Helping older homeschoolers learn to read

Having children who learn to read at a later age than is acceptable in school is a common feature of many home schools, particularly if you are following an unschooling or Waldorf approach. As Dr. Raymond Moore noted in his work in the seventies and eighties, and as Dr. Alan Thomas noted in his work in 2007, homeschooled children who are late readers learn to read quite well when they eventually do learn to read. Once they decide to learn to read, they learn quickly, catching up to their age-mates reading abilities in months, not years. Further, children who haven’t been forced to read by 3rd grade also appear to read more for personal pleasure and information as they get older than do those who were forced to learn to read at a particular age.

However, if one is a pre-teen or a teenager learning to read from the types of beginning reading materials that are usually available it can be disappointing, since these materials are all too often geared to 3rd graders. A good solution I found is to use adult literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL) reading materials with late readers who feel Dr. Seuss, controlled vocabulary fairy tales, and other story books are too juvenile for their learning situation. A good source for these materials is

Check out their News for You Online program. This is a web-based weekly newspaper that features current news stories written at 3rd—6th grade reading levels. It includes audio for all the stories so students can listen to the entire story or read along, sentence by sentence. Key words are defined at the point of use by rolling over a boldface word and seeing a pop-up.

They also sell a four-book series called Novel Scenes that increase in reading difficulty, going from Introductory to Low-Beginning, High-Beginning, and Low-Intermediate levels. Each book tells the story of a single character in a situation where events unfold chapter by chapter and themes include work, family, money and housing.

So if your late reader wants to crack the reading code but is embarrassed by the beginning reader books that are available to them, consider using adult literacy and ESL materials instead.