Introducing Easyread 2.0

Over the past two years, we have been working on a big update to the Easyread System. We have now completed a major overhaul of the lessons.

What’s new for Easyread 2.0?

You can now find:

  • Much more detailed tracking of learners’ progress

reading zone speed

  • A more adaptive, interactive library system, replacing the previous daily reading activity

new library

  • A more consistent visual environment

paintball 1

  • Better support for different accents


  • An improved selection of games


As of November 2015, all new learners on the system will see the fully updated lessons, and we have been migrating existing users across for several months now; most users will already have been using the new lessons for some time.

As well as new activities for learners, we have added a new way for parents, teachers and tutors to keep track of a learner’s progress. The data we record during lessons is now fed directly into a series of graphs which can be viewed from within the admin zone of your account, making it easier to see a learner’s progress in reading and spelling.

The future

The current update should be a big improvement on the previous system, but there are further features we would like to add in the near future. Large parts of the new system do now work on iPads and other tablets, but we still need to spend some time over the coming months replacing the few remaining activities which require the Flash plugin (not generally available on mobile devices), and also to make sure that all our activities work well with a touchscreen interface.

While creating the new system we have taken on board a lot of user feedback, removing or modifying some of our less popular games and designing new activities which are hopefully a lot more adaptable, with a wider range of difficulty. However, since the new system has almost all been made using the same technology (HTML5), it will also be much easier in the future for us to modify the system based on user feedback.

Help us keep creating a programme that’s loved by all

If you have any feedback on what you do or don’t like about the lessons, please do let us know and we will endeavour to implement your suggestions in a future update!

- Matt, developer at Oxford Learning Solutions


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She progressed 4 levels in her reading in the space of one 12 week term…

We have found EasyRead to be an enormous help in encouraging our 5/6 year old to sound out words instead of guessing based on pictures and single letters. She has also found the games and prizes to be very motivating. After starting EasyRead, she progressed 4 levels in her reading in the space of one 12 week term. Her teacher is very pleased with her progress.

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Spooky Stories for Halloween, written by our Easyread writers

For Halloween this year, we invited our Easyread writers to send us their spookiest short stories, for the chance to have their work appear in a new book in the Easyread library, Spooky Stories, where all the other children on the programme could read it.

They made us laugh, they made us scared, but perhaps most important of all, they made us very proud.

The tales of groups of friends destroying the bad guys like Frankenstein and Junior Frankar, or the eery black smoke, or the zombies, or that bad Thief Stealing the Beef, left us with a heart-warming feeling at the end.

Sometimes, the bad guy like the DareDevil or the cloaked mist wasn’t overcome, and that had us on the edge of our seats wanting to find out what happens next!

The imagination and creativity was superb; the story-telling style gripping, and the spelling was so great!

As you know, we had to pick three winners, and we are delighted to announce the 3 winning stories that will become part of Spooky Stories as:

The Green Moon, by Sienna

Trick or Treat, by Eloise

The Spooky Surprise, by Sebastian

Congratulations guys! Your story will be appearing on the top bookshelf of the Easyread library very soon!

And a big well done to everyone who entered the competition – the standard of entries was so high, it really was a tough call! We hope you’re as proud of your efforts as we are, and a little prize is on its way to each of you to say thank you for entering.

We’ll be running further writing competitions in the future and we hope to see you all there again soon.

For those of you who would like to read Sienna, Eloise and Sebastian’s stories now, you can find them published in this blog post below.

A big congratulations again to our winners and our runners up, and we look forward to reading your writing in the programme and in all future competitions.

Happy Halloween!

The Green Moon

Sienna, aged 8

It was a windy afternoon. We were setting up camp on a small farm with some of our friends. We had all been looking forward to spending the last weekend in October together, exploring the historic buildings and playing with the farm animals.

We left the adults to unpack and we started exploring. There were lots of little sheds, filled with dusty things. There were rusty old bikes and telephones and even old saddles for little kids.

Anna saw a baby ant and she said, “I want to raise you little guy and we will have a happy life together”, I said “No, don’t touch”. We walked along, Billy was bored out of his skull, he wanted to play. He found a den and he said, “I’m a boy and I can put my hand in this den.” Everyone shouted “NO BILLY!”

Further along we came across some old tin cans and two vases. Summer wanted to touch them, but I said, “For the last time, don’t touch anything! Besides, it’s getting late, we should head back to camp”. But Summer didn’t listen. She made a plan, she was going to touch it at night.

Everyone ate dinner, it was delicious. It was probably because we couldn’t wait for marshmallows.

It was very dark by now, the moon was another colour, as in yellowish, but it was still lighting our way as we went off to play hide and seek. I counted to 51 and then called out “ready or not, here I come”.

I heard a noise, it sounded like a scary noise, and I knew where it was coming from. It was coming from the den Billy had found earlier. I went to check it out. A big bat flew straight at me. Then I heard a noise like someone stepping on a stick, but it wasn’t, it was an animal. A gigantic bull ant with a red stripe on its back came for me again and again. I ran behind the old stuff which Summer had found earlier but then a cobra slithered out of a vase and I was so close to being bitten. But then I heard “how-woooooool” and creatures from all around ran, flew and slithered towards the sound.

I was alone, I fainted.

Seven minutes later I found myself waking up to wild animal noises. The moon shone a strange green light upon me and I could just make out the eyes of creatures approaching me. I looked to the left, I looked to the right, and I looked all around me. I wailed!

But then, I noticed the bat had the greeny-blue eyes of my friend Billy. He had become Billy the Brain-Eating-Bat! Then I recognized the ant, it was Anna the Blood-Thirsty-Bull-Ant! Summer was there as well, she had become Summer the Snarling-Snot-Spitting-Snake! The hairy leg of a gigantic tarantula brushed passed my arm. I recognised it as my brother, I knew it was him. My brother had become Taine the Terrible-Toothy-Tarantula!

I run off, as fast as I can, and I see an old shed with a rusty padlock on it, but the door is not locked. I run into the room and lock myself in. I look out the window and then see the whole moon is completely green, green like slime. I lock the window and try to calm myself down by reading a book. There were books to the top and books to the bottom, it must be an old library. But there was a book, the dustiest of all, on the table. I went to check it out.

I blew the dust away and I looked carefully at the title. I repeated it in my head over and over again “Green Moon, Mean Moon, Halloween Moon”. Then I open the book, I read it. It was a spell to turn all my friends back into normal people!

I peeked out the window and could see the creatures coming closer. I chant at the top of my lungs, “Turn the clock upside down and make the clock reverse. Bring back what was mine, what once was mine”. Suddenly all of my peers came back as humans. They said “What just happened?”

We headed back to the camp. I looked at the moon. It was plain shiny white again. It was still full. We sat around the camp fire with a big bag of marshmallows and I told them all the story of the Green Moon.

Trick or Treat 

Eloise, aged 6

My name is Eloise and this is my true story.

Last year on the 31st October when night had fallen, we were getting dressed up for trick or treating. I was dressed as fabulous orange pumpkin and Katie my big sister was a wicked purple witch. Mummy had painted our faces so that we looked really scary- and quite cool too! Daddy had put up Halloween lights so that the whole hall shone green and had made the best jack o’lanterns ever! We were ready to go trick or treating with our friends and I was full of excitement.

tiny pumpkin

scary scarecrow

At the first house we knocked loudly on the door and sang “Trick or Treat!” Our neighbour gave us some chocolates and we squealed in delight and then we were off again. Trick or treating carried on as we knocked on the doors of the spookily decorated houses, each kind person rewarding us with some yummy sweets. This continued until …

… the last house on Willow Park Way! It was a dark creepy house that stood back from the road and was shadowed by an old oak tree. Outside it was decorated with just a small pumpkin and a tatty scarecrow dumped in a plastic chair. We ran up to the door, excited to find out what treats there would be. We knocked on the door…. silence. We knocked again. No answer. So we knocked one last time, still no answer. We were just turning to go.

Suddenly we heard an eerie voice. It shouted “BOO!” We froze. The scarecrow jumped up. We screamed and screamed – an ear piercing scream.

The wind started howling and the moon slid behind a cloud. It was DARK! The only light was the tiny flicker of the small Jack O’lantern. I almost wet my pants! We were terrified.

At that moment the scarecrow flicked a light on and offered us a small basket with sweets in. Nervously, we reached for a treat, fearful of what might happen next! But it was just an ordinary sweet, nothing special or scary.

The scarecrow slumped back into his seat and froze, waiting for his next victim to arrive.

Next year I won’t be going to the last house on Willow Park Way… or maybe I will.

So beware of scarecrows on Halloween night, they might just get you too!

The Spooky Surprise

Sebastian, aged 8

Chapter One

The Burglar

Once upon a time there was a person named Steve. Steve was not ordinary, oh no, he had saved the town from zombies. Along the way, he had also met Henry, Lucy, and Max. Their village had been burned down by nasty things called “grifiks”, so they were staying in Steve’s house for now.

“Steve, it’s time to go to the shop”, said Lucy. So, they set off. They passed the welcome sign for the village, took a right turn at the library and found themselves at Elmer’s shop.  “Here we are”, said Steve, heading inside. He set down a bag of diamonds on the shop counter, and WHOOSH, everything in the shop was gone, including the diamonds.

“What just happened?!”, exclaimed Steve. “A burglar must have stolen all the stuff in the shop. Let’s be detectives and find him”, said Lucy.  “OK…let’s go”, agreed Max and Henry. Lucy pointed out, “but we need costumes”. Elmer, the shopkeeper, helpfully pulled out a recipe for making detective costumes from his pocket.


Mix the following ingredients: leather, ink-sacks and hot water.

P.S. You can get all of these at the trading post.

Chapter Two

The Costumes

     Steve, Lucy, Max and Henry, together with Elmer, walked to the trading post and exchanged one diamond (which had been hidden in Lucy’s dress) for all of the ingredients to make their costumes. Dear Reader, you may at this point be wondering why our heroes had so many jewels. In one of their earlier adventures, they found 40 diamonds on an abandoned island. But that’s a tale for another time. “Let’s go arrest that burglar”, said Max. “No, Max, let’s just trap him”, urged Henry.

Chapter Three

The Trap

Our heroes went back to their house and found some cobwebs in their closets. They decided to use these to trap the burglar.  They took five of their diamonds, put these on a stick, and waited for the burglar to come. He came alright—and took the diamonds – but he also fell into their cobweb trap.

Steve, Lucy, Max and Henry took off the burglar’s mask.  “Oh!” they all gasped.  The burglar was a grifik.  He laughed at them, “You foolish kids, the jewel theft was only a diversion.  We tried to distract you so that we could turn loose zombies on the people in the village.”

Max sighed, “It’s always zombies, isn’t it?”

Chapter Four

The Zombies Attack!

Our friends ran to the graveyard, but it was too late. The zombies were already coming.  “AAAAGH”, screamed everyone. One zombie, with dull grey skin and a mindless brain, came after Steve.  “Uhhh, Uhhh”, the zombie moaned.  Steve felt sorry for him. It was probably the old librarian.

Steve, Lucy, Max and Henry took some water from the river, put it in a huge iron bucket (which had been used to defeat zombies in the past) and then took their last diamond and placed in inside.  They splashed the water over everyone in the town and, while Steve and Max got the zombies’ attention by waving swords, Henry and Lucy dug holes in the graveyard dirt.  When the digging was finished, they all used sticks to poke the zombies toward the holes. The town was safe again!

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Case study: I realised that short success stories were more important

When Karl started Easyread, his mum Jennifer told us he was considered to be behind his peers in English reading at his Spanish immersion school. Karl is a highly visual-spatial learner, and compensated for his decoding difficulties by guessing short words when reading, which appeared to resemble words he had come across in texts before. So much time and energy was spent on retrieving words from his memory, that Karl’s reading comprehension was suffering. Reading was a stressful time for the whole family.

Now, Karl is independently reading each night and getting 10/10 on his spelling tests in school! Read the full case study on Karl’s Easyread journey below.

What was reading like for your son before Easyread? Main concerns/reading age level/frustrations etc?

Reading with my son was very frustrating. Although we read together since he was a baby, his reading level was at least about a year behind his classmates.

How was Easyread a good fit? What were the highs and lows of the Easyread experience for you?

Easyread helped me relax by teaching me that short success stories were more important than getting through the same material his class worked on. 

What was the direct result of going through the process for Karl, in terms of reading and spelling improvement, confidence gains, etc.? What has that meant for you?

My son instantly became more confident and I was less frustrated. By focusing on what was done well with the lessons each night he started reading more words on his own. He is still a little behind his classmates, but he reads books on his own for about 15-20 minutes each night much more fluently and comfortable.

When he sounds things out, he does so very logically. Karl is great at spelling and usually gets 10/10′s each week.


And here is a topical photo of Karl with a carved pumpkin!

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A look back at Anna and Holly’s Easyread journey

This week, we caught up with Anna, 11, from the Netherlands. Her and her mother, Holly, started the Easyread programme after relocating from the US and noticed that Anna was having some reading difficulties – which wasn’t easy to figure out, given that Anna is so great at memorising words for her spelling tests! After being on the system for a year, and finishing the programme on lesson 267, we spoke to Anna and Holly on Skype to find out more about their Easyread journey, from the very beginning, right through to the exciting end.


A very smiley Anna with a chunk of an iceberg, photo taken in Iceland this summer

Hi Anna and Holly. Can you start off by telling us a bit about what reading was like for Anna before Easyread?

Anna: Reading was hard.

Holly: Yes, Anna used to get stressed out about reading and spelling.

And what used to happen when Anna became stressed out about reading and spelling?

(Anna looks at her mum, Holly)

Holly: She just didn’t want to do it.

And what were you searching for when you came across Easyread?

Anna: To get better

What did you think of Easyread when you first started?

Holly: You weren’t too sure about the first lesson, were you Anna?

(Anna laughs)

What was it that changed your mind then Anna?

Anna: The prizes. And the games were fun. They weren’t too difficult. And it felt quite easy in the beginning.

What was your favourite part of the lessons?

Anna: Fighter Mission for reading, and Spell Drive for spelling.

And your least favourite part?

Holly: We didn’t really like the Spelling Wizards, did we Anna? We got a bit nervous when they came up.

And how did you overcome that anxiety around the Spelling Assessors?

Holly: I just reassured Anna that it wasn’t a test or a competition, and it was just a chance for Easyread to see how we’re getting on and if we needed to be doing anything differently.

Do you remember when you started to notice a change in reading and spelling?

Holly: I remember, do you Anna?

(Anna nods)

Anna: Oh yeah!

Holly: It was after about five months of being on the system. We were at home reading at night as we always do, and there was no stress. We were just getting through the pages.

Do you remember what book it was Anna?

Anna: Harry Potter

Holly: We started off where I would read one paragraph, and then Anna would read the next. And then when it came to a tricky word, like “ferocious”, Anna would hide under a blanket. (Anna laughs) But then one paragraph soon became half a page each, and then one night, Anna suggested that she read one page and I read the next. And that’s how I knew that things were changing.

And for spelling?

Holly: I’d say the common spelling words had improved by the end of the school year.

(Holly actually sent us a sample of Anna’s reading a couple of weeks ago, which you can find below. We think it’s amazing!)

spelling example

So what books are you reading now Anna?

Anna: Harry Potter

Which one?

Anna: The third one

And which has been your favourite so far?

Anna: The third one

That’s my favourite too! Had you seen the films before you started reading the books?

Anna: Yeah, I’d seen the first two films but now I want to read all the books before watching the films because they’re different.

That’s a good idea. So tell us, what has the Easyread programme meant for you?

(Anna looks at Holly)

Anna: You go first!

Holly: OK, well, I believe it’s been instrumental in teaching her decoding. As a mum I don’t know the skill sets for reading. I had no clue how to help her. I saw that she was having trouble with putting certain spelling combinations together and she was getting tongue-tied over consonant pairs like “cl”. So along with Easyread, we got some games from school and some word-building exercises, and this has all been incredibly important in helping Anna to read.

I used to tell her that the skill of reading is more important than swimming. Now, Anna is aware of the words that she’s not able to spell correctly from memory. She’ll now ask how to spell words like “every” and she’ll then ask me to check she’s spelled it correctly.

Have you thought of an answer Anna?

Anna: Reading

Haha and has that helped you at school?

Anna: English has become easier at school. And it’s helped in science because there are lots of really big words I’ve never seen before, like “solvent” and “density” and “low temperature”.

Holly: And you did really well in your last science test didn’t you, Anna?

(Anna smiles)

Anna: Yeah I got 9.5 out of 10!

Wow! That’s amazing! So are you going to be a scientist now?

Anna: I don’t know

Or maybe a drummer?

Anna: Haha I don’t know

Will you let me know when you decide?

Anna: Yeah

Holly and Anna haven’t celebrated reaching the end of the programme yet, but Anna has been flying the helicopter around the living room. Anna’s also going to send me a review of Harry Potter once she’s finished the book, and let me know how it’s different to the film. They’re a bit sad now that they don’t have Easyread in their daily lives, but Anna’s increase in homework more than fills the void this year!

And of course, we’ll let you know whether Anna decides to become a drummer, a scientist or something else in the future!

- Interview with Maddie

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Easyread Short Story Competition for Halloween

It was a dark, blustery night in late October. Over the howl of the wind blowing through the trees, there was the sound of a door creaking in the distance. Suddenly, a tall dark shadow appeared round the corner…

And now, over to you, our budding Easyread story writers! With this prompt in mind, we would like you to write your very own scary story! You can choose whether you want to write a scary story based around the adventures of one of the Easyread characters, or a scary story created from entirely around your own imagined world.

All you need to know is that your story can be as long as you like, and as scary as you like!

The prize? See your story feature in our very own Easyread library, so that Easyread children all over the world will continue to read your scary tale for at least a year! We’re looking to create a new book called Scary Stories, made up of the 3 winning stories sent in by our Easyread writers.

Are you interested yet?

Did we mention we may also be sending some sweet treats to you in the post too?

We thought that’d seal the deal.

You can either send us a photo of your story, or type it up with your parents so they can send it to us. Email your entries to by midnight, the 27th of October (UK time).

The 3 winners will be announced at 4pm on Friday, the 30th of October, just in time for Halloween.

Please note: you must be either a current or past learner on the Easyread programme to enter.

On your marks, get set, ghoooooul!

1931 (6)

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Making Sense of Dyslexia

The 5th – 11th October marked the British Dyslexia Association’s Dyslexia Awareness Week. This year’s theme was ‘Making Sense of Dyslexia’.

Artists, poets, actors and authors rallied together to share their thoughts on what dyslexia means to them.

We shared poet, Sally Gardner’s, tribute to Dyslexia Awareness Week on the blog last week. Sally is all too familiar with the difficulties the English language can bring up for readers of all ages, and describes her personal frustrations of being stuck without the tools that our society expects. Follow the link in the blog post to read Gardner’s poem, The Box, in full.

The well-known parenting forum, Mumsnet, featured a guest post from author, Margaret Rooke, to mark the occasion. In the post, she opens up about waiting 13 years for a diagnosis for her dyslexic daughter, and the motivation behind her latest book, Creative, Successful, Dyslexic.

Designer and illustrator, Harriet Birt, created a range of prints to illustrate how dyslexia feels.


Brain Box by Harriet Birt

You can find the full collection here.

And Study Medicine Europe created this Infographic on Dyslexia to help explain what dyslexia is to those who believe they may be having some reading difficulties, and to educate the wider population on the term.

Which of these examples do you feel best helps to make sense of dyslexia? Or is there perhaps another way we can better decode this reading difficulty?

- Maddie

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For our feedback…

For our feedback we couldn’t be happier with the program. James loves to do it every day and it is amazing how quickly he reads by looking at the characters alone without the letters, he leaves my daughter and I in his wake. James feels very empowered and loves to decode all the time. He tells me that he sees pictures above the words at school even though they are not there. I know I shouldn’t see improvement until 90 lessons but the confidence is there which we can’t help getting excited about. Thank you for helping my gorgeous boy.

- N

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How dyslexia feels, as explained by poet, Sally Gardner

To celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week, The Guardian published The Box, by poet Sally Gardner, who struggles with reading herself. It’s a great description of the frustration of being stuck without the tools that our society expects.

Every day, we strive to spread the joy and knowledge of our Trainertext, that is tailored to all learning preferences, so that every child and adult may one day be able to read. In the words of Sally Gardner, “The time has come to think outside the box”.

Read the poem in full on The Guardian website here


Sally Gardner, photo sourced from The Guardian website

- Maddie

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