Review by Amy Lauren Botula, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2016

Reading A-Z

Leveled texts with extensive teaching supports

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • English Language Learning
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K-6
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (20 Reviews)

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Pros: Thousands of leveled books on a variety of high-interest topics plus extensive printable resources for teachers.

Cons: Tracking students’ progress digitally requires an upgrade to the developer's other products.

Bottom Line: Reading A-Z's focus is on teacher materials, and it offers a host of texts and resources for tried-and-true instruction.

Each book includes a wealth of teacher resources, from step-by-step assembly instructions for the printed books to tons of lesson plans and supporting information. Take some time to get familiar with what's available and how these tools can slot into your curriculum accordingly. You might discover that the developer's companion tool, Raz-Kids, might be helpful for assessing students' progress; take a look at both and see what makes the most sense for your classroom -- and your budget. 

With 27 reading levels available, there are tons of opportunities to differentiate instruction here. Assessment tools and a level diagnostic are provided, but to save time, teachers may want to use the site's correlation chart to determine where each of their students should begin. Consider how to use the many formats available for each book. Any book can be projected for the class to view together, and projecting books could support a flipped-instruction model of sorts, where half the class participates in a lesson while the other works independently. Aside from the paper management and costs, the option to print books is a nice bonus -- kids can write and color in them, as well as take them home for practice.

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Reading A-Z is a website that offers  comprehensive implementation resources for differentiated reading instruction. There's over a thousand texts spanning 27 reading levels. There are also a wealth of other resources for teachers, including lesson plans, worksheets, graphic organizers, assessment tools, comprehension quizzes, fluency passages, and readers' theater scripts.

In addition to searching by level, teachers can select books from a specific series or genre or choose books that target specific skills like decoding, high-frequency word recognition, and sound/symbol recognition. Though there are tons of options, navigating the site is easy. Everything a teacher could need is either a clearly labeled tab or link.

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Reading A-Z strikes a nice balance between encouraging teacher independence and supporting those who need a quick solution. Instead of a limited number of texts covering an equally limited range of levels, Reading A-Z offers a variety of options. However, some sections of fewer options than others, and books vary in quality. Still, with the ability to search by interest, level, or Common Core standard, teachers will likely find books and materials that support their students' learning goals. With such a wide range of levels available, teachers can continue to challenge and support students as they improve throughout the year. Content is updated every four to six weeks -- ensuring that the collections are topical, accurate, and relevant.

There are great opportunities to extend guided instruction beyond the reading of text -- lesson plans include scripts for readers' theater, journals for literature circles, and writing and discussion prompts. However, without an online tool for organizing students' reading and work, using the site could require a good deal of management and paperwork -- a subscription to the companion site, Raz-Kids, could serve as a solution. Overall, this is a neat resource for leveled reading and it's a good fit for classrooms that aren't 1-to-1, but teachers who want more powerful data features might look elsewhere for more robust features.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Texts can be printed as black-and-white booklets for students to color and keep. Digital versions are image-rich with multicultural representation. Subjects are often topical and intentionally funny.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

There's a large amount of texts across 27 reading levels, each with a large amount of supporting materials. The texts vary in quality, however, and selection is thin in some areas (like Classics).

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

There's a treasure trove of materials to support teaching. Lesson plans focus on high-frequency words and specific comprehension strategies. Many books are available in Spanish and French, and the library offers ELL materials.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 20 reviews) (20 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Ellen J. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
In a school with full membership to Reading A-Z and RazKids

Looking around the site I feel like I'm always about to click on a link that might interest me, only to find out I need another membership, i.e., A-Z Vocabulary. Reading A-Z has a lot of books, but I do question the quality of some of the materials I found on the site. Just because it's print and it's at a student's level doesn't mean it's worth giving to my student or class. This is obvious, but I do wonder how much better off schools are with high-quality library access, rather than pricey online platforms.

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