I wrote before about three books on teaching reading, and my favorite of the bunch.
So why did I switch from that approach and begin using All About Reading? Originally I had intentionally avoided this program, but ultimately ended up giving it a try when G stalled out with the reading book I was using.
The results? It’s been fantastic. G loves it, it’s working well, it’s easy to use – it’s absolutely great. Great, but not perfect…
What do I not like about AAR?
It’s expensive. Level 1 is $100, plus you have to buy an interactive kit for another $22. Level 2 is another $100, and Levels 3 and 4 are each $120 (at least you only have to buy one interactive kit). The Pre-Reading Level is “only” $80, or $120 if you want the deluxe version. That’s … a lot of money for one subject, albeit a very important one.
It’s only partially reusable. I mean, I buy Sonlight for my son, and that’s not the cheapest homeschooling option out there, but it’s almost completely reusable. With two other children following, suddenly that Sonlight price tag seems a lot better when I think about using it three times. With AAR, some parts are reusable, but I have to buy each child their own activity book: that’s $17 each for the Pre-Reading Level and Level 1, $20 for Level 2, and $30 for Levels 3 & 4. Adding it all, it’ll be $542 for G, and another $114 for each of the girls. For all three kids, that will be $542 + $114 + $114. That’s almost $800 just for reading instruction. Ayi yi yi.
Update: Heather noted below in the comments that the activity books include permission to copy for household use, and that means that you could reuse everything. It would mean lots of little pieces to keep track of until your next student needed them, but it’d definitely save some money.
I hate having to pay for shipping. I am so used to places offering free shipping if you order over a certain amount, but AAR doesn’t do that. So when I ordered one level, it was another $10 for standard shipping.
They don’t include the stickers with the student packet – you have to remember to buy that separately. The activity book includes a chart set up to use the stickers to track the student’s progress, but the stickers aren’t automatically included. They’re only $1, so really, could they not have included them already? That’s super annoying – just include them in the student packet already!!
What do I like about AAR?
Everything else. No, seriously, it’s a fantastic program. It’s fun for G – he went from not wanting to do reading from that book to LOVING reading lessons. We flew through level one because he’s enjoyed it so much.
It’s also super easy for me to use. I began it in earnest when I was in my final weeks of pregnancy, feeling brain dead and exhausted. I did not have the energy to come up with ways to make learning more fun and engaging, and wanted an open-and-go program. This is that. The most challenging part was keeping the kids out of it until I got it all set up – magnets on the letter tiles and phonogram and word cards separated out and put into their box.
G loves the word cards, and the stories in the reading books – they’re just hard enough to push him a bit, but still all very readable as it’s so incremental.
He loves the stickers. I am continually amazed at just how motivating it is for him to be able to put a sticker on his chart when he finished another lesson.
He loves the variety of activities in the book – there’s lots of cutting which he adores (and any coloring is optional, which is perfect since he hates coloring), and then every option has been fun for him. Making word flippers, feeding the monster, even flipping the eggs have all thrilled him. No joke.
(The only thing he doesn’t love? The fluency sheets. We do them all, but that’s the only time I’ve had to start thinking of ways to make it more interesting for him / break them up a bit. And apparently we’re not alone in that, since AAR’s blog recently posted some ideas for fluency sheets.)
So, do I recommend AAR? Yes, absolutely, with some caveats.
- Yes, I recommend it in that it has been fantastic for us, and is working well to develop in G a love of reading.
- Yes, it’s been so easy to use for me (a huge priority right now).
- Yes, it’s piqued H’s interest and she’s excited to try it herself.
- Yes, because solid reading skills are one of the most important things I want to develop in my kids – not just skills, but a love for it too – I think it’ll help with everything else school-related through the years if they’re excellent readers who also read for fun.
- Yes, because even if you have no phonics background (ahem, that would be me) you can still use the program and teach your child using that method.
So why the hesitation to give a wholehearted recommendation?
I wouldn’t say it’s a “MUST HAVE” because of those drawbacks to it. It is expensive, and you don’t NEED it to teach your child(ren) to read. If you’re creative you can come up with lots of ideas for ways to make reading lessons more engaging and appealing. Scan Pinterest and you’ll see tons of suggestions you can adapt to your own situation.
If you’re not a crafty mom, and your mental energy goes other places than towards coming up with literacy-type games and all of that? This program is wonderful. I hope it continues to work this well, and if it does, I imagine I’ll be getting all the levels.
Disclosure: Unlike virtually every other review post I’ve seen online regarding All About Reading, I did not get mine for free. I bought it and we’ve finished Level 1, and have just started Level 2. I plan to buy Levels 3 & 4 if 2 continues working so well and they seem necessary. That said, I did sign up for their affiliate program and this post contains affiliate links. If you decide you’d like to try the program and click on my link, I’ll get a commission at no extra charge to you. And then I’ll use it to buy more books or homeschool supplies. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!