My journey in the field of teaching phonics began over 40 years ago when as an inner-city high school English and reading teacher, I was confronted with obviously bright and motivated students who somehow had failed to learn to read successfully in their previous years in school. In 1977 I opened a reading clinic in a church basement during after-school hours with the conviction that these students were capable of becoming good readers if they could have access to the proper instruction in phonics.
Most phonics programs are written for young children in preschool through the second grade. These programs are not appropriate for students beyond the second grade. The few programs I was able to find back then that had been developed for older students were either inadequate for various educational reasons and/or too expensive for my students to be able to purchase. Unfortunately many of these very same limitations remain in place today.
I discovered that there exists an entire education industry designed to serve the needs of affluent students who are struggling academically due to poor reading skills. These students are being helped through exposure to systematic, multisensory phonics instruction; however, for many other children as well as most adults with low reading skills, these materials and tutoring services available are often beyond their economic reach. I wondered why so often it seemed that only the affluent were able to consult with reading specialists and access reading programs that are thoroughly grounded in the science of reading. I knew that there must be a way to offer research-based, multisensory phonics instruction published in a format that virtually anyone could afford to purchase and that could be implemented without expensive and prolonged training for teachers, parents, and tutors. And so I began to develop the We All Can Read Program.
When I began to develop the We All Can Read Program, I had these specific goals:
- Publish a research-based phonics program suitable not only for young children but most especially for older students and adults as well, a group too-often overlooked and underserved in terms of having access to suitable, age-appropriate, and effective multisensory phonics material.
- Develop a program that anyone could use to teach basic reading skills: teachers, parents and tutors. One does not have to be a reading specialist in order to offer effective and research-based reading instruction to struggling readers.
- Use technology to make it possible for older students and adults without access to a tutor or teacher to be able to teach themselves to read and spell on their own.
- Finally and most importantly, I wanted to publish a program that works!
Now well over 40 years later and after working with thousands of individuals, I know with sure certainty that with the proper phonics instruction, we all can read!
We All Can Read Is a Tool for Changing Lives