All About Reading Vs. Barton Reading Program

Last Updated on October 9, 2023 by Editorial Team

Reading programs offer more than conventional ways of building skills. These programs involve activities based on multisensory learning and pave the easy path for reading strugglers. Educators devised different approaches to teaching reading skills to give an equal chance of learning to all.

These approaches structured the acquisition process of reading skills and promoted individualized learning for students with dyslexia. Based on such evidence-based approaches, we analyze here All About Reading (AAR) vs. Barton Reading programs comparatively. A brief introduction to both programs first.

What is the All About Reading program?

All About Reading is an Orton-Gillingham approach-based program. It aims at strengthening pre-reading skills. With the use of manipulatives, and various participatory kinds of multisensory learning approaches, the teachers train students to attain reading fluency.

The program imparts skills like word recognition, reading comprehension, and fluency. It takes worries surrounding the learning process away and motivates children to put more effort into gaining mastery in reading skills.

All About Reading: Impact on reading abilities

All About Reading program focuses on five fundamental reading abilities: phonological awareness, spelling, fluency, phonics, and comprehension. This program is designed to help drop-outs, reading beginners, and those with word-level reading difficulties. A lot of its success is attributed to the way it engages students in learning foundational skills.

AAR is designed for people of all ages. Learning gaps are a reality and these emerge in a more glaring manner when the middle and high schoolers are introduced to more complex expositions. Reading interventions like AAR, with their simplicity of learning as well as ease of teaching, allow language learners and coaches to master their literacy skills.

AAR follows a block-building approach allowing learners to gradually build up the complex concepts on the basic ones. Thus, learning gaps are filled with better understanding, and the final outcome is fluent and confident reading.

How it is applied in reading classes

All About Reading program is divided into levels, comprising:

  • Building pre-reading skills: Use of touch, sound, and sight to build the foundation (Pre-reading level)
  • Reinforcement: Activity-based interventions to reinforce learned concepts (Level 1)
  • Review and reinforcement: Introduction of new phonograms, story books used to review progress, and further reinforcement with activities (Level 2)
  • Building comprehension: Games and activities to motivate kids to learn, and apply reading skills to decodable stories to build comprehension (Level 3)
  • Developing fluency: A lot of practice materials and activities were done to help reading learners transition into the fluency phase (Level 4)

Since the sociocognitive approach[1] offers more relatable and application-based ways of gaining literacy skills, the AAR proves its relevance in imparting these skills. The storybooks, activities, and multisensory learning offer the sociocognitive elements in this reading program. The adoption of this program in large numbers and approval from educational boards is a testament to its effectiveness in building reading skills.

What is the Barton Reading Program?

It is a one-on-one tutoring program based on the Orton-Gillingham approach. The program benefits both kids and adult learners trying to cope with dyslexia. Appearing among the list of evidence-based and research-backed reading intervention methods, this program delivers positive impacts on comprehension, reading fluency, and spelling abilities.

Barton Reading Program: Impact on Reading Difficulties

Evidence gathered through studies[2] showed that the program positively builds reading skills in dyslexics. The success of this course is attributed to its direct approach that allows intense and deep focus on the diagnosed problems and working on them one by one. Early reading intervention is important to prevent dropouts and to create better chances of jobs and ultimately, a quality workforce.

A study[3] on literacy skills showed that reading programs produced an enhancement in learning quality, which was a collective outcome of overall enjoyment (about 75%), prediction (more than 70%), picture walk (35%), and rhyming (57%). Barton reading does emphasize all these outcomes; hence, its impact on combatting reading difficulties is noticeable. Moreover, assessment tests further establish the connection between the reading program and the development of literacy skills.

How it is conducted

Barton Reading is a 10-level program[4] spread over bi-weekly sessions conducted over a period of two to four years. Every level is ended with an assessment test to gauge progress. This mastery-based program requires students to show proficiency at the current level before moving to the next one. Its ten levels are:

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Consonant and Vowels
  • Unit and Closed Syllables
  • Multi-syllables and word families
  • Prefix and suffix
  • Understanding of silent E
  • Vowel-R reading principle
  • Advanced Vowels
  • Foreign language influences
  • Root words from Latin and Greek

Very intense, direct, and prescriptive, the levels are no less than building blocks for developing literacy skills. This system starts with general principles, then moves to exceptions, and gradually teaches about the principles of root words, etc. Learners fill all the gaps and can acquire language synthesis proficiency useful for reading fluency.

How these two reading programs are similar or different?

AAR and Barton systems are based on Orton Gillingham’s approach. And, the similarity stops here!

AAR is typically employable for teaching how to read by honing the pre-reading skills of phonics, comprehension, and phoneme blending and decoding. It bases the methods on creating phonemic awareness first, before building more complex skills. There is a spelling course, too, that employs fun activities to make students comfortable with spelling principles like exceptions, the use of synthetic phonics to learn to spell, and CVC concepts.

Barton System adopts a more intensive[5] approach and is intervened with added individualization. It helps second graders who do not display level-appropriate word decoding ability. This system also helps overcome issues of slow and inaccurate reading. By being intensive, it means the course ensures that the student-teacher ratio is never more than 3:1. Also, study hour is kept two hours a week only to disseminate concepts to perfection before moving ahead.

Picking the one…

It is safe to establish on closer inspection that both reading programs have pronounced utility in literacy skills formation and improvement. While making a selection, pay attention to the following points:

  • What aspect of reading skills is poorly developed or entirely missing?
  • Is there a need for one-on-one, intensive training?
  • Time available for learning skills
  • Access to individualized learning procedures and resources
  • Budget available for taking up programs

Both programs are designed in such a way that the learner can pick from the level where proficiency is lacking. The tutors may take the review of the performance to suggest the level of entry. The use of phonics instructions, multisensory learning, and comprehension-building resources makes these programs suitable for everyone ranging from kindergarteners to adults.


Reading intervention programs have provided better opportunities to learn. These offer a scripted teaching plan to the tutors, which eases the teaching woes. Inclusion and better learning are the main reasons why these reading programs gain traction among struggling readers.

The challenge of motivating and engaging kids in learning loses teeth considerably due to the participatory and activity-based nature of these reading programs. Another important utility lies in deciding homeschooling curriculum as these programs can provide a well-designed learning module.


  1. Tracey S. Hodges, Luxi Feng, Li-Jen Kuo & Erin McTigue | Sandro Serpa (Reviewing Editor) (2016) Discovering the literacy gap: A systematic review of reading and writing theories in research, Cogent Education, 3:1, DOI: 10.1080/2331186X.2016.1228284
  2. Mihandoost, Z., & Elias, H. (2010). The Effectiveness of the Barton’s Intervention Program on Reading Comprehension and Reading Attitude of Students with Dyslexia. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 5(2), 43-52.
  3. Pelatti, C. Y., & Piasta, S. B. (2017). Improving Literacy Outcomes for At-Risk Kindergartners through an Afterschool Tutoring Program: Results from a Feasibility Study. Frontiers in Education, 2, 265527.
  4. Giess, S., Rivers, K., Kennedy, K., & Lombardino, L. (2012). Effects of multisensory phonics-based training on the word recognition and spelling skills of adolescents with reading disabilities. International Journal of Special Education, 27(1), 60-73.
  5. Bray, D., & Bray, D. (2014). Recent Research supporting the Barton Reading and Spelling System | Ladder Learning Services LLC. Ladder Learning Services LLC.

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