Monday, September 3, 2012

Crew Review: Reading Kingdom

Balsam Fir is a struggling reader. Not because he CAN'T read, but because he dislikes it. When your eyes don't work together and those letters and words bounce and sway, well, reading just takes a lot of WORK. Finding something that makes reading fun for him is challenging. But what I read about Reading Kingdom was very exciting and I couldn't wait to review this program!

The Reading Kingdom is a fun, easy-to-use online program that teaches children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level.

Most kids can use the program on their own after a few lessons
• It's fun, so kids think its a game and want to practice
• It was designed by Dr. Marion Blank, one of the world's experts on reading
• It works with any other curriculum
• Offers customized instruction for each child
•Teaches all 6 skills needed for reading and writing success

Yep! Sounds pretty good, huh?

So, what DID Balsam Fir and I think of Reading Kingdom?

Balsam Fir completed the readiness activities and continued on with Level 1. Initially he was a little frustrated with the keyboarding as he wasn't familiar with the location of letter keys. He has made great strides in learning this since beginning the program. He was also placed in a level that is below his reading abilities, probably due in part by his keyboarding errors. However, I felt it was a good place for him to begin as he could continue to work on his word processing skills and spelling (which is an area I have not started with him formally) without jumping into more challenging reading. The combination of repetitive learning through word puzzles, spelling, reading, and phonics with word processing has Balsam Fir learning by leaps-and-bounds. I have been QUITE impressed with the learning going on in this program!

♦ Reading Kingdom has several tutorials that explain the program and how it works. You can view them here for more information. These tutorials made is easier to use the program more effectively.
♦ The program CUSTOMIZES reading instruction based on each individual students. Our kiddos don't have to rehash over and over words that they already know well.
Reading Kingdom has a scholarship opportunity for families who can not afford their program. This is the first time I've seen this ANYWHERE and it shows how EDUCATIONAL-ORIENTED and SUPPORTIVE this company is towards ALL families and children.
♦ Reading Kingdom appeals to many kids with Autism, ADHD, ADD, and other disorders because it is visually interesting with clear sound and short, but meaningful activities.
♦ The educational activities for kids are fun and interesting! They are thoroughly explained with supply lists for ages up to 9 and cover many different areas such as fossils, simple machines and plants.
♦ The graphics are whimsical and fun!
♦ After you start, you can click on your students name to see their progress. This progress report is easy to understand with a quick glance because of picture icons and can be printed out for portfolios if needed.
♦ During the course of completing reading activities, kiddos can earn yellow stars for their passport by reaching certain point levels. Although this wasn't a great motivator for Balsam Fir, I'm sure some kids would love playing just to collect the stars.

Reading Kingdom offers a free 30 day free trial, but you must enter a credit card in order to do so. If you don't cancel the free trial within 30 days, your card will automatically be charged the monthly rate. Personally, I don't like this policy (in any company).
♦ I didn't feel the worksheets added anything to the program. They were sparse, covering few topics, and not very visually interesting. (We opted not to use them in this review.) And the assessment skill placement test at the beginning seemed quite long.
♦ The cost of Reading Kingdom is $199.99/year (or $19.99/month) for the first student and $99.99/year ($9.99/month) for any additional students. For many homeschoolers, myself included, this program would be cost prohibitive. (But see Pro about possible scholarship availability for your family if you simply can't afford the cost and feel it will greatly benefit your child.)

Would Balsam Fir and I recommend this? Yep! 

Pondering Reading Kingdom? Just click on any of the highlighted links above to find out more information or head over to the TOS Crew Reviews and see what others families are saying here!

Disclaimer: Our Side of the Mountain received an on-line subscription to Reading Kingdom in exchange for our honest review. ALL thoughts and opinions are our own.


  1. My 8-year-old is a struggling reader too. We actually used Reading Kingdom for a while when he was 7, and he loved it ... but the price was too high to continue. I didn't know about their scholarship program, though - will have to check that out!

    Thanks for stopping by Camping for Families and putting our button in your sidebar - I was so excited to see that!!

  2. We just started this program about 3 days ago and my 8 year old son who also struggled somewhat with reading. I homeschool as well. I am finding the same Pros and Cons as you have already stated. Son is very frustrated with the keyboarding and ready to move ahead but trying to practice ..... Patience !! I feel like this program will help our kids and am eager to follow your son in his journey !!


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