Reading at Rivendell Academy


Please note that any links to All About Reading/All About Learning Press are affiliate links. If a purchase is made via one of those links, I will receive a commission. Thank you in advance if you choose to do so!


The hardest thing about committing to All About Reading (AAR) was the price tag. I kept hearing rave reviews, but really, the price was so hard to swallow.

We started Benjamin with Explode the Code (ETC). When I borrowed this from a friend to check it out, it just screamed, “Benjamin.” One of the {many} reasons we chose to homeschool was because of reading. Benjamin was doing great in all areas, but he was struggling in reading. Which wouldn’t be a problem, but he was very discouraged. His teacher assured me that it was never made obvious that he was having a hard time, but many of his classmates were older and came into Kindergarten reading, leaving him far behind. We knew that he would just continue to get left behind as the rest of the class took off. He went from loving school and crying because he couldn’t go to school (weekend/track out/holiday) to crying because he had to go to school. We wanted to get him back to loving learning, and I thought this would be the ticket to get us there. Boy, was I wrong. I have friends who love ETC, and I can see why, but it was not for Benjamin. He would fight me tooth and nail when it came time for reading.

Let me back up and say that I fully understand that at 5 years old, we did not need to start school with Benjamin per NC Homeschool law. We wanted to. He had been doing so well in school in many areas, and we wanted to keep that momentum going.

We had already planned on purchasing AAR for Keaton, but then, after the fighting over ETC, we started to consider it for Benjamin.

We purchased Level 1 for Benjamin and Level 2 for Keaton just this week, so I can’t speak from years, or even months, of experience. But I can share at what JOY this program has brought us in just one week.

Monday we started with Level 1 for Benjamin. He was not excited about starting reading time because he was planning on seeing the ETC book. He knew we had purchased his “new reading”, but wasn’t expecting something completely different. He was laughing through reading, actually READING (something he had not done w/ ETC), the light bulb went off so many times this week.

Keaton‘s Level 2 didn’t come in until midweek. We had a very rough start, complete with tears and him screaming at me that he hated reading and never wanted to do it again. I gave him a few minutes to calm down and asked him to give me 10 minutes for reading and then we would read a book of his choice together. Ten minutes later, he wanted to keep going…40 minutes later, he was begging me to go on to the next lesson, and almost didn’t take no for an answer! He has asked every day since he can JUST do reading for the day, even offering to spend more time doing extra lessons since he wouldn’t be doing other subjects (what?!) I think it’s safe to say, it’s a hit!

  • The activity sheets are fantastic (and can be stored and reused for future children!)
  • The boys actually love the fluency sheets (I’m sure that will change one day, haha!)
  • Benjamin loves the viewfinder card – a blank 3×5 card with a rectangle cut out so he can only see the word(s) he needs to be reading.
  • We have yet to open the readers that come with the kits, but I will come back to update once we do.
  • The Word Cards and Phonogram Cards are the perfect addition since we’re a former public school family and are used to “heart words cards” – Benjamin was upset that his teacher didn’t send home his cards when we pulled him to homeschool 😉 He’ll now have more cards than he knows what to do with!
  • ***NOTE: For Level 2, the Word and Phonogram cards did not fit in a regular 3×5 index card box. However, I found a more squareish box at Staples.
  • For me, I love that I can open up to the next lesson, take a few minutes to prepare the activity and then we’re ready to go. The Teacher Manual has everything I need to say spelled out – no guesswork on my part.

Up next, Spelling at Rivendell Academy…

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