The Science of Reading

Discover the Science of How Children Learn to Read

Welcome to our Science of Reading Hub. First things first: What is the science of reading? The science of reading is an extensive and vast body of scientific research about reading—how children learn to read and how to teach reading.

At Zaner-Bloser, we recognize that each educator is at a different point in their journey to understand—and practice—the science of reading. The resources we have collected here in our Science of Reading Hub are meant to help you get to know the research and the concepts.

They are also meant to be shared and discussed. If you are championing the science of reading in your professional learning community, school, or district, we encourage you to use these videos, white papers, and other resources and to sign up to get our science of reading e-mail updates.

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Begin With the Basics

A vast body of research evidence collected over the past 40+ years—the science of reading— is both overwhelming and compelling. We know what it takes for reading development to occur.

This research reveals what happens in the brain during reading and what needs to take place instructionally to enable skillful reading. Two prominent theoretical models help us start to make sense of how children learn to read: The Simple View of Reading and Scarborough’s Reading Rope.

Within his brain, the child is literally building the neural circuitry that links the sounds of spoken words, the phonemes, to the print code, the letters that represent those sounds.

Following the Research Promotes Equity and Increases Academic Success

Reading is the single most important skill—the foundation—for all future learning. Failure to read on level by third grade impacts negatively on future academic success as well as on social and emotional development. Phonics is critical, but phonics alone is not enough to give all students the foundation they deserve.

How do children learn to read?...The answer is the same for all children. Cultural, economic, and educational circumstances obviously affect children's progress, but what they need to learn does not change. -Seidenberg, 2017, p. 101

Choose a Reading Program Aligned With the Science

Instruction, curriculum, and high-quality instructional materials matter. The Superkids solutions from Zaner-Bloser help teachers put the science of reading research into practice.

Comprehensive English Language Arts Curriculum

The Superkids Reading Program is a comprehensive curriculum crafted for grades K–2 using evidence-based literacy practices aligned to the science of reading.

This proven-effective program follows a unique, systematic, and explicit instructional path through engaging, increasingly complex text.

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90–120 minutes/day

Targeted Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, and Fluency Instruction

The Superkids Foundational Skills Kit for grades K–2 can supplement any core reading program or complement a balanced literacy framework by providing targeted instruction in foundational literacy skills.

Daily word work includes skill practice and application in decodable text.

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30–40 minutes/day

Daily Lessons and Intervention

The Superkids Phonemic Awareness curriculum for grades K–2 provides 180 daily lessons for building phonological and phonemic awareness skills—plus intervention activities.

Lessons are fun and playful, introduce skills with an I Do/We Do/You Do format, and complement any literacy curriculum.

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10–12 minutes/day

More Learning Resources for Educators

Ready to go deeper? When schools ask us what research to read and how best to build the staff’s knowledge of the science of reading, we suggest the resources we’ve collected below.

The Science of Reading: Evidence for a New Era of Reading Instruction

With evidence-based instruction, nearly everyone can learn to read. We must rely on the vast body of research—the science of reading—to determine what to teach and how.

Building a Strong Foundation for Learning to Read

The roadmap for teaching children to read begins with the foundational skills: oral language, vocabulary, print concepts/letter knowledge, phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency.

Building the Reading Brain

As studies from the fields of neuroscience and neuropsychology have accelerated, significant evidence has mounted underscoring the importance of reading basics for all students.

Preventing Reading Failure: The Right Instruction at the Right Time

What steps can educational leaders take to get ahead of reading failure? The answer lies in prevention.

The Science of Reading

This three-part Zaner-Bloser webinar series examines the “why,” “what,” and “how” of the science of reading. Learn about brain research, theoretical models of reading development, how evidence should inform instruction, and more.

Beyond Word Recognition: Invigorating Language Comprehension in the Science of Reading

In this five-part webinar series, we take a closer look at the essential subskills of the language comprehension side of the Simple View of Reading—background knowledge, vocabulary knowledge, language structures, verbal reasoning, and literacy knowledge.

The Pivots We Need in Reading Instruction

Presenter Kareem Weaver provides a cohesive understanding of what equity in reading instruction looks like today, advocating for major shifts in our mindsets and culture. Educators, families, and other stakeholders must work together.

Assessment for Learning: The Science of Screening

Early intervention for reading difficulties is critical for students’ future success. In this two-part webinar, we explore the “what” and “why” of using reading assessments for learning and hear lessons from the field.

The “Big Five” Components and the Science of Reading: A Fresh Look

In this five-part Zaner-Bloser webinar series, presenter Laura Stewart deconstructs Scarborough’s Reading Rope to explore how to effectively and joyfully teach phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.


Introduction to Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge

Dr. Deb Glaser defines conceptual and procedural knowledge and introduces four conceptual models of how children learn to read, which inform teaching procedure.

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The Simple View of Reading Model

See how the five components of reading—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension—map onto the Simple View of Reading and how this model informs instruction.

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Scarborough’s Reading Rope Model

Scarborough’s Reading Rope elaborates on the Simple View and illustrates the complexity of learning to read, which can be applied to procedures in the classroom.

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Seidenberg and McClelland’s Four-Part Processor Model

See how the orthographic, phonological, meaning, and context processors activate in the brain during reading and what this model means for intervention.

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Ehri’s Phases of Word-Reading Development

How do children develop reading through the pre-alphabetic, partial alphabetic, full alphabetic, and consolidated phases of word recognition during reading?

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The Best Ways to Teach: Explicit and Systematic Instruction

When teaching the foundational skills for reading, the best way to teach them is explicitly and systematically. Dr. Glaser shares seven practices to look for in reading classrooms.

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What the Words Say Audio Documentary

With her fourth audio documentary for APM Reports, Emily Hanford tackles false assumptions about reading that have created inequities for U.S. students.

At a Loss for Words Audio Documentary

Emily Hanford reports how teaching children to use cueing strategies to read persists in the U.S., despite their lack of basis in research.

Hard Words Audio Documentary

Emily Hanford made waves with her 2018 report about many educators’ lack of knowledge of the science of reading, balanced literacy, and the reading wars.

What Is Structured Literacy?

The International Dyslexia Association created an infographic to make the six elements and three principles of structured literacy easier to understand.

The Reading League

The Reading League’s mission is to advance awareness, understanding, and use of evidence-based reading instruction.

Consortium on Reading Excellence in Education (CORE)

CORE is a professional development provider committed to educational equity and reducing the achievement gap.

The activities provided are adapted from The Superkids Reading Program and free to use!

Phonological Awareness Practice

Help children understand that spoken language is made up of meaningful units of sounds with these activities. Appropriate for grades K–2.

Phonemic Awareness Practice

Provide practice to build children’s phonemic awareness—the understanding that a word is made up of a sequence of small units of sounds. Appropriate for grades K–2.

Phonics Practice with Letter-Sounds

These activities reinforce the correspondence between individual sounds in words (phonemes) and the letter(s) that stand for each sound. Appropriate for grades K–2.

Vocabulary Development Activities

These activities introduce children to new words that are interesting and useful in discussing texts, their own experiences, and the world around them. Appropriate for grades K–2.