Reading A-Z pays close attention to the National Reading Panel's recommendations and other research findings when developing its reading resources. The student and teacher resources on the Reading A-Z Web site have been developed to reflect the instructional practices and reading strategies that are best supported by research findings from a wide variety of sources. The resources also correspond to the findings of the Put Reading First federal initiative.

In 2000, the National Reading Panel published its research-based findings on the reading strategies and instructional practices that demonstrated the best results for reading achievement in developing readers. The panel reviewed several hundred key studies that met its criteria for sound scientific research on reading. Of those studies, a subset of qualifying studies was further evaluated through a meta-analysis. The results are organized around five key areas of reading instruction--phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

The findings are intended to help educators and publishers understand and address the best methods of instruction and develop the most effective instructional resources. The hopeful outcome is improved reading performance on the part of all children.

This document addresses each of the five areas of reading instruction identified by the National Reading Panel. It identifies specific Reading A-Z resources designed to support effective instruction. It also covers other areas cited by research that fall outside the parameters of the five key areas.

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Providing Differentiated Reading Instruction to Meet the Individual Needs of Students
By Adria F. Klein


Phonological awareness addresses the sounds of language. It does not teach the symbols that represent sounds, but rather the sounds alone. Instruction in phonological awareness includes the following:

Word Awareness

Word awareness is the knowledge that words have meaning. Students with word awareness can discriminate individual words in a passage read to them. Beginning readers must have this skill before they can extract meaning from what they read. For example, a student needs to know that the spoken word dog represents a creature that has four legs and barks before he or she can understand what is meant by the printed word dog.

Rhyme Awareness

Rhyme awareness is the understanding that certain word endings sound alike, and therefore contain the same sounds, such as the short /a/ and /p/ sounds in cap and map or the long /i/ and /t/ combination in fight and kite.

Onset and Rime

Onset is the initial consonant in a one-syllable word. Rime includes the remaining sounds, including the vowel and any sounds that follow. For example, in kite, the /k/ sound is the onset, and the /ite/ sound is the rime.

Syllable Awareness

This is the recognition that words are divided into parts, each part containing a separate vowel sound. A student with syllable awareness can identify bat as one syllable and batter as two syllables.

Phonemic Awareness

This is the student's awareness of the smallest units of sound in a word. It also refers to a student's ability to segment, blend, and manipulate these units. A student with phonemic awareness hears three sounds in the word bat: /b/, /a/, and /t/.

Findings and Recommendations

The National Reading Panel’s findings focus on the phonemic awareness aspect of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness can be taught and learned. Effective strategies include teaching students to: identify a particular sound in a word; recognize the same sound in different words; recognize one word that begins or ends with a different sound from a group of three or four words; segment and blend the sounds in a word; and manipulate sounds in a word through deletion, addition, and substitution of other sounds. Phonemic awareness helps students learn to read and spell. The most effective instruction quickly moves the student from awareness of a particular sound to an association of that sound with a letter symbol. Once letter symbols are introduced, students should be able to manipulate the sounds within words by using the letter symbols. < The best results occur when instruction focuses on one or two phonemic manipulations at a time, rather than three or more manipulations. Several simultaneous manipulations may cause confusion, dilute the teaching of a particular manipulation, or introduce more difficult manipulations before easier ones have been mastered.


  • Phonemic awareness is the key indicator of a child’s success in learning to read and central to later spelling achievement. (Stanovich, 1986,1994; Ehri, 1984)
  • Children who have phonemic awareness skills are likely to have an easier time learning to read and spell than children who have few or none of these skills. (Armbruster and Osborne, 2002)
  • Children who cannot hear or manipulate the sounds that make up words will have severe difficulty connecting sounds to individual letter symbols and combinations of letters. (Adams, 1990)

Reading A-Z Alignment with Research

Reading A-Z materials support the suggested practices and recommendations of the National Reading Panel in the following areas:

Word Awareness

  • Reading A-Z offers many resources for teaching word awareness. Materials that are well suited for "read-aloud" or "read to" instruction include Read-Aloud alliterative books, Alphabet Chants, High-Frequency Word books, and Alphabet Books.

Onset and Rime Awareness
  • Strategic lessons that teach word families (phonograms) are part of Reading A-Z’s systematic phonics lessons. Blending and substitution activities are included in these lessons.
  • Phonogram Flashcards can be used in word manipulation/building activities.

Rhyme Awareness
  • Reading A-Z offers two types of books for teaching rhyme—poetry books and Leveled Books with rhyming text.
  • Alphabet Chants are excellent resources for teaching rhyme awareness.
  • Picture flashcards with objects whose names rhyme can be used in sorting and classifying activities as well as oddity tasks.

Syllable Awareness
  • Lessons in selected Leveled Books provide strategies for teaching syllable awareness.
  • Picture cards with objects whose names contain different numbers of syllables can be used in sorting activities and oddity tasks.

Phonemic Awareness
  • Each phonics lesson begins with a phonemic awareness section. Strategies include listening to alliterative passages, blending and segmenting words, and manipulating sounds in words through substitution, deletion, and addition of phonemics. Elkonin boxes are provided for tactile blending and segmenting activities.
  • Each Leveled Book lesson from levels aa through J contains a specific strategy for teaching a targeted phonemic.
  • Read-Aloud Books have a high occurrence of words that contain the targeted phonemic. Reading A-Z provides books for all the major phonemics.
  • Picture cards with objects whose names begin or end with the various phonemics can be used in sorting, classifying, and oddity tasks.
  • Chants for each of the major phonemics can be used in identifying phonemics during read-aloud activities.

Reading A-Z Resources

Click on images for more information.

Read-Aloud Books
The Digging Dog Grandpa\'s Goat
Alphabet Chants
Alphabet Chant B Alphabet Chant W
Alphabet Books
Alphabet Book R Alphabet Book U
High-Frequency Word Books
What Is It? Look At Me
Poetry Books
Hey, Diddle Diddle
Summer's a Bummer
Alphabet Flashcards
Alphabet Picture Flashcards D Alphabet/Sound Flashcards