Foundations Reading Library

Until now I’ve been focusing on phonics and basic readers. Today I’d like to go to the other extreme and look at a series that bridges the gap between children’s readers and ones aimed at older learners.

The Foundations Reading Library, co-authored by my friend Rob Waring, was revolutionary when it came out. A reader series aimed at teenagers, with minimal headword counts that nevertheless succeeded in being interesting and accessible? I don’t know of any others.

Level one starts with just 50 headwords, so normal junior high school students can have a go at getting through the books. For our students who have come up through phonics and children’s readers, these books are cake.

Foundations Reading Library books are available singly, in level packs, and also in collected anthologies. I only just discovered the latter ones, and they seem fairly promising. They have all the books from that level in one volume, cost about half as much as buying them individually, but have the drawback that you can’t give each book to a different student. The covers also seems flimsier and I’m worried about how well they will last. Still, for some teaching situations, they might be a cheap way to stock up.

You can also get CDs and lesson planners for all the levels, but I don’t have much experience with these.

My thoughts:

1. some of the books are better than others, but overall this series is extremely accessible and interesting for students from elementary school all the way to adults. I also use them with university students and they often come out as the most popular series at low level
2. the gaps between levels are very small, making it easy to progress from one to the next
3. the recurring characters are constant through the series and readers can really get to know them
4. there are nowhere near enough books at each level, and unfortunately there won’t be any new ones coming out

Basically, these books still occupy a fairly unique niche, and they do their job extremely well. I wish there were more of them. Some similar alternatives include the Building Blocks Library, by MPI, and the Page Turners series by Cengage, but they aren’t exactly the same…

Anyone else use Foundations? Did I miss anything?

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