Homeschooling Update: Teaching Reading with All About Reading

All About ReadingI 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!


  1. You know I’ve been waiting for this! The thing that has held me back has been the price and the overseas shipping. BUT…we hit a huge reading roadblock and while I would be happy to let it work itself out, my young reader is frustrated that he isn’t reading better and wants to read more. But reading lesson has been hard and he still doesn’t seem to have the phonics really down, (which is frustrating for both of us). My husband and I both agree that reading is the one thing we want him to be solid on right now and last week we made the decision to stop what we were doing and I’m on the search to figure out a better approach for him. Right now it has been more frustrating than anything. I also am leaning toward this program because I know that with my second child (who hasn’t started reading), our current book (OPGTR), will not work as she is very tactile/visual. Anyway, thanks for the review. Definitely pondering this.

    • I think it’s a great program for tactile learners, between the letter tiles and all the activities. I really have been impressed with it, and love how it’s made it so fun for G. He wants to do reading lessons!

      I don’t know what shipping costs are for overseas, but if you order it from AAL, they offer a satisfaction guarantee – I think it’s a full year. That might make it easier to try it – at least you could get the product costs back if you determine it’s not a good fit?

      Rainbow Resource sells it, and they offer free shipping if you order $50, but that’s US only. Their international shipping costs are horrendous. Or maybe they’re typical, and I should just appreciate how good I have it living in the US and getting free or inexpensive shipping for almost anything. Also, ordering it that way you lose out on the satisfaction guarantee as well. That could be an option though if someone were coming to see you and was a really light packer and had space in their luggage?

      I would *not* recommend that you get the PreReading Level – it’s fine, but you can get things so easily online that do basically the same thing as far as letter and phonogram awareness.

      Also, if you’re looking at it and thinking about future users, they say that you’ll need a student pack for every one. I don’t think you do – just the activity book. You’d need a student pack for each student if you were teaching more than one the same level at the same time. Otherwise, you can reuse the word and phonogram cards from one student to the next. (For level one, it’s $25 vs. $17 to go with the whole student pack vs. just the activity book, but for level two it’s $38 vs. $20, and for levels three and four it’s $48 vs. $30. )

  2. This is interesting, I and others I know have used ABEKA to start our kids off in reading with such a great success that the next generation in the family is using it! I am open to new but what is wrong with the old? Just a thought…..

    • Nothing is wrong with the old if it is working! My only exposure to A Beka is through their website, which I found confusing, and knowing that one of the nearby private schools uses it. I never looked at it more closely after a quick glance led me to believe that it was workbook-heavy. If it’s working well for someone I’m happy to hear that and hope it continues to do so. 🙂

  3. I’m curious as to why you say you “have to buy each child their own activity book”; I’m planning to just photocopy a few of the consumable pages for my second child, so I don’t have to buy a new activity book for each one. I agree with what you say; the program is expensive enough as is without adding additional activity book costs. This is a quote from the inside cover of the activity book: “Permission is granted to the individual purchaser to photocopy the student materials in this book for non-commercial individual (household) use only.” I really like this program too, and only wish cost weren’t so expensive.

    • Because apparently I never noticed that copyright permission notice in the activity book. I’m feeling really brain-dead right now at not spotting that – usually I look for it.

      I’m going to console myself for that lapse in that it does provide lots of cutting practice, and if I’d have otherwise purchased a cutting book this can be used in lieu of that. But really, I just missed that they gave the ok for making copies of it.

      Thanks for the heads-up about it, and I’m going to edit the post to mention this in case anyone else misses it like I did.

      • I’ve been searching for a while looking to see if you could make copies or not! This is a really helpful post and comments! Thanks!


  1. […] All About Reading (AAR) has been very successful, and I’ve got some Bob books that I use for practice as well. […]

  2. […] Reading continues to go very well – we finished All About Reading Level 2 (I’ll share a full review of it in the next homeschooling update). The last 10 lessons took about three days G was so determined to finish so I’d order Level 3 and he could get started on it! We did take about a month’s break from lessons because of Christmas, and I just had him read other materials to keep in practice. We’re back at the lessons now though, and are working through Level 3. […]

  3. […] already mentioned how great I think All About Reading’s Level 1 is, in an post detailing its pros and cons. I somewhat reluctantly began it after stalling out with the original program I tried to use to […]

  4. […] All about Reading Level 1. In short: We love it! It’s fantastic! I’ve written about Levels 1 and 2 already, and will eventually share my thoughts on Levels 3 (which we’ve just finished) […]

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