The Reading Road is our own instructional program. Its transformative and progressive design, informed by sociolinguistic research, has raised achievement levels and reading motivation of early learners in West Philadelphia elementary schools


  • Introduction to the basic sound-to-letter correspondences of the English alphabet
  • Activities for focusing children’s attention on the more complex, many-to-one and one-to-many, sound to letter correspondences.
  • Narratives illustrated in full color written with a controlled vocabulary on themes that engage the interests and concerns of inner city children
  • Take Home Stories narratives printed out as separate books for the student to take and read to folks at home.
  • The Detective Game: questions on the motivations and reasoning of the characters in the narrative to develop comprehension, in the style of high-stakes standardized tests
  • The Tower Game: diagnostic tests for each section to measure readers’ progress


The Reading Road is written for struggling readers in schools in low-income neighborhoods. Both style and content are aimed at the concerns and interests of children in communities that suffer from poverty, illiteracy and social conflict. The program has been used successfully with African American, Latino and White children in the 2nd to 5th grade who were one-to-two years behind in reading grade level. It has been particularly successful with the most discouraged and alienated readers.


The Reading Road provides readers with two “Mentors”: Tony and Tanya. They appear on many pages of the narratives with questions for the readers to respond to, building comprehension of the story line beyond decoding at the word level. No matter where readers start in the IRM, they begin with the Introduction to Tony and Tanya, where Tony explains how he became interested in reading.