A Review of All About Reading Level 1 Second Edition

I can't tell you how many times my husband has walked through our school room and remarked that I'm a great teacher. Each and every time, I was teaching an All About Reading or All About Spelling lesson! But, I always admit that it's the program that makes all the difference.

All About Reading has made such a wonderful difference in my homeschool. It makes me feel confident as a teacher. The program is so easy to teach - it tells me exactly what to do in a very detailed, clear, and concise way with lessons that engage my children in the learning process, so they are learning and feel confident too.

Today I'm reviewing the Second Edition of All About Reading Level 1 from All About Learning Press. I have taught Level 1 to two students previously, and I'm truly excited for the changes in this edition and also to start teaching my 5 year old, Bo.

General Product Information

All About Reading is an open-and-go, mastery based reading program, written for the child and the teacher. It is fully scripted and teaches one concept at a time focusing on rules, patterns, and concepts to teach children how to read and understand the English language in less than 20 minutes a day. It's hands down the best reading program I have seen in 12 years of homeschooling, and it's the only program I use to teach my children how to read.

What do I need to teach All About Reading Level 1 Second Edition?

To get started you will need Level 1 materials and a Reading Interactive Kit.

Note: Second Edition materials are not compatible with First Edition materials. 

This includes:
  • Teacher's Manual 
  • Student Packet: Blast Off to Reading! activity book
    • The Blast Off to Reading! activity book contains:
      • Process Chart 
      • Read-Aloud Record 
      • Activity Sheets 
      • Warm-Up Sheets 
      • Practice Sheets 
      • Certificate of Completion
  • Phonogram Cards and Word Cards
  • Viewfinder Bookmark
  • Interactive Kit: Letter Tiles, Divider Cards, Phonogram Sounds app
  • Readers: Run, Bug, Run!, The Runt Pig, Cobweb the Cat.
You will also need:
  • Crayons, scissors, glue or rubber cement, a stapler, and two small baggies to store letter tiles. 
  • 2'x3' Magnetic White Board (or a smooth flat surface such as a table top). 
  • The Reading Review Box, Stickers for the Progress Chart and Tote Bag are all optional, a part of the Deluxe Interactive Kit, and I highly recommended them to help you stay organized.

You will also need books to read aloud to your child! All About Learning Press recommends that you read aloud to your child for 20 minutes a day. 
We are currently enjoying (and highly recommend) the delightful Burgess nature readers

What's New in Second Edition?
  • 17 new stories 
  • Over 100 more pages of teaching material, but please don't let the number overwhelm you. All About Reading is gently scripted and very easy to follow.
  • Over 150 more student activity pages, which includes 30 new activities and 52 new Warm-Up Sheets <--- I thought this was a brilliant addition to Level 2, so I'm so happy to see it in this new edition! 
Look at the difference between the old activity book (on bottom) and the new activity book (on top)! The quality is even better and the images softer and more appealing to the eye. Love it! 

What hasn't changed?

The price! All materials for Level 1 Second Edition are still $99.95.

Before I go on, how do I know this is the right level for my child?

All About Learning makes it easy to determine if your child is ready to read.

  • can recite the alphabet song and recognize capital and lowercase letters.
  • knows the proper way to hold a book, and understands that books are read from cover to back, that sentences are read from left to right, and that words on the page can be read.
  • can retell a familiar story in his own words, answer simple questions about a story, and asks questions during read-aloud. 
  • can rhyme, separate a sentence into words, clap syllables, blend sounds to make a word, identify the beginning and end sounds in a word.
  • enjoys being read to, "reads" on his own, and asks us to spell words for him to write.

According to the assessment, he is ready! Of course, I already knew he was ready because he completed All About Reading Pre-reading, and I have been reading longer story books and chapter books to him for some time now.

So now that I know my child is ready, what's next? 

You will want to preview the Teacher's Manual and Activity Book. Shall we?

What to expect: 

The lessons in the Teacher's Manual are step by step and there are two types of lessons: "New concepts" and "Read a story."

Most lessons begin with a short preview of the lesson called Before You Begin. This little ditty is for you - it is a quick introduction to the lesson. You will preview the sounds you will be teaching, place any new tiles on the board, and learn any new terminology.

You begin teaching with a Review of previously taught material. This is where you will pull out the Reading Review Box.

New Teaching is a hands-on, multisensory, and engaging lesson using letter tiles, activity sheets, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency exercises. This is the fun part. :-)

Then you are reminded to Read-Aloud to your child for twenty minutes everyday. You will want to find the best time of day to read-aloud. For us, it is afternoon or bedtime. Our evening bedtime routine ends with a read-aloud in bed. This has always been my favorite time to read-aloud because any extra time to stay up is always a win. Find what works for you! To help me be better prepared, I timed how long it takes me to read a chapter in our nature reader to give me an idea of how long 20 minutes is. I'm glad I did this because 20 minutes is at least 4-5 chapters! We are up to reading 4 chapters at a time in one sitting.

Finally, you reward yourselves for your progress by added a sticker or coloring in the star on the Progress Chart.

The manual walks you step by step through all these processes and has a lot of great Q&As to help you along the way.

Getting Ready

Our Magnetic White Board with one set of letter tiles. 

Our Reading Review Box organizes our flash cards.

Here's a tip that has saved me from great frustration: use a rubber band to secure the cards in the box, especially if you have little ones or are accident prone. I've had our cards dumped out so many times that I put the word cards in plastic sleeves for upper levels to prevent this.

I will keep the word cards in the box for Bo for Level 1. He is ready to read, but he is young and a busy boy. He will greatly benefit from having the the word cards shown to him one at a time. The more hands-on I am with him the better, so I will use Level 1 Second Edition as instructed. (I am more flexible with older students).

I already have the app downloaded to my iPad and iPhone, so I have that ready to go if needed. I used this extensively in the beginning, but after 7 years of experience with All About Learning, I have them all down pat, but Bo loves to hear the sounds for himself.

To dive into all the parts of a lesson, I'll later share a "day-in-the-life" with Bo and how I use Level 1 Second Edition with him. (Look for that in September when we are back to school full time!) Keep in mind that lessons are designed so that you can work at your student's pace. I love this! Don't worry - general guidelines are in place to help you through this process.

Lessons generally take us 10-20 minutes.

Getting Started with All About Reading Level 1 Second Edition

Because lessons are truly open-and-go, you can jump right in once you have your supplies - the manual walks you through step by step.

Bo has been helping me get set up and is excited to get started. Since All About Reading is open and go, and we were planning to be away this week, I packed everything we would need to get started away from home in the tote bag. By the way, I wanted Bo to have his own tiles and board (all those extra tiles I use for Eliana and Malachi would have been distracting to him), so I bought a new white board from Costco on our way up to our home in Montana. We sat on the couch with the white board propped up against the back of the couch and did our first lesson. It was comfortable, and we could both reach the board easily. In fact, I like being able to move the board and may not attach it to the wall after all.

Our first lesson went great. He knew all the sounds from Pre-reading and the blending exercises went well - Bo is definitely ready to read!  It was a delight to hear Bo read his first word (as it has been with every child). One of his first words was Sam. He has a friend named Sam, so he learned that word right off the bat. But, as soon as he saw the first two letters in sap, he wanted to say Sam, so I followed the process in the manual to have him touch each tile in order and say the sound of the letter - no guessing! This was wonderful! He caught on after a few lessons and there was no more guessing. (Though, he is reading all sorts of words outside of our lessons and guessing at them!).

He was very curious why the y was both blue and red so I was happy this was answered right away when I taught him vowels and consonants. He completed the activity sheet and I taught him that names start with a capital letter and had him find the words that are names. Then I had him find which words rhyme. Love this addition! Today, he reminded me that every word has a vowel, and even recites them on his own outside of a lesson. :-)

It was so fun to see him read his first story, "Bam." He was so excited, he snuck out of bed later that night after his dad got home so he could read it to him too. He read it with more confidence the second time and again the third. Since All About Reading is designed for me to go at my child's pace, I am very comfortable moving on when Bo is ready. For him and his personality, that means building confidence and moving ahead when he is confident.

Bo seems to enjoy the activities in the Student Activity Book. He looks forward to them and completes them with ease.

As you can see, Bo is working right in his activity book. He did this with Pre-reading too. He loves to have a "book" of his learning. For most of the activities, this works well. Some activities have to be removed from the book to use, such as the Word Flippers.

I haven't taken any pictures of Bo's first lessons because I wanted to give him my full attention, but he was willing to read the stories again (and again!) so I got a video to share. In the following video, he is practicing reading exclamation points, so when he repeats a sentence, he is practicing reading it with excitement! :-)

He also read The Cat in the same sitting. This is his second reading of the story.

Once school starts, I will continue All About Reading Level 1 Second Edition with Bo 4 days a week for 20 minutes a day as recommended and slow to 2 days a week as needed. I'm very excited that this program will be the heart of our Kindergarten year. ♥

What I love about All About Reading Second Edition:

  • I loved seeing the gentle transition from Pre-reading to Level 1 in this edition. All of his Pre-reading skills are being put to work in a friendly, familiar, and gentle way, and he was reading his very first story (from a beautiful reader) by the second lesson! 
  • It may take Bo 2 or 3 sessions to finish one lesson, but that is okay. The goal is to make learning to read an enjoyable journey and that means working at my child's pace. I love this!!!
  • The fluency sheets are a big improvement from the first edition. They are not as overwhelming. It would take us sometimes as many as three sessions to make it through one lesson. The fluency sheets in Second Edition are shorter and easier to get through. No more trudging!
  • The illustrations and print in the new activity book are not as bold and bright. They are softer and more pleasing to the eye. 
  • The readers are adorable. They are full of beautiful illustrations and charming stories. I love that each line in the story is designed to make reading smooth and fluent with natural breaks in sentences. And I love that my child holds a real book in his hand as he learns to read. 
  • What's not to love about more stories! I especially love the addition of "Bam!" It is a very easy first story that is great for building confidence.
  • I love the additional teaching material in Second Edition. There really are no gaps with this program! Even though there is more teaching material (more work for me, right?), the new edition makes it easier on me and my child.
  • Last but not least, the additional learning material in the Student Activity Book! These are fun, engaging, and a delight to my child. 

What's not to love?

I used to think that All About Reading was teacher intensive. While I loved teaching it once I got started, I had a hard time getting started. I can't just hand my child a workbook and have them work independently - lessons required consistent effort, juggling of cards, cards being dumped out, letter tiles that sometimes fell off the board, and trudging through fluency sheets. But, I figured if I only did 2 reading lessons per WEEK, I'd still complete the program in about 26 weeks. I realized that this program is not only completely doable, but it is a delight to be directly involved in teaching my child with such a thorough program. So, while All About Reading may seem more teacher intensive than other programs, it is well worth the effort and very doable if you are willing to invest 20 minutes a day.

Would I buy Second Edition if I already have the original?

In short, yes! But, it honestly would have been a hard decision if I had not had a chance to review the Second Edition. I've used the first edition to teach two children to read, and I had planned to use it to teach Bo to read too, but I never imagined that they would make so many wonderful improvements, almost double the value, and make it easier to teach and easier to learn to read!! Knowing what I know now, yes, I would. I totally think it is worth it.

Please see our "week in the life" of All About Reading Second Edition for Part 2 of my review!

More All About Reading on Delightful Learning:
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product from All About Learning Press in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. Affiliate links are used in this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.


  1. Bo reading!!! So sweet. We love AAR too... such an awesome program. One I will not sell, even though I'm done with it for now! Too many memories and too much great content for the 'maybe more' children. ;) Love to your fam, Michelle.

  2. Read, Bo, read!! He is growing up too fast. ::melt my heart::

  3. Great job reading, Bo! We're proud of you! Merry :-)

  4. Love it! What a great reader.. Thanks for such a thorough review. I am still in AAR pre-reading with my boy. Miss talking to you on FB. Hope all is well. Would love to catch up sometime. :)

  5. So fun! Wow, Bo is getting so big! Congratulations to another reader in the house! Great job Bo! I love fun school!

  6. Ok, Bo is just too cute and getting so big! I love your reviews (always so clear and helpful) even when we are past the age we can use what you are sharing about. This is a program I absolutely would have used with my boys if it had been available. Silas was already reading when we started K, so we started with AAS. AAR didn't come out until a few years later. He didn't have the confidence to put pen to paper until we used AAS. AAR looks like so much fun, and doesn't look monotonous like many reading programs. The videos are great! Thank you for sharing :)

  7. I think this still sounds so amazing. I've always wanted this, but it is out of our price range and now the updates sound so good. Ahhh... a mama can dream.

  8. So if I have the first edition teaching materials, will I not be able to use the second edition readers with them????

  9. Hello! I’m sure you could line them up with a bit of planning. My volume 2 set is out on loan so I can’t compare the two right now, unfortunately, so I’m not entirely sure. Did you upgrade to the new readers hoping you could use them?