Unleashing the Power of Fluent Reading

SARA’s Books
3 min readMay 25, 2023

Transforming Literacy Education

We believe that fluency is the cornerstone of literacy. Fluent reading is enjoyable reading; it fosters courage in young readers and enhances comprehension and recall of texts. Fluent reading turns emerging readers into avid learners.

However, fluency doesn’t come easy. Even with the best instruction, there remains a significant literacy gap. In fourth grade only one in three readers achieve proficiency and fewer than one in ten are advanced. This gap persists despite numerous efforts to close it.

Our Solution — SARA

To address this challenge, we have developed an innovative solution. SARA (SARAs assessment and recommendation algorithms) uses constant, invisible, and personalized assessment to promote reading fluency. SARA recommends content — reading assignments, stories, articles, books, and more — that best supports fluent reading in that reader at that moment.

Our two-pronged approach elevates the reading experience:

  1. Intentional selection of content, immersing the reader in an experience of fluency by optimizing on personal metrics.
  2. Engaged Aided Reading (EAR), which uses cognitive aids to help with unfamiliar words, easily transitioning disfluency into fluency.

Breaking New Ground

Our review of research suggests that EAR and traditional practices of ‘sounding out words’ are equally effective paths to fluency. This isn’t a widely accepted statement, however. Our biggest challenge to placing emerging readers into our experience of fluency is breaking through the dominant “Science of Reading” perspective that demands intensive phonics instruction. We’re working to shift a paradigm and prove the efficacy of our approach.

Research and Development

We’re conducting rigorous research to validate our hypothesis that distinguishing between orthographically similar words with letter-wise attention can lead to greater uptake of sight words. We’re seeking to fund our research through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Looking Ahead

While we believe an engaged aided reading practice will revolutionize the word-learning aspect of literacy, we understand it’s not a complete suite of literacy or English language arts instruction. We envision engaged aided reading as a supplement that significantly enhances any literacy curriculum, with more ELA-instruction features to be added in future versions of our e-reader app.

Our Perspective on the Science of Reading

The “Science of Reading” perspective champions intensive phonics instruction, but this overlooks the importance and power of sight word fluency. SARA’s Books is committed to providing a more comprehensive approach to literacy education that acknowledges the importance of both sight words and phonics.

Neuroscience and Whole Word Reading

A new generation of neuroscience research reveals that fluent reading involves an automatic recognition of words, not skilled phonemic recoding. This understanding informs our approach to literacy instruction, contributing to the effectiveness of SARA and EAR.

Welcome to the Future of Reading Instruction

We’re driven by the conviction that every child can become a fluent reader. We invite you to help build our innovative solutions to close the literacy gap and foster a generation of confident, proficient readers.