismiss popular options in favor of little known treasures. In my desire not to follow the crowd, I never really considered AAR until I came to the hard realization that my daughter was not progressing in her reading, and that my lack of consistency and experience were partly to blame (cue: Mom Guilt).

Great, DETAILED review from a homeschool mom of 4 as well as a mom with a child with dyslexia. Great information to have about All About Reading!

In my search for a solution, I kept coming back to AAR (there’s a reason it is so popular!), so I finally gave in and decided to give it a try. After just a few lessons, I knew that I had found gold! Why did I wait so long to look into this awesome program? I love those moments when I stumble upon a curriculum and know without a doubt that I will always use that program for all my children.

PROS

There’s a lot of love about AAR. The lessons include multi-sensory components such as flashcards, activity pages, letter tiles, and games, which are perfect for different learning styles and also students with dyslexia (read a note at the end from Erin). There are tons of blogs that give more detail the research behind using AAR.. One of my favorites is this one from This Reading Mama.

I love the readers from AAR! My favorite thing about them is that they are actually decodable for the level the child is reading. For instance, have you ever picked up a level 1 reader at the library, only to find that it has words like “Pinkalicious” when your child is just learning to read “cat”?That is so frustrating! The AAR readers progress right along with the lessons in the book, so the child learns the phonetic rules before having to apply them to decoding. The illustrations are also beautiful and add to the stories.

I also love that the lessons are scripted. This means I don’t have to spend hours studying and preparing lessons or searching Pinterest for ideas. I can read through a lesson quickly the night before and then open-and-go. With four kids to homeschool, I appreciate any curriculum that does some of the leg work for me.

All About Reading may have the best customer service on the planet. Seriously. I’ve lost count of how many times I have called them with a question about the program or even just for encouragement when my child was struggling with a concept. You will talk to a real person who knows their stuff when it comes to teaching reading. Their website is also filled with articles addressing common struggles and suggestions for overcoming them.

CONS

The biggest con that kept me away for so long was the price! Each level is $119.95, plus a one time purchase of $21.85 for the interactive kit. There are definitely other reading programs available for a lower price which could give similar results. For me, the completeness of AAR makes it worth the cost. I don’t have to spend time searching for and printing off games or practice sheets, or searching the library for readers that are the correct level. And they offer a one year 100% money back guarantee, so you can use the program for a full year and then send it back for a refund if your child has not learned to read. I call that a win!

Another big drawback is that it cannot be done independently. If you are looking for a program that is not teacher intensive, this is not for you. Even though the lessons are scripted and don’t require much prep for the teacher, you WILL have to sit with your child and actually do every lesson with them. If your child is very independent or if you and your child butt heads a lot in school, this may not be the right fit.

There are a lot of components to the program, which can make it confusing to implement if you don’t have a great organizational system. Here is a great article from AAR with tips on how to organize everything so it works effortlessly.

Finally, I have found that some of the lessons and stories are very long. My kids love to put that sticker on their progress chart, but sometimes it takes several days to finish a lesson. This is not a big deal to me, but it is to them. They want to push through and finish reading a longer story, which sometimes leads to a meltdown when it keeps dragging on. My solution is to set a timer for 20 minutes and make sure they understand in advance that the lesson is over when the timer goes off.

PRICE

Levels 1-4 are $119.95 each, which includes one Teacher's Manual, one Student Packet, and all three readers.

You'll also need a Reading Interactive Kit, which is used in all four levels. The Basic Interactive Kit is $21.85 and includes Letter Tiles, Magnets, Phonogram Sounds App, and Divider Cards.

The Deluxe Interactive Kit is $43.85 and includes everything in the Basic Kit, plus Reading Review Box and Reading Tote Bag.

You can check out all of their products at www.allaboutlearningpress.com.

Final Thoughts

Of all the benefits of using All About Reading, perhaps the greatest has been how it has increased my confidence in teaching my children to read. I’m no longer intimidated by the responsibility, because I am now equipped with the tools I need. I have now used the pre-reading level, as well as levels 1-3 with my three younger children. With each child, I can tell that my understanding and ability has grown, and they are reaping the benefits.  I highly recommend AAR as a favorite choice in our homeschool, and I hope you will love it like we have!

Note from Erin about Dyslexia: Hi Friends! I wanted to tag a quick note onto Hayley's excellent review from a mom with a child with profound dyslexia. I also can not recommend AAR highly enough. We bounced from program to program as I learned the ins and outs of educating a dyslexic child with auditory processing disorder. The programs were either not Orton-Gillingham based (which is very important) or the lessons lasted for WEEKS (not days). For many of them, there was nothing kinesthetic involved, and I had to head over to Pinterest to figure that out myself. My daughter is now reading on grade level, independently, and I will use AAR with both of my boys without hesitation.