Monday, March 7, 2011

TOS Review/ Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom takes a different approach to reading. 

They believe that phonics just doesn't work.

They say, "Put simply, if phonics worked, the word would be spelled "foniks." To get around this problem, phonics has almost 600 rules that are impossible to memorize and riddled with exceptions."

I agree with this to a certain extent. I think that for young readers, phonics is the way to go.

Reading Kingdom says that there are 6 skills to reading and writing success, and that phonics only covers one.

You can learn more about how Reading Kingdom is different than other programs by downloading this PDF.

After using this program for a while I can see the benefits. I have never been one to like the site word, or whole word approach, but I do know that there are many words that you can't sound out, and you must learn them some way.

When your child first starts out with this program, they will take an assessment test. This is to see where they need to be placed.

It is great that they can take this test. That way they don't have to waste their time doing things they already know.

If your child is new to reading, they will most likely start out in Letter Land and Seeing Sequences.



Here your child will learn where all of the letters are on the keyboard, and how to use the mouse.
This part can be frustrating to some children, as they must click, or type, the letters in a certain amount of time.

I did not like this. I think that for beginners there should not be a time limit. I can see a time limit a little further down the line, but not at first. It can really diminish a child's desire to do the program.

We had several days of crying with my son because he knew where the letters where, but just wasn't fast enough. He wanted to quit many times because of this, but I had him keep on. Now that he is past that point, he really likes this program. 

This part is essential however, as they need to know where all of the letters are on the keyboard in order to use the program. 

After they make their way through these levels, they will go into Reading level 1.

Here they will be asked to spell a word. If they know how to spell it, and can type it correctly, they move on to the next word.

If they do not know how to spell it, they will be shown how to spell it, and then there will be many chances to practice the word. (If your child already knows how to read fairly well, but has trouble spelling, this would be a great spelling program.)



Your child will match the word, and they will pick which word could become the word they are spelling.

This program almost seems more like a spelling program, rather than a reading program, but while my son is learning to spell these words, he is getting the vision of the word in his mind, so he can recognize that word in a book, and read it. So, it seems to work.

As your child progresses, the program is essentially the same, but he will be typing more words, and eventually sentences.


You can see the run down of all the levels here.

This program can be used by pre-readers, and any child who is not fluently reading yet. The age range really varies, as all children learn to read at different ages. 

I like the charts they have set up so you can see what level the child is on, and how he is progressing.

I also like the fact that there is no teacher preparation involved. The child simply logs on, clicks on the owl, and it will take them to their next lesson. The program tells them everything they need to do. 

And the colors are so bright and cheerful, and the characters are super cute. Children will love these aspects.

Reading Kingdom

I asked my son what he liked and disliked about Reading Kingdom, and this is what he said, "I like the typing, and I like that it is on the computer, and I just like all of it." 

My son is only 6, and if I had not reviewed this program, I probably never would have had him use it.
For one, I would have thought he was too young to learn site words, and two, I did not think there was a need for a sight word program.

I am happy to have had the opportunity to review this program because it has changed my mind a lot about how kids learn to read.

I am now convinced that children need both phonics and a sight word method.

My son likes Reading Kingdom, and every day he comes in to tell me that he learned to spell a new word! That is fun. He likes being able to read and spell words that he never thought he could.

It only takes about 5 minutes a day, 10 tops, and he is done. So it is very easy to implement into your already busy schedule.

I do recommend this program as a sight word supplement to your reading program.

I know that cost may be an issue, as it would be for me, so be sure to check out their scholarship offer at the end of this review.  I think that it is awesome that they offer help to those who may not be able to afford this program otherwise. That shows you how much they really care about your child learning to read.

In my opinion, your child needs to learn phonics as well, especially when they are first learning to read.

After they have started with phonics, this would be a great supplement to their reading program.

They will need to learn the sight words somehow, and this is a fun way to do that.

To top things off they are also practicing their spelling, so all in all, this is a good program.

If my son didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't have him doing it at his age. He is only 6, but he likes it, so we will continue to use this program.

I think it will be even more beneficial for him when he is a little older.

Be sure to check out what the other ladies of the Crew had to say about Reading Kingdom. 

I think a lot of us feel the same, that children need phonics as well, but that this program has some really great benefits that we didn't expect, so be sure to read all of the reviews.

Have fun reading!

Our Pricing:
You receive a free 30 day trial. After that, subscriptions to Reading Kingdom are $19.99/month (with no monthly minimum), or $199.99 per year. You can cancel your subscription at any time.
(It is only $9.99 for each additional child.)

Contact us for information on volume licensing discounts.
Our Pledge

We're passionate about promoting literacy and believe that every child has the right to learn to read. We don't want to turn anyone away.

Our Scholarship Program

So, if you can't afford to pay for the program, you can apply for our scholarship subscription which enables your child to participate in the program for free.

Bear in mind that we're a privately run company and make our money by your subscriptions, so if you can afford to pay, please do so, because your support enables us to continue to develop products and promote literacy.

To apply for our scholarship subsciption, please contact us and request a scholarship subscription application.


Education professionals contact us for educational pricing.


*I have received 1 year of Reading Kingdom, free, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, in return for my honest opinion. No other compensation has been given to me.*


Jennifer said...

I have one that taught himself to read with his own whole-word approach - phonics has never made any sense to him, and probably never will due to a severe auditory processing deficit. He's a beautiful reader, however. My other one is using a mix of whole word and phonics. He's more auditory than visual. While I truly don't see how you can read well without both, learning style is going to play a big part in how successful you are in reading with one approach over the other, IMHO. Reading Kingdom made reading fun, and that's a big part of it. I'm glad your son enjoyed it once he got past the typing glitch in the beginning. My boys liked it, too. They were ok with the typing, but then they probably have more computer experience than your son as they are 7 & 9, and we do use the computer for both school and fun quite a bit.

Monica said...

Dropping by from the CREW. I agree with you. I am a fan of phonics first and RK as a fun supplement!

Marie said...

Nice job Rodna! RK has worked well for us too but I wouldn't trade in my phonics just yet ;-) There must be a balance. I think RK is supposed to use some phonice (they call it sound on their chart) but honestly I didn't see any.

McMama said...

Dropping by from the Crew. My children enjoyed this program as well but getting through Letter Land wasn't always fun for my little guy either!

I am thankful to have been able to review this however! And you are right, it does wonders for spelling!!

Reading Kingdom said...

I'm stopping by to thank you for your review, Rodna! We really appreciate it.

I also want to clarify that the Reading Kingdom program is not a "sight word" program. It actually teaches 6 skills that Dr. Marion Blank, the Director of the Light on Literacy program at Columbia University and the creator of the Reading Kingdom, has determined are required for reading and writing success. One key skill is syntax, or the grammar that allows us to form sentences. Central to syntax is a group of words termed non-content words. These are words such as the, was, he, these, were, how, etc. which do not follow the phonics rules that are deemed to be the foundation for decoding words. So children are told that these are “exceptions” and very little teaching time is devoted to their mastery. However, contrary to what children are told, these words play a central role in the sentences we speak and read (e.g., see what the word “to” does to the following: the girl is walking the dog, the girl is walking to the dog.) Moreover, approximately 60% of the words on any page of print are made up of non-content words. In other words, children are being told that the majority of words on a page are “exceptions” that merit little consideration. Rather than ignore this group of words, the Reading Kingdom seeks to leverage their power to help young readers learn to read more quickly.

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