I’ve taught all of my children to read (as well other children when I was a former public and private school teacher).
This blog post is a non-affiliate, unsponsored comparison of two very popular reading curriculum, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (EL) and All About Reading (AAR).
I’ve used both thoroughly. Let’s get into a comparison, review, and be sure to join us for a lesson in both!
Pin this blog post for later!
Watch the YouTube video about 100 Easy Lessons vs. All About Reading
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.
What is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons?
El is a phonics-based reading program that is based on the Direct Instruction Method. EL uses 44 different letter formations to create a regular alphabet to simplify the decoding process for beginning readers.
What does Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons entail?
Everything necessary for instruction is contained in this single book, including letters, words, sentences, and stories for reading practice.
The Sounds Introduction is first.
Next, your child will sound out words.
Sentences & Stories
Then your child will read simple sentences.
Finally, your child will be able to read stories! God willing.
As you can see in the images above, the pink text is what you will say to your child.
A few pages at the end of the book provide suggestions for covering additional phonetic sounds along with suggested books for reading.
Pros & Cons of 100EL
- It works. One of my kids learned how to read with EL.
- Simple layout: everything in one book
- Black and white text
- It can be rather boring
- Doesn’t use a multi-sensory approach
- Stories tend to be twaddle
- Because EL uses an unusual orthography (formation of letters to represent the various sounds) it may be confusing to use with a child who has already begun reading instruction in another method.
What is All About Reading?
All About Reading (AAR) is an intensive phonics program for pre-kindergarten and up, that uses the Orton-Gillingham methodology. With this method, 97% of English words can be learned according to phonetic rules, leaving only 3% to be learned as sight words.
What does All About Reading entail?
AAR is a highly interactive multi-sensory program. The open-and-go lesson plans are scripted and illustrated, making it simple for the inexperienced parent to present the lessons with little or no prep time.
AAR is easy to adapt to each child’s needs by selecting among the suggested hands-on activities, choosing their favorite books for read-aloud time, and adjusting the pace and amount of interaction.
What do the AAR levels consist of?
AAR consists of two main parts: the Pre-reading program (teaching essential pre-reading skills) and the Reading program (consisting of Levels 1 through 4).
AAR Pre-Reading Level Overview & Features
The pre-reading level of AAR is meant to introduce the letters and their sounds.
AAR Pre-reading level includes –
- Teacher’s Manual
- Student Packet
- Divider Cards
- Letter Sounds A to Z app
- & Animal Stickers (for Awards Completion Chart)
Optional, yet highly recommended items:
- Ziggy the Zebra Puppet (he’s part of our family now 😉
- All About Reading Pre-reading Review Box
- Plus, just recently added, Lowercase Letter Crafts Book
The Prereading Teacher’s Manual
AAR’s Teacher’s Manual contains fun lessons and activities, all while teaching the Big Five Skills.
Here is the first lesson in AAR Prereading
The Student Packet
In the Student Packet, there are craft sheets that contain plenty of oral manipulation and distinguishing of sounds, all developing the key fundamental skill that predicts reading success – phonemic awareness.
The phonetic readers are beautifully illustrated hardcover books that could stand on their own. They feature finely detailed (and now full color) drawings that are a delight in themselves.
The “whimsical” poems in the readers help children familiarize the sound associated with the letters.
Pre-reading Review Box, & Picture & Letter Sound Cards, and Divider Cards
Letter Sounds A to Z app
The app is useful in playing the letter sounds for your child and is helpful for inexperienced parents who may be confused as to what the letters sound like. It is free and you can use it on your computer, tablet, or phone.
Ziggy Zebra Puppet
Ziggy is optional, yet highly recommended. Your child will love playing games with Ziggy and will be able to correct Ziggy’s mistakes, which helps them feel like Ziggy is learning along with them.
He’s part of our family and joins us in other homeschooling lessons as well! 😉
With your purchase of All About Reading Prereading you will receive an Uppercase and Lowercase Poster.
Our Experience with AAR Pre-Reading
I’ve successfully used AAR Prereading with multiple children. I’ve purchased the entire Prereading package and I’ve never regretted it.
Aside from the Student Packet, you can reuse everything with your other children. If you’ll be using Prereading with multiple children at the same time, you’ll need to purchase extra Student Packs.
Join us for an AAR Prereading lesson here at 00:00 !
AAR Levels 1-4 Overview & Features
In AAR Levels 1 – 4, the five key components of reading shift to phonological awareness, phonics/decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Before starting Level 1, your child should already know the alphabet and be able to identify both uppercase and lowercase letters.
AAR Levels 1-4 Features
AAR Levels 1-4 include one of each per level:
- Teachers Manual
- Student Packet
- Phonogram Sounds App
- Basic Reading Interactive Kit (which is a one-time purchase per household) that includes physical Letter Tiles, magnets, and one set of Reading Divider Cards.
- Reading Review Box (again, a one time purchase per household)
In addition to that, you will need to purchase: A 2’ x 3’ magnetic whiteboard for both storing and working with the letter tiles, or you can purchase the Letter Tiles App, which takes the place of the physical letter tiles and magnetic white board.
The Teacher’s Manual
All About Reading contains a necessary Teacher’s Manual for each level that consists of open-and-go lesson plans that help you teach key reading skills.
The first lesson in AAR Level 1
At the top, the gray box allows you to see what the lesson will be about as well as what you need for each lesson.
Before You Begin
Sometimes there is a ‘Before You Begin’ box that you review prior to the lesson. For example, in the first lesson you will preview the sounds of the letters, hand motions, vowels and consonants, and the blending procedure.
The New Teaching in the first lesson contains: Teach New Letter Sounds, Demonstrate How to Blend Sounds, Play “Change the Word”, Teach Vowels and Consonants, Complete Activity Sheet
Practice Reading Words
This is when you child practices reading words using the Word Cards.
Lastly, Read Aloud & Progress Chart
Student Activity Books
The student activity books are a major component and add much variety to the lessons through short reading games and activities that motivate your child.
The hardcover readers in Levels 1- 4 are excellent, with lovely illustrations and interesting content for vocabulary-controlled reading material.
Basic Reading Interactive Kit
You will use phonogram cards and letter tiles to teach sounds, introduce blending, and demonstrate, for example, how switching the first letter (e.g., using the words map and sap) changes only the initial sound.
In addition to that, you will need to purchase a 2’ x 3’ magnetic whiteboard or this App. If you’re a Worldschooling, homeschooling-on-the-road, or homeschooling-on-the-go family, definitely choose the App.
That way you won’t have to lug around a big white board. Or ya know, have your magnet pieces stolen by your cat.
Join us for a lesson in AAR Level 1, here, at 00:00 , as well as a lesson in AAR Level 2 at 00:00 !
Pros & Cons of AAR
- Open & Go
- Explicit instructions, including complete scripting
- Beautiful illustrations in Readers
- Interesting stories in Readers
- Multi-sensory approach (which is great for children with dyslexia)
- It can be expensive…but I think it’s worth every penny
- A lot of moving parts
So which one is our favorite?
All About Reading!
Why? Because AAR works best for our family.
It’s open and go, which means I’ll use it. I want my children to view reading as delightful and that is what AAR has given our family – The love of reading, which trumps all else.
When comparison prices appear, please keep in mind that they are subject to change. Click on links where available to verify price accuracy.
AAR complete (Pre-Reading Level) package from the All About Learning website – $134
AAR complete (Level 1) package from the All About Learning website – $196.85
AAR from Amazon – prices vary
100 EL from Amazon – $17.89
What age should I start using a reading curriculum?
When your child is developmentally ready. For us, that was when my kids were writing notes (yes, even on the wall), asking to read, or pretending to read.
And no, younger is not necessarily better.
My child is 4 and we finished 100 EL successfully and want to start AAR. Is the Pre-Reading AAR level necessary? Or should we pick up with level one?
I recommend using AAR’s placement tests, but it sounds as if your child will be able to jump into AAR Level 1.
So…which one should I choose!?
Any traditional phonics program will work. While researching, ask yourself: Does the program’s approach fit my…
- teaching style?
- child’s learning style?
This is the third post in the Teach Your Child to Read Series. Read the first post here.