Honest Read Bright Review: Does It Work For Homeschoolers?
I honestly can’t believe I’m writing this Read Bright review.
In fact, I didn’t think I would ever write another reading curriculum review.
I was more than halfway through teaching my third (and last) child to read, and I thought I had found the best curriculum on the market.
But we are living in exciting times, Homeschool Mama.
As homeschooling grows in popularity, our curriculum choices continue to multiply! It seems like every time I turn around, another homeschool friend is telling me about a new curriculum I’ve never heard of!
Read Bright is one of those companies that was originally designed for the classroom, but they are now throwing their hat in the ring with homeschoolers.
And I was skeptical.
Can a curriculum that was made for the classroom setting ever work in a homeschool?
In this Read Bright Review you are going to find out:
- A Little Bit About Read Bright
- What Makes Read Bright Different
- How A Lesson Runs In Our Homeschool
- What I Love About This Reading Curriculum
- What I Would Tweak About Read Bright
- How To Know If Read Bright Is Right For Your Homeschool
What Is Read Bright – In A Nutshell?
Read Bright is a cutting-edge reading curriculum created by Sara Gross, a nationally renowned reading specialist and educational consultant.
It is a solid phonics-based curriculum that uses fun memory techniques to help kids learn (and apply!) all the phonics rules.
Your child will learn about the Kid in the Middle (CVC words), Magic E words (CVC-E words), the Ruling R (R-controlled words), Zippetyzapper, and more!
The highest goal of Read Bright is to help kids progress smoothly through the stages of reading by providing research-backed reading curriculum that is fun for kids!
What Makes Read Bright Different From Other Reading Curriculums Out There?
If you’ve been shopping for a reading curriculum for some time, you may feel a bit overwhelmed.
Aren’t they all the same – some flavor of a phonics curriculum?
Nope, I can tell you from experience that they are all definitely not the same. Reading curriculum can vary greatly on scope, pace, sight word use, cost, and quality.
Read Bright stands out to me because they offer three things that many of the other reading curriculums do not offer.
1. Easy Reader Books That Line Up With Their Lessons
So many great reading programs are missing this vital piece.
Parents are left to purchase their own sets of readers. They can be expensive, and they often don’t match up with your curriculum.
2. Bright, Whimsical Colors And Images Fill Every Page
Many reading curriculums – even the ever popular All About Reading – are in black and white.
3. It Is A Reasonable Cost Compared To Other Premium Reading Curriculums Out There
I would definitely not call Read Bright a budget curriculum, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the cost for a bundle of materials.
It lines right up with other top-shelf options like All About Reading and Sing, Spell, Read, and Write.
How A Read Bright Lesson Runs In Our Homeschool
We jumped into Level 3 and we’re getting to the end of it now.
Most days we just flip open the workbook and see what we have to do. Read Bright is essentially an open-and-go type curriculum.
There are clear directions written to the parent, so you shouldn’t have to reference the Teacher’s Guide too much.
We complete anywhere from 2-4 pages per day, depending on how much time we have and how difficult the pages are.
Every few days, we read one of the easy readers that corresponds with the subject we’re working on.
On days that we don’t have a scheduled reader, I will have my daughter pick one of the previous books to read again. We try to read every day to build fluency and maintain skills.
I would say our lessons take about 30 minutes to complete.
I do not find them too teacher intensive. It feels more like we’re going through the material together, side-by-side.
10 Things I Love About Read Bright
1. It Really Is A Colorful, Bright Curriculum
One of my first impressions of Read Bright was that they have beautiful colors and illustrations like The Good and the Beautiful – but they made them modern!
If you are familiar with TGATB, you know that they have beautiful 1950s-style images that appeal to moms everywhere…but not so much to kids.
Read Bright is full of fun readers and workbook pages that are overflowing with cartoon illustrations that kids love. My own daughter loves staring at the pictures and pointing out all the extra details she finds.
2. The Readers Have A Real Plot
If you have been following me for long, you know that I have talked about boring easy readers that do not have anything that resembles a story.
Kids get bored. You get bored. And everyone dreads reading time.
Not with Read Bright.
They deliver colorful cartoon images AND a real story. No, it is not novel-worthy, but they do pretty well with the 12 pages they have to work with.
My kid loves trying to guess what will happen or how the problem will be solved.
And the ultimate test: I never have to drag her to the couch for reading time. She’s excited to flip open the book and get going!
3. Read Bright Is A Straight-Up Phonics Based Reading Program
If you are a homeschooler, then you probably already know that phonics is highly recommended by literacy research.
From beginning to end, this program is rooted in all things sounding out words, long vowels, short vowels, consonant blends, vowel teams, and more.
You may have to zoom into read the above chart, but it takes you step by step through the entire curriculum scope and sequence.
You can clearly see that phonics is the heart and soul of the lessons.
4. Your Child Will Learn To Mark Up Words Phonetically
Probably one of my favorite features is that the activities in the workbook instruct your child on how to mark up words so they can sound them out.
They will learn to mark vowels, group blends, and other things to help them break words down.
I love that because all of the other curriculum that I have used caused ME to do the marking. This meant that my kids felt dependent on me when they came to a new or challenging word.
Read Bright shows them how to mark those words with confidence, so they can sound it out and move on.
5. Sight Words Are Used Appropriately
Yes, there are sight words, but don’t clutch your pearls too fast, Homeschool Mama.
The sight words are introduced slowly and only 4 at a time. There are only 29 total sight words in an entire level of the curriculum.
That is a minuscule amount compared to what they would have in a traditional school or with other sight word heavy curriculums.
Many of Read Bright’s sight words could be sounded out, but it seems they are introduced early so that the readers can be written in a more interesting way.
In the past, I have also used sight words to teach a phonics rule and make it more approachable.
For example, “Well, you already know /my/, so you won’t have any trouble reading try, dry, and fry today!”
6. Read Bright Readers Include Reading Comprehension
The back of each reader includes a review of the phonics rule the book was focused on and 4 sight words.
It also includes three reading comprehension questions that you or the student can read. The student will then be asked to put three images from the story in order.
This is a great way to check in with your kid at the end of a book and see if they have any idea what they just read.
You may be surprised that with all the work of sounding out words, they might not actually be tracking the story they’re reading.
7. Very Little Writing Involved
I noticed that the workbook pages have very little pencil work/writing.
I love that because young kids often struggle with writing – due to development or other issues. That struggle has caused my daughter to not want to complete her reading lessons at times.
I would get frustrated and think this is reading, not writing! Why is there so much writing involved??
Now Read Bright does have some pencil work, but it is very small compared to Explode the Code or Primary Phonics.
8. Flexible, Self-Paced Reading Curriculum
One of the first things that stood out to me about this curriculum is that it doesn’t have clear “lesson markers.” What I mean by that is the workbook doesn’t tell you how many pages/activities you need to be done for the day.
This is a nice nod to the popular homeschool concept of going at your own pace. Your child could be done for the day after one page, and other days you might go through five!
The homeschool parent doesn’t have to worry about keeping up with a perceived schedule so they don’t feel “behind.”
If you have fallen into that trap, you know it’s a tough one to get out of.
9. The Supplemental Tools Are Not Necessary To Use The Curriculum, But They Are Extremely Well-Made And Helpful
You could easily teach the Read Bright curriculum with just the workbook, readers, and teacher’s manual.
But they do have some extras that are so wonderful to have on hand to support a struggling reader.
My absolute favorite is the More Marvelous Hints book. It is a spiral bound book that I use to review the phonograms we’ve learned. There is so much to remember when it comes to reading, so it’s nice to have a bright, colorful review book to drill with.
All I do is flip through the book with my daughter 1-2 times a week to start out a lesson. It’s a great warm-up, and great way to pinpoint anything she’s struggling to remember.
10. Read Bright Waits To Introduce Multi-Syllable Words Till The End of Their Program
This was a crowning touch for me with this reading program.
Two of the previous programs I have used with my girls introduced syllable division somewhere in the middle of their program.
I find this so bizarre because it tends to overwhelm and discourage young readers – even ones who were doing well up to that point.
****For this reason, I have recommended in other reading curriculum reviews to skip those lessons and come to them later.
Learning about open and closed vowels, double consonants, and consonant-l-e words is a higher-level skill and should be saved till the end of a reading program.
What I Don’t Love About Read Bright
1. The Teacher’s Guide Is Clearly Designed For The Classroom
To be fair, Read Bright has just recently started branching out to homeschooling.
The teacher’s guide just has a few buzzwords in it like “homework” that would send many homeschoolers running for the hills.
I hope Read Bright decides to create a more homeschooling-focused teacher’s guide in the future. Kinda similar to how Saxon Math has a separate classroom and homeschool curriculum line.
In the meantime, I look at the homework sheets and other activities and read them as “extra resources.”
Some kids are going to need those because they require more support in a certain area.
2. The Teacher’s Guide Is On a Flash Drive
This is such a double-edged sword.
Putting the teacher’s guide on a flash drive is a big money saver (much cheaper than a printed version!).
But when you’re juggling a bunch of kids, it can be a big pain to go grab that flash drive, plug it in (if you even have a USB port anymore), and scroll to find what you’re looking for.
Thankfully, the teacher’s guide isn’t needed every day, but I really hope that Read Bright looks at making a printed version or PDF download for those that would prefer it.
Read Bright Curriculum FAQ
1. Do I need to be trained to teach this curriculum?
There is training offered to schools that buy the curriculum, but that is only because the schools require training for their teachers.
Many homeschoolers are already using Read Bright (myself included) – no training required! 🙂
2. What do I need to buy to teach Read Bright?
Read Bright has a wide selection of products, but the core of the curriculum is based on the workbook, readers, and teacher’s guide.
As I said, their supplemental items are worth looking at, but they are not required to teach the curriculum.
Check out the Read Bright products for more details and prices.
3. What level should my kid start with?
Here is a quick rundown of each level:
Level 1: Short Vowels, Diagraphs (ch, sh, etc.), and Blends (st, gl, etc.)
This would be appropriate for Kindergarten-1st grade.
Level 2: Magic E (silent e words like take and cake), vowel teams (words with combined vowels like team and sail)
This is right on point for the 1st grade reader who is already comfortable with short vowels and blending sounds.
Level 3: The Ruling R (Words that are r- controlled, such as torn, car, bird, turn, her, etc.)
This level is appropriate for the 1st – 2nd grade level student.
Level 4: Syllable Division (breaking down multisyllabic words, such as bubble and tiger)
The last book in the series is most appropriate for 2nd grarde students and 3rd grade students in need of review/support.
4. How long does it take to teach one level of Read Bright?
This is completely individual.
It varies based on what age your child started to learn to read, how long their attention span is to sit for a lesson, your homeschool schedule (how many days a week you work on reading), etc.
You could go through one workbook in 6 months or you could stretch it out over a year. That would mean you could complete the whole program in 2-3 years.
Since there are no lesson markers, you really get to go at your own pace without worrying about not “finishing” by a certain timeframe.
The most important thing is that your child is progressing and enjoying the process of learning to read.
5. Is Read Bright a complete reading program?
You will not need to supplement with any other materials or programs unless you want to.
As a bonus, Read Bright also includes spelling and grammar sections!
6. Do I really have to buy the teacher’s guide?
Ah, every homeschool mom wants to know the answer to this question.
Yes, you are going to want to have it. There are a ton of great supplements in it, but there are also directions for short dictation exercises you will want.
7. Where can I buy Read Bright?
At this time, Read Bright is sold exclusively on their website.
Read Bright Is Probably a Good Fit For Your Homeschool If…
- You are sold on using a phonics-based curriculum
- Quick, open-and-go lessons are your jam
- Your kids would rather pick up a colorful book than a black & white book
- You’re not a fan of sight words, but you can take them in small doses
- You really enjoy embracing a self-paced structure for your homeschool
- Your child doesn’t enjoy writing just yet
- You want to raise a solid reader AND a kid who loves reading
- You’re on a homeschool budget, but you have a little room to splurge if the curriculum is right
You Might Want To Pass On Read Bright If…
- You find phonics rules overwhelming
- You prefer the idea of memorizing lots of sight words and using context clues
- You don’t want your child to use any sight words – everything must be sounded out
- You feel comfortable with a more structured lesson plan. For example, you want to see a teacher’s guide that tells you A, B, and C must be completed to end a lesson.
- You’re okay with a black-and-white reader that might be less exciting for your kid
- You have a tight homeschool budget, and you don’t have room for a pricer reading curriculum
Read Bright Review: Final Thoughts
When my oldest daughter was in public school kindergarten, she came home and told me, “Reading is boring!”
I was horrified to hear her say that as we worked through the 100 sight word flash cards she had for homework.
Looking back on that, I shake my head and think, “No wonder she thought it was boring!”
I am so thankful that we jumped off the public school bus and gained access to such wonderful curriculum at home.
Read Bright is a great example of a curriculum that could make all the difference for a student. It takes something that many would find dry and boring – phonics rules – and makes them into bright, colorful cartoons!
As a homeschool parent who is about to start her 7th year of teaching, I just love to see these kinds of companies putting out high-quality curriculum for homeschoolers.
I can’t wait to see what comes out next!
If you still have questions about Read Bright, please let me know!
Drop a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Are you using Read Bright already? My readers and I would love to hear about your experience! Please drop a comment and tell us all the the curriculum things!
Hey, Lauren! Thank you for your blog! I always get excited when “The Simple Homeschooler” emails pop up in my inbox! All About Reading has new color editions. If you had the choice between AAR color edition and Read Bright, which would you choose? And which one has fewer “pieces” or parts? I sometimes have a hard time using all the extra things that come with curriculum. 🙃 Thank you for any help!
Hi Courtney! I did hear about the All About Spelling color editions, but I didn’t know they were extending them into their reading products! I like AAS a lot, but the reading program was very slow and boring for us. All of the steps to get a lesson completed were exhausting. I feel like Read Bright is much more streamlined and flexible. AAR definitely has more pieces to manage with the flashcards. Hope that helps!
How would you compare this to All About Reading?
I briefly did AAR several years ago, and I would say this is very different. AAR lessons were too long and boring for us. These lessons are shorter, more colorful, and they still get the job done. They are about the same pricewise.
What was the reading curriculum that you were previously using? I have been having a hard time making reading fun for my 1st grade son. We are currently trying out The Good and the Beautiful Kindergarten level. So far he is doing good with it.Thanks for any advice you can give me!
Hi Meg, I have used TGATB. You can read my review of it here, if you’re interested. I do find it makes reading boring for kids because the readers have no plot and are painfully dry. I was using Primary Phonics before Read Bright. I had no issues with it, but we had worked through 4 levels of the curriculum and we were just getting a little tired of it. If I wasn’t a blogger, I would have just had her power through. But since I love writing about curriculum…I had no problem checking out something new 🙂