Bill Allen, author and creator of The Learning to Read Program,
had challenges with reading himself. After many years of struggling,
he figured out how to correct his problems, and from that experience,
this program was developed. He began by tutoring hundreds of children
with a different program that was not available to everyone. He
wanted to create something that any family could use at home.
Three-dimensional learners form pictures in their minds when reading.
The idea of this program is to associate a picture and a corresponding
sentence for each of the most common sight words. It also practices
the concept of viewing the word in the mind's eye and touching
raised 3-D letters for each word to help the user really retain
what is being taught. This program actually presents information
to 3-D learners in the exact way they learn. This is not how reading
is taught in the school system, which is why learning disabled
students often fall behind and can't ever catch up. It's not because
they can't learn. The information just isn't being presented to
them the right way.
The program is quite simple to use once you read through all the
background information, which is very educational if you don't
understand how the mind of a dyslexic student works. There are
13 volumes in all. They cover beginning words and written characters,
pronouns, possessives, action words, contractions, opposites, and
many sight words. Each volume utilizes Bill's M.E.L.T. (Mind's
Eye Learning Technique) method, which leads the child through a
series of multisensory actions to help him accurately learn and
remember the words. Each page contains one word with an audio recording
that explains its definition, pronunciation, and spelling. There
is also a pop-up picture with a sentence that uses that word and
helps create a picture for the mind to see for future reading.
This program is geared toward 6-11 year olds; however, it could
easily be used for older struggling students or even adults (if
they don't mind the childish pictures). It is suggested that the
program can be done in as little as three to six months or for
the slower student no longer than a year. This of course would
depend on the age of the student and the severity of his reading
problems. The entire 13 volumes cost $449.95.
Here is a list of pros and cons I found while using the program:
- Pop-up pictures are very colorful and attractive to look at.
I can definitely see a child enjoying them. Some even have pieces
that move to help show the meaning of the word.
- 3-D letters add a whole different dimension to learning for
recognition, spelling, and visualization of the words.
- Can be used as a supplement to any reading program.
- Can be done in as little as 15-20 minutes a day.
- Batteries were provided for each of the 13 books.
- Covers tactile, visual, and auditory learning styles, so every
child is sure to gain from it.
- Creates a more fluent reader with improved reading comprehension.
- Is enjoyable for the student to do.
- Audio is a bit hard to understand at times and even has a little
static. We found a couple of buttons that didn't work. This was
easily resolved by my reading the information to my son. There
was one word where the audio mixed the pronunciation and definition
of two different words.
- The 3-D letters are not attached very well in some books. Some
letters fell off from simply being touched, and I had to glue
them back on. This was frustrating because I lost my son's attention
while I was trying to glue letters on to continue the lesson.
Many struggling learners often have attention problems, and any
time a lesson is not fully prepared, it can be a big distraction
while they wait for you to get everything together. Also, one
book had a page missing, and that threw us off for a minute.
- These books are big, and when you have 13 of them, they take
up a lot of space.
- Even though the author wants this to be available to all families,
the price still seems out of reach for a number of them, especially
While there are several things that need to be tweaked on the
construction of the books and audio recordings, I think the concept
is great and have seen an improvement in my son's reading even
though we're only halfway through the books. I asked him how he
felt about it, and he agreed that he was reading better and not
stopping as much when he came across difficult words. His comprehension
has improved because he is able to focus more on the context of
a sentence rather than the individual words themselves. Many programs
for dyslexics strictly focus on phonics and not the sight words
that trip up a struggling reader. Because this program's primary
focus is those sight words, it's a unique approach. I will be completing
the whole program with my son and saving it for future use with
both my daughters when they are old enough.