Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Reviewing Reading Kingdom: An Online Program with the Tools to Turn Kids into Successful Readers

Using an online program to learn to read.

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew. 

Our four-year-old son has always been interested in reading, so I jumped at the chance to review Reading Kingdom—which is an online grades K-3 reading program using "Phonics-PLUS." Reading Kingdom contains a placement test as well as reading and writing lessons divided into five levels. Each level takes approximately 10-15 weeks to complete depending on the number of sessions completed each day.

As the Reading Kingdom states "to ensure success, a child should use the program at least 4 days a week," we set out to do lessons each day. With the only exception occurring over Easter Weekend, we have been able to use Reading Kingdom with only occasional one day breaks every four days or so. Our son enjoys his 'program' so much that he was disheartened when we took a day off for his sister's birthday party.

During the placement test, parents are told to offer no assistance (which is hard!) but very important to make sure that the adaptive program knows exactly what your child knows and does not know. During the initial placement test, Reading Kingdom goes over how to type capital letters and how you navigate through the program.

In the beginning, our son seemed to struggle because he was learning a new skill—using the keyboard. He had very limited experience using a mouse and almost no experience typing on a keyboard prior to starting the review of Reading Kingdom. He was very disappointed after the first lesson or two but after he learned how to type – and I adjusted the response time to give him more time before the program prompted him with the correct answer, he began to thoroughly enjoy working each day. We have also taken advantage of the "Getting to Know the Mouse and Keyboard" training exercises on several occasions.

Using the keyboard and mouse to learn how to use the Reading Kingdom program.

There are many different ways in which children are taught reading and writing using Reading Kingdom. For example, in Reading and Writing Level One, children are taught new words through Pick the Picture, Detect and Select, and the reading of books. Reading Kingdom provides Sample Lessons which further explain how children are taught in levels 1 through 5.

Reading Kingdom provides four simple questions to see if your child is ready to use their program:
  1. "Can your student regularly sit and carry out school-like activities for 15 minutes at a time?" 
  2. "Does your student consistently speak in sentences?" 
  3. "Can your student match shapes?"
  4. "Can your student hold crayons or magic markers to create drawings?" 

Is your child ready to use the Reading Kingdom to learn how to read.

For more detailed information you can download "How is the Reading Kingdom different from other reading programs?" which provides a thorough explanation of how Reading Kingdom works and why it is better than other programs available. This PDF is available on the page "Why it works" and it goes through the six skills that your child will work on while using Reading Kingdom.

Since reading requires six skills, Reading Kingdom focuses upon all six using Dr. Marion Blank's "Phonics-PLUS" system. The six skills that Reading Kingdom focuses upon are:
  1. Sequencing (letter order)
  2. Writing
  3. Sounds (the program uses activities like 'bit blends' and 'orthographic phonemics' to teach phonology) 
  4. Meaning (semantics; learning the correct meaning of the word from context)
  5. Grammar (syntax) 
  6. Comprehension (text)
These 6 skills will help your child learn to read more easily. Reading Kingdom does not just focus on memorizing words but teaches words that can be used in "meaningful sentences" by your child. Children are taught spelling, pronunciation, meaning, and context before they are presented with a book. At the end of each of our son's lessons, there is a book that uses all the words that they have worked on the previous several days.

How We Use Reading Kingdom

Each day, our four-year-old completes at least one day's lesson of Reading Kingdom online. We start on the screen that lists our son's progress. As you can see from the screen capture, it states how many days per week your child has been using Reading Kingdom, as well as the link to change how your child interacts with the program and the response time.

Dashboard of the Reading Kingdom; how many days per week a child uses the online program

From this screen, you can also click on the individual parts of the level for a further breakdown to see how your child has progressed and the performance as rated by Reading Kingdom.

Lessons overview for the Reading Kingdom in which children learn to read.

One of the activities—Find and Fill—is choosing the correct word that can become the focus word (or "word of the day" as my son calls it). In this instance, our son needed to choose the word that could become 'swim.' He then is asked to type in the correct missing letters.

Picking the correct word for Reading Kingdom.

Another activity—Detect and Select—that our son completes within the Reading Kingdom program requires him to choose the word as it appears in text. In this photograph, the word he had to choose was 'not.' 

Having to pick the correct word in text.

There are also parts of the daily lesson—Pick the Picture—that require our son to correctly select a picture of the focus word and then type it. In this case, the word was "plane." If your child gets stuck on a letter, the program offers prompting to aid them in their spelling.

Selecting the correct picture for the word in Reading Kingdom.

There is also a student report feature which I haven't really used a lot as I feel like all the information is available to me on the dashboard screen. It is something that can be emailed so if you are having them complete the work elsewhere (e.g., at a grandparent's house), you can have the information reported to you without having to log into Reading Kingdom at home.

Report on Microsoft Excel for the Reading Kingdom.

I shared a short video of our son using Reading Kingdom on A Mom's Quest to Teach's Instagram

Great Features / What We Like

  • Ability to adjust the response time necessary 
  • The additional keyboard and mouse training 
  • The variety of ways that the vocabulary is introduced and taught 
  • Each day's lessons are brief—which is perfect for our four-year-old's attention 
  • The Passport book that gets new features every 20,000 points (Our son just loves seeing what will happen each day and eagerly calls over everyone in the house as he opens it.) 
  • It is adaptive—one of the words Reading Kingdom asked our son to spell was 'toys'—since he spelled it correctly on the first slide, the lesson skipped through several slides for the word 'toys.'
  • The words being taught are ones that help build real sentences (Our son has even taken to typing his own sentences on my laptop using the words he has learned.) 
  • If necessary, your child can redo a lesson or skip a lesson or level 
  • Has a unique way for helping children type capital letters—they can tap the shift key prior to the letter rather than holding shift and the letter key (there were a few occasions when there were some problems with the program recognizing the capital letter) 
  • Bright colorful images
  • Cute animation 
  • Clear speaking voice instructing our son what to do 
  • Opportunity to pause during the lesson (for 12 minutes)

A sentence learned while completing an online lesson with the Reading Kingdom.

Few Problems We Had Using the Program 

  • Did not always recognize the use of shift and letter keys to capitalize a letter 
  • There were times when we needed to reload or refresh the page 
  • Sometimes the voice instructions would start prior to the lesson actually starting—refreshing the page fixed this problem 

Final Thoughts 

I highly recommend taking a look at the Reading Kingdom website to learn more information. There is even a 30-day free trial if you want to try the online program for yourself!

We have only used the program on my laptop but Reading Kingdom states it works on any device with an Internet connection—including Windows, Mac, iPad, Android, and Chromebooks. 

We have been very happy with Reading Kingdom and will continue to use it in our home to help our son grow in his reading, writing, and spelling. 

Other Options 

ASD Reading Program Logo

In addition to Reading Kingdom, there is also another program that may be of interest to you: ASD Reading. ASD Reading is a reading program designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ages 4-10 who may or may not already be reading. They offer a 30-day free trial if you want to try it for your child.

To Learn More 

Reading Kingdom Logo

To learn more about the Reading Kingdom, please visit the following sites:

Website – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram

To read more reviews of the Reading Kingdom and ASD Reading, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew


  1. What an interesting program. I like that it includes instructions for keyboard skills. Many programs see to assume children come with this knowledge and it can frustrate children.

    I also like that it offers the ability to adjust answering time. This lessens the need for wild guessing as kids can take the time to think about an answer rather than grabbing for one before they time out.

    Another thing I like about using computer programming that is done well is the ability to compact learning automatically as you mentioned with it acknowledging that he knew toys and therefore didn't need every lesson prepared to learn that word. That can be a huge advantage for kids who get frustrated, bored, and lose interest when forced to work through information already mastered.

    Great review and sounds like a wonderful program.

    1. Thank you!

      I was also happy to see the keyboarding 'games' and finding the settings for adjusted the time was great (also means I need to read the instructions more closely because it was mentioned early on). Anything that allows us to modify and set up a more personalized approach is fantastic in my eyes.