Sold a Story

By American Public Media

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Category: Documentary

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Subscribers: 440
Reviews: 3

 Mar 2, 2023
very good very enlightened and thoughtful discourse on the issue of reading. you really learn a tremendous amount in a short period of time. the ending credits are also incredibly moving.

 Jan 16, 2023

 Nov 15, 2022
I am a teacher and a parent and have felt frustrated by the hours I need to spend teaching my kids how to read. Finally here is an answer as to why so many kids struggle. A call to make significant research based changes in how we teach reading.


Millions of kids can't read well. Scientists have known for decades how children learn to read but many schools are ignoring the research. They buy teacher training and books that are rooted in a disproven idea. Emily Hanford investigates four authors and a publishing company that have made millions selling this idea.

Episode Date
[RERELEASE] At a Loss for Words: What's Wrong with How Schools Teach Reading

Molly Woodworth had a secret: She couldn’t read very well. She fought her way through text by looking at the first letter of a word and thinking of something that made sense.  Reading was slow and laborious. Then she learned that her daughter's school was actually teaching kids to read that way. In this documentary, originally published in August 2019, host Emily Hanford reveals that many kids are being taught the habits of struggling readers. Winner of a Gracie Award and finalist for an EWA Public Service Award.  

Read more: How a flawed idea is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers

Support this show: Donate to APM Reports

Mar 30, 2023
[RERELEASE] Hard Words: Why Aren't Our Kids Being Taught to Read?

Jack Silva had a problem. He was the chief academic officer of a school district in Pennsylvania, and more than 40% of the kids in his district were not proficient readers. He didn't know much about how kids learn to read, but he knew he had to figure it out. Originally published in September 2018, this documentary helped ignite a national conversation about the science of reading. Winner of an EWA Public Service Award.

Read more: Why aren't kids being taught to read?
Read in Spanish: Translation by Aptus

Support this show: Donate to APM Reports

Mar 23, 2023
[RERELEASE] Hard to Read: How American Schools Fail Kids with Dyslexia

The parents knew something wasn’t right. The school said everything would be fine. But their kids weren’t learning how to read. In this documentary, originally published in September 2017, we look at why kids with dyslexia have a hard time getting the help they need in school.

Read more: How American schools fail kids with dyslexia
Q&A: What is dyslexia, with neuroscientist Guinevere Eden

Support this show: Donate to APM Reports

Mar 16, 2023
6: The Reckoning

Lucy Calkins says she has learned from the science of reading. She's revised her materials. Fountas and Pinnell have not revised theirs. Their publisher, Heinemann, is still selling some products to teach reading that contain debunked practices. Parents, teachers and lawmakers want answers. In our final episode, we try to get some answers.

Map: How states approach reading instruction
Organize: Sold a Story discussion guide
Read: Transcript of this episode
Support: Donate to APM

Nov 17, 2022
5: The Company

Teachers call books published by Heinemann their "bibles." The company's products are in schools all over the country. Some of the products used to teach reading are rooted in a debunked idea about how children learn to read. But they've made the company and some of its authors millions.

Map: Heinemann’s national reach
Read: Transcript of this episode
Support: Donate to APM

Nov 10, 2022
4: The Superstar

Teachers sing songs about Teachers College Columbia professor Lucy Calkins. She’s one of the most influential people in American elementary education today. Her admirers call her books bibles. Why didn't she know that scientific research contradicted reading strategies she promoted?

Read: Transcript of this episode
Support: Donate to APM

Nov 03, 2022
3: The Battle

President George W. Bush made improving reading instruction a priority. He got Congress to provide money to schools that used reading programs supported by scientific research. But backers of Marie Clay’s cueing idea saw Bush’s Reading First initiative as a threat.

Read: Transcript of this episode
Support: Donate to APM

Oct 27, 2022
2: The Idea

Sixty years ago, Marie Clay developed a way to teach reading she said would help kids who were falling behind. They’d catch up and never need help again. Today, her program remains popular and her theory about how people read is at the root of a lot of reading instruction in schools. But Marie Clay was wrong. 

Read: Emily Hanford’s reading list
Read: Transcript of this episode
Support: Donate to APM

Oct 20, 2022
1: The Problem

Corinne Adams watches her son's lessons during Zoom school and discovers a dismaying truth: He can't read. Little Charlie isn't the only one. Sixty-five percent of fourth graders in the United States are not proficient readers. Kids need to learn specific skills to become good readers, and in many schools, those skills are not being taught.

Read: Emily Hanford’s reading list
Read: Transcript of this episode
Support: Donate to APM

Oct 20, 2022
Coming Soon: Sold a Story

Sold a Story is a six-part series beginning with two episodes on October 20.


Oct 13, 2022