Early intervention for struggling readers

BRI is a gentle and lively introduction to early reading and begins with just three words and five sounds. The books provide the focus and ‘know-how’ essential for struggling readers.

Strong decoding practices are put in place and all-through-the-word left-to-right tracking is embedded immediately. The instructions are simple and direct. While the story-line is carried by spirited, energetic pictures the words cannot be ‘predicted' and illustrations contain no clues to encourage a guessing strategy.

BRI raises awareness of the  components of a basic story: 'who', 'where', 'when', 'what', encouraging children to engage with the stories, as well as identifying with the gentle foibles and humour of Sam the Lion, Mat the Rat and friends. Children find it immensely satisfying to understand how to ‘really read’ a book within a few minutes of starting Book 1. For the adult, this book can seem slight; to the child it is thrilling. Confidence-building starts here!

BRI is suitable for supervision by education assistants.  Scheduling is flexible – 15-30 minutes per day of one-to-one instruction is recommended but small group instruction is also feasible. Australian  intervention programme 'Minilit' uses BRI readers in  groups of 4 children.  http://www.multilit.com/

No lengthy traiing is necesary.  The  Getting Started instructions will be sufficient for most helpers. Simple instructions are included  in each book so parents can also see how to avoid  'overhelping'. Progress is transparent.

Each child is quickly assessed with thePERFORMANCE INDICATOR TESTS (see Getting Started) to establish the best starting place.


Teachers and  assistants should note the following :

  1. Does the child remember code?

  2. Does he/she use learned code to sound out unknown words?

  3. Is each child slowly going to fluency and  sounding out fewer and fewer words? Children should be almost fluent at the end of each set.

  4. Does every child automatically use the protocol (‘Say the sounds and read the word’) when encountering a word he/she cannot read?

  5. Are all faulty and distracting reading strategies eliminated:
    i. guessing
    ii. cueing from the first letter
    iii. reversal of words due to erratic left-to-right directionality i.e. saying ‘saw’ for ‘was’
    iv. inattention to the decoding process i.e. saying ‘this’ for ‘that’?

    No child should be encouraged to go ‘steaming’ ahead using faulty strategies. Once embedded, it is far harder to rectify these:

    Ask the child to choose previously read books to reread with expression.  SPELL STUDY lists ensure that practice is focused on words that have proved difficult to read and words that include any forgotten sound/letter correspondences.

    Use the Notched Card ‘Slider’ (see Getting Started) and insist on the ‘sounding out’ protocol.

Parents/carers should be involved and 1-2 books regularly sent home. A short briefing is helpful.

Simple story questions accompany each book. It quickly becomes apparent which children gain most benefit from the story questions.

Piperbooks SPELL Study List