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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All About Reading Review


How do I love everything I've ever used from All About Learning?  Let me count the ways!  All About Learning began with All About Spelling, a product I reviewed years ago and loved at first try.  (Click here to read my All About Spelling Review.)  We still use it to this day.  Then, they began developing beautiful children's readers in anticipation of their new reading program.  I also reviewed those books, and they were such high quality and just so beautiful, I was beyond impressed.  So of course, when the chance to review their new All About Reading program came up, I basically BEGGED to be chosen to review it.

I should start by saying all 3 of my older children (who learned to read before All About Reading existed) have used the exact same reading program with fine results, but that my one complaint with that program was that it did not teach ALL the sounds a letter can make, so after learning to read, they still didn't know any of the rules for WHY words were pronounced and spelled the way they were.  But I loved the simplicity of that program, which required very little teacher prep, and I also knew I wasn't up for some of the profoundly complicated systems out there.  All About Spelling was a perfect way for them to fill that spelling void, but it meant that my older students were having to go back to remedial reading levels to learn some of the basics of spelling that they didn't learn when they learned to read.  So even though I had begun my youngest daughter on the same program her siblings had used, I knew that it wasn't ideal since it meant she too would have to backtrack.  And THAT is why it was a no-brainer for me to switch her, even mid-stream, to All About Reading.

All About Reading is everything I love about All About Spelling and more!  Each lesson is completely scripted for you, the teacher, so after you initially set up your materials, prep work is virtually non-existant.  Everything you need to know, do, and say is provided for you in the Teacher's Manual.  All the lesson specific materials your student needs are in the Blast Off to Reading book.  In addition to those two resources, the program uses manipulative letter tiles and the yellow phonogram cards and green word cards you can see pictured above to help your child learn through sight, sound, and touch.  The final component is the three beautiful, hard cover readers you can see pictured above too.

Lessons begin with students learning the initial sounds of a few phonograms.  They then learn to combine these sounds together to read simple vowel-consonent-vowel words.  Before moving on, each new lesson reviews the sounds already covered and some of the words already read.  Indexed tabs for your cards help organize them by what is not-yet-covered, what is mastered, and what needs to be reviewed. 
The Deluxe Kit (above), which I received, even has a beautiful box to keep all the cards in, as well as a tote that comes in very handy to keep all the materials together.  After your student reviews the cards with you, you move on to the new material.  Some days, it is reading a story or two from one of the readers.  Other days, new sounds are taught.  Words are built with the letter tiles (which are laminated, and can be turned into magnets and used on a large dry-erase board), making it easy to change m-a-t to b-a-t and then b-a-d, etc.  Often, there are supplemental activities in the Blast Off to Reading book, including pages of words, phrases, and sentences to practice for fluency.  The lessons are short enough not to be taxing to the student and the activities provide reading reinforcement that is so much fun, it doesn't seems like work.  The last thing your child does is places a sticker on their progress chart to keep track of their acheivement in completing each lesson.  This placing of the sticker on the chart has become my daughter's favorite thing to do!

 The Pros:  Okay, I know I'm totally not being impartial, but I LOVE this program.  See that little girl in these pictures?  That's my youngest.  You know what she used to do every day when it was time to do reading?  Cry, and whine, and say, "No Mommy, please, not reading".  Now, she's a changed child.  She loves to do her reading lessons.  She loves the activites, like the one above, that keep her practicing when she doesn't even know she's "working".  I love that the program uses the same letter tiles that my older kids are using for spelling, and the same format to each lesson, so segueing from this to All About Spelling should be totally painless when that time comes, and since their are both by the same company, there shouldn't be any backtracking needed.  That makes me a happy momma! 
 See these smiles?  They are real-I didn't tell her to smile.  She's so pleased with herself that she can read these real books with real stories.  The books are a treasure.  They are high quality, and use a non-glare paper to make it easy on the eyes for beginner readers.  The text is lightly underlined to make it easier to track in the sentences.  Each page features hand drawn illustrations and has the look of an old-time scrapbook.  These aren't toss-away readers, they are heirlooms, and they show your child through their quality that you value the work your child is doing in learning to read.  All About Reading has ignited in my daughter a love for reading!

The cons:  The ONLY thing I would say is that the program is that Level 1 moves a little fast IF you try to jump into it before your child is ready.  There is an earlier level that is for Pre-K and Kindergartners, and that would be the best choice if your child is not really ready to read.  And each child is different, so please, accept your child for where there are no matter what their age, not where you want them to be.  Of my four children, three were late readers.  I'd have loved, just once, to be the mom gushing that my 4 year old read War and Peace, but that was not God's plan for any of my children.  Because each step in reading builds on the previous one, be sure your child has mastered the idea before moving on! This was the perfect level for my daughter, but she had had some previous reading instruction and lots of "letter sound" work, so she has been able to consistantly move ahead, but I know with my oldest child, he would not have moved nearly as quickly through the lessons.

 The Bottom Line:  I've reviewed a LOT of homeschooling products.  And yet, through the years, I've become an affiliate for only two companies because I don't give my allegience and wholehearted recommendation lightly.  All About Learning, the parent company of All About Spelling and All About Reading, is one of those two companies.  I LOVE their materials, and they are committed to helping you and your child succeed.  In fact, All About Reading offers a "Go Ahead and Use It" one year guarantee, so you can use it for a full year and return it if it didn't work for you. You know why they can do that?  Because they know it WILL work for you.  They create "Programs that teach thoroughly so your child can succeed amazingly".  I can't recommend All About Reading highly enough, and I hope Level 2 is ready soon, because we will definitely be buying that when it's available. 

All About Reading products can be found HERE.  Just click on the "All About Reading" tab.  The Level 1 kit contains the Teacher's Manual, the student packet which includes Blast off to Reading, and three readers- Run, Bug, Run!, The Runt Pig, and Cobweb the Cat.  It is $99.95.  The Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit adds on the letter tiles, magnets for the tiles, the Basic Phonograms CD, Reading Divider Cards, Reading Review Box, Reading Tote Bag, and Smiling Star Stickers for $48.95.  The Basic Interactive Kit, which does not have the box, the tote bag, or the stickers, is $28.95.  Each Interactive item can also be ordered individually, which is handy for All About Spelling users because they will already have many of the materials needed. 

To read what other members of the TOS Crew had to say about Level 1 go HERE.  (Or, if you have a younger child, some Crew members reviewed Level Pre-1 last year.) 

Legal Disclosure:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received the the Level 1 Reading Kit and Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit for FREE for the purpose of being able to provide my honest review.  I also have an affiliate relationship with All About Learning because I love their products, we use them daily, and they have transformed my children's spelling and reading.
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Alaina said...

Hi I just found your blog while looking into all about reading. This year I am using all about spelling with my first grader, do you think for second grade i should use the spelling and the reading curriculum or does this reading curriculum cover enough? Do you use both at the same time? Thanks, Aaina

Melissa said...


I am just beginning my homeschooling journey with my oldest who will be in K this coming fall. I am really interested in All About Reading, and after reading your review, I am just about sold! What is the best way to find out what level I should start out on? And as the comment above mentioned, do I need to do All About Spelling too, or does All About Reading incorporate it? Thanks for any help you can give!

Melissa said...

I am not sure if my previous comment/questions went through? Did they?

oneblessedmamma said...

You will need to do All About Spelling and All About Reading both. I probably won't explain it well, but AAR focuses on the sounds letters make and how blending them together produces words or how to look at a word and break it down by sounds to say it, and AAS focuses on the sounds you hear in a word and how to break that down to be able to spell it. There is some overlap, but that just means that they will augment each other and help you child move faster through both.
I don't have personal experience with it, but if you go to this link:
you can see some samples of what is covered by the Pre K/K level. That should help you make your decision as to which level is best. Best of luck, and I know you won't regret trying AAR and AAS, but remember they have a "try it out" guarantee too, so you have nothing to lose!