Dyslexia · Reading

How I Personalize All About Reading for Success with My Dyslexic Learners

When my kids were in 2nd grade, we reached what felt like a crisis point with reading. I was dragging them through All About Reading, but it felt entirely like dragging. Every day’s reading time was miserable, and every day was frustrating to the point of meltdown.

I was beyond overwhelmed, so I did some searching to find someone in our local area who could take an objective assessment of what was going on and point us toward the right fix.

The right fix turned out to be a program that addressed an underlying lack of phonological awareness, and it changed everything for the good.

Once our program was completed, I stressed over what reading program we should use. After going over the options many, many times, I landed back on All About Reading. I knew that I needed to make some tweaks, though, to incorporate more of what we had been successful with in the tutoring program and to slough off the elements of the program that weren’t serving us.

My tweaks certainly aren’t right for everyone, but maybe you’ll find some ideas here that will help you tailor All About Reading to your child’s needs, too.

How I Personalize All About Reading for My Dyslexic Learners6 Ways I’ve Personalized All About Reading for my Dyslexic Learners:

1. I don’t use the cards as directed.

When I struggled to understand how we could have made it into level 2 of AAR without *really* being able to decode much of anything, the learning center director suggested that my highly intelligent kids had been memorizing a picture of the flashcard words they seemed to be mastering. Aha.

For now, we’re not using the flashcards at all, but I do see their value for developing fluency (we’re just using other tools to develop fluency right now). For developing fluency, try gathering a collection of 20-30 word cards. Lay them out in rows, and run through them every day until the collection can be read without errors in no more than 60 seconds for 30 words.

2. I don’t use the letter tiles.

The letter tiles were a distraction. The letter tiles were an annoying mess. The app might be a nice alternative, but I’ve found that writing the letters, rather than just scooting tiles around, makes stronger learning connections for my kids.

Now, we DO use the syllable tags. But it’s so much easier to keep up with a baggie of those than the hot mess of a million (give or take) tiles sloshing around and off of a magnetic whiteboard.

AAR syllables

3. We add a spelling component.

It’s one thing to decode. But if you can encode (spell/write) a new pattern, that’s a good boost toward REALLY getting it. So every day that we work on a given lesson, I’ll give my kids words from the fluency sheets to spell.

4. We add another passage to boost fluency.

One of my favorite pieces of advice from Sally Shaywitz’s wonderful book Overcoming Dyslexia is her suggestion to employ multiple readings of a reader’s theater script or poem to develop fluency.

Around here we’ve had good results with scripts I found on Teachers Pay Teachers with a search for “small group reader’s theater.” There are some reader’s theater selections available on Amazon, but they all seem more geared toward a classroom setting, as they feature lots of characters.

5. We use AAR words in our handwriting practice.

As part of our daily morning time, I prepare a page in each child’s handwriting-dedicated spiral notebook. The words, phrases, and sentences come straight from the AAR lesson the child is working on and give practice in both print and cursive. After I’ve checked their work, the kids read the page back to me. It’s one more chance to practice those new patterns and work toward automaticity.

AAR handwriting

6. We read the stories at least three times.

I know I’ve used the words fluency and automaticity over and over here, but when it comes to dyslexia, it’s impossible to understate just how important fluency is.

One reading of a story isn’t enough. And, honestly, I don’t think two readings is quite enough, either. It’s worth it to invest the instructional days in reading a story at least three times to work towards that all-important goal of fluency.


Did you find some suggestions here that you could use? Do you use some of your own All About Reading tweaks? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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