Reading Bear has enjoyed excellent preliminary reactions from a wide variety of
online sources. The following is just a selection, most of this in reaction to our
2011 launch, not to the full set of 50 presentations that we completed in August
Our Favorite Endorsements & Mentions
Larry Ferlazzo added us to three "best of" lists. Phonics teaching expert
Don Potter said that the exercises on which Reading Bear is based "have proven highly
effective with all kinds of students, even those who had failed with high-dollar
dyslexia methods. You have remained true to" those exercises. Top reading expert
Timothy Shanahan profiled us in a blog post and wrote, "It
has some good features. Probably the best is that it sounds words out for the children,
showing them graphically how the sounds match the letters (try to do that with a
workbook). … [Its various features] can help keep kids interested." The Next Web called us "a neat online tool" and MakeUseOf called us "very user-friendly" and later put us on its "Cool Website and Tools" list praising
our "creatively crafted media." We were profiled in Brandon Lutz's influential "60 in 60"
presentation. We also got a nod from Tennessee First Lady Chrissy Haslam.
One of the most-followed teacher-bloggers and Twitterers is Larry Ferlazzo, so we were particularly pleased to have
his approval, November 3, 2011: "Reading Bear is a new free interactive site for
teaching beginning readers through the use of phonics in a relatively engaging way.
It doesn't appear that registration is necessary, and they say it will remain free.
It's from WatchKnowLearn, the well-respected and well-known educational video site."
Ferlazzo also added it to his "Best Articles & Sites for Teachers & Students to Learn About
Phonics," the "Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner
Sites," and the "Best Websites to Help Beginning Readers.
Next, an expert about phonics teaching,
Don Potter. Don emailed us with this unsolicited praise:
Rudolf Flesch [author of Why Johnny Can't Read] would be pleased to see his
method translated into modern technology:
I have dedicated many years to studying and understanding the linguistics and psychology
behind Flesch's 72 Exercises. I have taught them to many younger and older students.
The exercises have proven highly effective with all kinds of students, even those
who had failed with high-dollar dyslexia methods. You have remained true to Flesch.
I commend you and all the people who helped with the Reading Bear project, which
obviously was an incredibly complex and lengthy process. I appreciate everyone's
dedication to seeing the project through to completion. Now we can really get busy
promoting it so illiteracy can become a Thing of the Past.
It will prove particularly helpful to bilingual students since the meanings of the
words are illustrated in sentences, something crucially important for bilingual
Beginning Reading Help sent us more traffic than any other
blog. (Thanks!) They list three websites for "teaching kids to read for FREE" and
Reading Bear is placed first, with this comment: "How is this possible? It's possible,
because there are generous people in the world who know what works and want to share
it. … I've been registered with Reading Bear for almost a year. These reading sites
are as good or better than most software and online subscription sites I've used."
Now let's look at some other "ranking" education bloggers, and others who gave us
long, detailed write-ups.
- Top reading expert Timothy Shanahan profiled us in a blog post and said "It has
some good features. Probably the best is that it sounds words out for the children,
showing them graphically how the sounds match the letters (try to do that with a
workbook). … [Its various features] can help keep kids interested."
- Paul Hamilton's blog states, "good phonics resources are always
needed. I believe the one I'm writing about here may have potential to help develop
sight vocabulary as well." He also praises "the exceptional quality of the site
as a whole."
- Another top-ranked ed blog, Free Technology for Teachers, picked up on Hamilton's link and
added that Reading Bear "could be a good independent activity or an activity that
children work through with the assistance of a parent or tutor… [I]t could be a
great support and practice resource."
- Oklahoma City Public Schools put us in their February 2012 newsletter:
"If you like Starfall, then you will like Reading Bear! … Phonics, vocabulary and
comprehension are all presented in fun and interactive ways for students to practice.
… This is all FREE!!!!"
EdSurge Newsletter 039 included a short write-up, Nov. 9, 2011.
- Wired Academic profiled us Nov. 21, 2011 and nominated us for
the "Best Free Web Tool" in the Edublog Awards.
- Librarian's Quest had a very detailed write-up of the site on
Nov. 22, 2011 and added "Did you hear that clanking click? That would be me adding
Reading Bear into my virtual toolbox to use with my students."
- NCS-Tech was full of praise and gives
a very detailed overview, complete with multiple screenshots: "an awesome resource
for early learners… I immediately knew I wanted to take a closer look and share
it here. … [A] very impressive effort. … The graphics are crisp and clear, and so
are the videos… I'm really impressed with Reading Bear."
- Click This was "totally excited about Reading Bear. One, it's
FREE. Two, it's a product from a company in my home state - Mississippi. … This
is a 'must see and use application' for educators and parents alike. … I'm certainly
Crayons & Mice says, "If you like to use Starfall with your students, you
will like Reading Bear too! … It is great to present during whole group or small
group instruction! … One feature I really like to turn on is the video of someone
showing how the mouth looks when saying a particular word. For your visual and kinesthetic
learners this could be a very important feature to have on for them to see what
their mouth should look like when speaking a word. … Reading Bear is a great website
to help young students with their reading skills."
The Education Technology and Mobile Learning blog not only did a write-up, they
even did a video
review which called us "really awesome."
- The HubPages "Learn Things Web" listed "Websites that Teach Children How to Read," and at the top of
the list came Reading Bear: "This website is wonderful because it actually sounds
out a large number of words. If a child is having a hard time with the idea that
sounds go together to make words, Reading Bear will be a big help. They will probably
start to understand very quickly with regular exposure to this website."
- Jimmy Kilpatrick's Education News reproduced one of Larry's blog posts about Reading
Technology Tailgate has a post from a literacy specialist who calls us "a fun,
interactive website that helps students learn to read. It reviews all the main phonics
rules and guides students through hands-on practice."
Other education bloggers include Technology Links I have found!
, Timbuktu to Technology
("worth checking out for those
teaching phonics to early learners and beginning ESL students"), Teach Like a Rockstar
, Thoughts from the Classroom
(on Diigo "I also have some
sites that will be great for my students to use such as 'Reading Bear,' …"), About.com's
Children With Special Needs
, Tech Coach
(top link in a "Learning to Read Early" list),
College Wood Office Blog
("looks like a cool website"), Technology Ideas for EC Teachers
, YES Technology Chat
, doug – off the record
, Mantz's Mission
(site of the day), FreeStuff Education
, Educational Technology from REMC12 East
Tech My Class
("Teachers this is a great way to keep young
learners engaged in learning to read. In our digital rich society what an amazing
tool for both teachers and children, Reading Bear is a must for early education."),
Beginning Reading Help
, Friendship Elementary Media Tech Place
, Inverness Primary Media Portal
"a real 'keeper' …[T]ake a look at this great resource. It will be worth your while!"),
Italian Bilingual School
's Newsletter (Leichhardt, NSW, Australia) mentioned
Let's not forget the homeschooling blogs, such as Julie and Technology, a Pinterest pinboard ("Our middle two children go through
a lesson on this program at lunchtime daily. This homeschooling mom gives it FIVE
stars; it tops the list of all the supplemental online reading sites that we've
used thus far. … Just went through the tutorial and the first lesson with Will.
I'm very impressed and will be using it at school, too! … This is awesome! Very
impressed!"), Home School Parent ("My five year old is just starting to
read, and we were both super excited to find Reading Bear. … [Y]ou will definitely
want to explore Reading Bear yourself."), My Little Home School ("I was pleasantly surprised when
I discovered it was FREE, and even more thrilled to see this is exactly what she
needed. We started the lessons yesterday and she loved it."), twistedbrainfreeze, Mike and Katie (a long write-up explaining how they
use Reading Bear with their toddler), Are We There Yet?, Teaching Baby to Read Blog, Wise Owl Homeschool, Project4Peace ("I really like the real object
photos the simple but not childish voice and images"), and Sheri's blog.
General Tech Blogs
Some blogs that focus on new Internet and tech stories also noticed us:
- The top-ranked tech blog,
The Next Web, described us in detail on November 2, 2011, and praised us as
a "neat new online tool." The post was widely reposted and linked.
TNW followed up on Nov. 19 with a long interview with Reading Bear editor
Techie Buzz is another high-profile tech blog and they did an excellent report
on the same day. They called us a "great new tool to teach kids how to read. … The
project has some strong backing, including its Editor-in-Chief, Larry Sanger, co-founder
of Wikipedia. The website has a beautifully illustrated and child-friendly design.
… I believe endeavors like this are worthy of community support. They believe in
equal access to education and that everyone should have the opportunity to learn.
Hopefully, they will gain support and, more importantly, many children will learn
to read from this project."
MakeUseOf, another high-profile tech blog, wrote (Nov. 8, 2012) that Reading
Bear teaches kids vocabulary and phonics "with the help of creatively crafted media.
It happens to be easier for a child to learn stuff when he is shown 'pictures, presentations
and sound clips'. The website is very user-friendly…" The same site later twice
(Jan. 23 and Jan. 29, 2012)
us on its "Cool Website and Tools" list praising our "creatively crafted
District, School, Classroom, and Library Link Lists and Education Directories
Reading Bear has made its way onto various education listings and directories as
- TeachersFirst, an
educational resource directory, profiled us, describing us as "a systematic program"
that is "an excellent resource," and making us a
Featured Site for the week of May 6, 2012.
Plano Independent School District (Plano, TX) gave us special billing atop their
list of language arts web sites for primary students. We got a lot of traffic from
this. Thanks, PISD!
ICTMagic is another education website directory and there we are described as
"A well made site for teaching young learners phonics through interactive video
- The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development of the Austrialian state
Victoria listed us.
Other listings are by Pennsylvania Avenue School (Atlantic City, NJ), Plattsmouth Community Schools (Plattsmouth, NE), Mrs. Turhune's wiki, Bancroft Elementary School (Minneapolis, MN;
#2 spot in the "Language Arts Links"), Wells Elementary School (Wells, ME; Link of the Week), Marion County Public Library (Lebanon, KY), Manhattan Beach Unified School District (Manhattan
Beach, CA), The Pike
School (Andover, MA),
Good Spirit School Division (east central Saskatchewan), Indian Prairie School District 204 (Aurora, IL),
Elementary School and
Greystone Lower Elementary School (Oklahoma City, OK), William H. Rowe School (Yarmouth, ME), Mrs. Bishop's class, First Regional Library (northwest MS),
QZAB Teachers wiki,
Mills Primary School (Martinsburg, WV; first link under "Students"), Garnet Valley School District (Glen Mills, PA), Hawk Ridge Elementary (Charlotte, NC), Fort Dodge Community School District (Fort Dodge,
IA), Woodland Elementary
School (Zephyrhills, FL), Fun Tech Coaches, and Miss Olson's first grade class, Haw River Elementary School (Haw River, NC).
A speech therapist also listed us.
The homeschool community has begun discovering Reading Bear. From the biggest, the
- "This program is great for kids who are visual learners."
- "If he knows all his letter sounds and just needs help with the blending I'd probably
use Reading Bear with him www.readingbear.org – it's free and concentrates on blending
initially cvc words and then slightly higher order phonics too…"
- "For reading, if I had to do it for $0 or as close to that as possible, I'd use
the following: Readingbear.org and starfall.com for the fun factor… "
- "Amazingly, my DD enjoys doing the 'flashcards' on ReadingBear."
- "Starfall.com and readingbear.org are two good free sites for reading."
- "I really love the Reading Bear site. … It is such a wonderful resource. I am so
excited to hear it might be finished this summer."
- "If you like media for educational things how about trying ReadingBear.org and/or
Starfall.com, Progressive Phonics along with some readers from the library until
you get up and going. That might get you through the basic slump of reading."
- "BTW I never heard of readingbear.org until this post. WHAT a blessing! I saved
- "I've found using a program like Reading Bear (www.readingbear.org) is very helpful.
Its great for visual learners."
- "This has been a huge help for my little one to actually learn to blend the sounds.
I really like it."
SecularHomeschool.com: "Some kids have a hard time comprehending
how letter sounds go together to make words. Reading Bear sounds out lots of words,
so it may help him grasp the concept." "My youngest is also a visual learner, but
so far computer learning has been hit and miss. Right now he dislikes T4L but loves
Then there are general parenting forums, such as DiaperSwappers.com: "It's completely free and looks pretty
good. … Hopefully some more people can benefit from this." babycenter.com: "My 5 year old has been enjoying it."
The place where they probably love us the most, however, is the BrillKids.com Forum, where parents congregate to discuss
how to teach babies and preschoolers (and where Larry Sanger is "DadDude"). The
vast quantity of raves from them is just embarrassing. We're blushing! Here is only
a small sample:
- "We just started using Reading Bear, and we love it!!! She calls all of her teddy
bears 'Reading Bear'"
- "I started to show it to my [daughter], not expecting much… She was INSISTING on
the second presentation, after we were done watching the first one. I think what
makes it so attractive that the words are sounded out AND their meaning is explained
using picture, video, and by using the word in the sentence! … DD started sounding
out letter sounds while using Reading Bear for the first time, without me even explaining
her anything! The funniest thing that my 9 month old son crawls with a rocket speed
to the computer, one he hears Reading Bear is on."
- "I have been using Reading Bear.org to practice phonics with my DD for a week now.
(I was showing Reading Bear YouTube video of short 'a' presentation every other
day; plus a, b, or c part of short 'a' presentation once a day.) Today I decided
to quiz her. She was right 8 times out of ten! I recommend to everyone to give this
program a try! What I like about this program after using it for a week is that
it is Very Versatile! : you can pick your own settings to suit the attention span
of your child."
- "Reading Bear looks very professional -- and it's amazingly free! The woman who
pronounces the words and does the voiceovers nails it, managing to be neither dull
nor obnoxiously animated. Her voice is also very clear and soothing. The pictures
and video are great, and of course each word being underlined as it is pronounced
is fantastic. And then there's the art and musical interludes -- icing on an already
"There are so many products that costs substantial $$$ and have never been quite
what we needed. Then you come along with something that is just right FOR FREE!!
The quality is amazing. … I really have no fitting words. THANK-YOU!!"
Finally, someone (not us) posted the question, How effective is the Reading Bear
learn to read program?" The response from the three people (we're not including
Larry Sanger) who had actually used the program were all extremely positive:
- "We have just started using Reading Bear with my daughter who is 2 years, 4 months
old. She loves it! … Since we started using Reading Bear, she has been able to take
what she learned on that program and use it elsewhere. For example, she now tries
to sound out words she sees instead of guessing at it by looking at pictures. Reading
Bear is designed for older kids, but if your child knows their consonant sounds,
it is a wonderful program."
- "[My son] can read all the words in the first five lessons of the program. As a
parent, the thing I appreciate most (other than the price), is that it keeps track
of where the child is. You can choose to pick up where you left off or start with
something completely new. As a busy parent, this is so helpful. … [S]ome days Reading
Bear is the only phonics instruction we manage to accomplish and there really isn't
an excuse for not doing it because it is just a click away. … My son is now just
2 and knows all the words in the first five lessons of Reading Bear. … The site
is user friendly (as in easy peasy) and professional. I can't recommend it enough."
- "I have used Reading Bear for more than just reading! It is great for speech also.
My son is 2.75 and possibly on the spectrum. He had 2 major speech regressions within
6 months of each other. Since using Reading Bear his articulation has improved exponentially.
And he no longer is dramatically speech delayed. He loves to watch Reading Bear,
he loves to say the words. It had also helped his phonics decoding abilities. …
Reading Bear has given him increased phonological awareness. He was never able to
understand or hear sounds being blended. But now he has no problems with that! He
actually balks at any phonics instruction that I try to give him because it is too
challenging. Reading Bear is the exception and he often requests it instead. I know
that with more Reading Bear time and practice he will be able to blend and decode
independently with ease very soon."
About Reading Bear in other languages
It turns out that Reading Bear has been used for teaching English as a second language.
(The following quotations are edited "translations" based on Google Translate.)
- We got an enormous amount of traffic from a mention in the Spanish-language wwwhat's new
- The Chinese TechWeb had nice things to say (and fetched lots of traffic
and reposts): "Reading Bear is a free and lovely website that teaches children how
to read. … Opening the site is like entering a fairy tale world…"
- A top traffic-getter was the Russian lifehacker.ru writeup about us: "The Reading Bear project teaches
you how to pronounce even the most complex words. [The site] is simple and clear
with numerous examples to explain the basic phonetic rules."
blog in Tamil sent us a huge amount of traffic.
- Another Spanish-language blog pointed out the learning possibilities
for Latin America: "In Latin America there are millions of people studying a second
language. A high percentage is focused on learning English. Undoubtedly, Reading
Bear focuses on teaching children. But the platform is a classroom for bilingual
teaching, looking for new forms of digital teaching, as well as children beginning
to discover the world of the Internet. Projects like Larry Sanger's gives us the
perfect excuse to spend more time in the wonderful world of the web. And while bringing
our nephews, cousins, and brothers, why not bring our parents and grandparents too."
We also received other mentions in Spanish ("It is an easy and enjoyable way to learn some
complex principles of phonetics… It is flexible… It could be especially useful in
remedial reading programs"), Spanish again, again, again, again, again, again, again, Thai ("It is a very great website."),
again, again, again (this one is detailed), Dutch ("Reading Bear just looks very good"),
excellent for every need and suitable for kids and adults…you will benefit from
Russian ("a cool website that you can use to teach children English.
Now I use it heavily with the baby, he loves it!"), Russian again ("I'm sure you and your child will like it"),
Telugu, Chinese, Vietnamese ("cute, attractive"), Vietnamese again (commenters prefer us to Starfall),
We've had a lot of traffic from Gizmo's Freeware (and here and here too).
Reddit sent us a lot of traffic: "Wow! I'm pleasantly surprised by this
site! I hadn't heard of it before, and being involved in ECE it's going to come
in handy. I LOVE that they included videos of people speaking the words."
The website of a phonics book, Phonics Fast, puts Reading Bear at the top of its recommendations:
"I'm not a big fan of the free online phonics games and tools out there but this
program really does seem to be on the right track. As a interactive lesson Reading
Bear is probably the best. I don't feel it can replace a teacher and it is definitely
not designed to improve writing skills but as a interesting activity children can
play with it is not a time waster."
Of course, we have also been collected on social bookmarking sites like delicious.com, diigo.com ("a well-made site for teaching young learners
phonics through interactive video presentations"), Scoop.it, and JogTheWeb.com.
Last but certainly not least, we got a nod from Tennessee First Lady Chrissy Haslam.