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A PBS series for parents and educators

Launching Young Readers

Launching Young Readers is a public television series designed for teachers, parents, caregivers, and anyone else interested in helping children learn to read. Based on the latest research findings, the series consists of 30-minute television programs that explore the stages of reading that every child goes through. The programs feature the country's top reading experts, look at different reading strategies, provide practical advice for parents, and interweave the personal stories of children, families, and teachers.

Our award-winning PBS series!

Hosted by Fred Rogers, Annette Bening, Deborah Norville, Vivica A. Fox, Frank McCourt, Nick Spano, Al Roker, Rita Moreno, Henry Winkler, Molly Ringwald, and Reba McEntire, the programs were filmed in schools, childcare centers, libraries, research centers, and homes around the country. Each program also includes a profile of a prominent children's book author.

Order Launching Young Readers DVDs at our LearningStore The series has won many awards, including five Silver Statuettes and three Bronze Statuettes from the Telly Awards and three CINE Golden Eagle awards.

About the programs

Fred Rogers

Episode 1: The Roots of Reading

The Roots of Reading looks at the earliest stages of literacy in such locations as a baby speech lab and a Head Start center. The program examines how parents, childcare providers, and kindergarten teachers can get children started on the road to literacy. Features host Fred Rogers and children's book author and illustrator Rosemary Wells (Max and Ruby). Watch online >

Annette Bening

Episode 2: Sounds and Symbols

Sounds and Symbols focuses on how children learn the relationship between sounds, letters, and words as an initial step before being able to decode the printed word. Features host Annette Bening and children's book author and illustrator Norman Bridwell (Clifford the Big Red Dog). Watch online >

Deborah Norville

Episode 3: Fluent Reading

Fluent Reading explores the ability to decode quickly and achieve fluency. The program also demonstrates how early testing and intervention can help struggling readers. Features host Deborah Norville children's book author and illustrator William Joyce (George Shrinks). Watch online >

Vivica A. Fox

Episode 4: Writing and Spelling

Writing and Spelling examines the connection between reading and writing and between spelling and composition. The program features successful methods for encouraging children to write and build their vocabularies. Features host Vivica A. Fox and and children's book author and illustrator Kate Duke (Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One). Watch online >

Frank McCourt

Episode 5: Reading for Meaning

Reading for Meaning highlights effective strategies to help kids understand – and care about – what they read, the ultimate goal of learning how to read. Features host Frank McCourt and children's book author Walter Dean Myers (Harlem). Watch online >

Nick Spano

[Special]: Reading Rocks!

Reading Rocks is an empowering, upbeat, and totally hip show for kids ages 7-12 years old. It uses wacky humor and stories of hope to encourage struggling readers to keep trying. Watch online >

Al Roker

Episode 6: Empowering Parents

Empowering Parents helps families identify the early signs of reading problems and provides advice for navigating the system in order to get kids help. Features host Al Roker. Watch online >

Rita Moreno

Episode 7: Becoming Bilingual

Becoming Bilingual takes an up-close look at the challenges of teaching children to read in a new language. Features host Rita Moreno. Watch online >

Henry Winkler

Episode 8: Reading and the Brain

Reading and the Brain investigates how brain scientists — using technology in new and innovative ways — are working to solve the puzzle of why some children struggle to read while others don't. Features host Henry Winkler. Watch online >

Molly Ringwald

Episode 9: A Chance to Read

A Chance to Read looks at the reading challenges facing kids with disabilities, and what schools across the country are doing to help them find success. Features host Molly Ringwald. Watch online >

Reba McEntire

Episode 10: Toddling Toward Reading

Toddling Toward Reading examines what it takes to give our preschoolers the early literacy skills they need to become successful readers. Features host Reba McEntire. Watch online >

Home Front

Episode 11: Adventures in Summer Learning

Adventures in Summer Learning looks at the best ways to keep kids actively engaged with learning during the long summer break — and avoid the 'summer slump.' Watch online >

A Room of Writers

Episode 12: Growing Writers New!

Growing Writers visits a third grade classroom where kids have an opportunity to write every day, using traditional and digital tools to create and share. Watch online >


Production Credits

WETA/Reading Rockets

For the first five episodes:

  • Noel Gunther, Executive-in-Charge
  • Mary Esselman, Co-Executive Producer
  • Maura Daly Phinney, Co-Executive Producer
  • Layton Lawlor, Researcher

Special thanks to Diane Henry Leipzig.

For Reading Rocks!, Empowering Parents, and Becoming Bilingual:

  • Noel Gunther, Executive Producer
  • Christian Lindstrom, Producer
  • Keisha Dyson, Co-Producer

For Reading and the Brain

  • Noel Gunther, Executive Producer
  • Christian Lindstrom, Producer and Writer
  • Keisha Dyson, Co-Producer
  • Ashley Gilleland, Associate Producer and Writer

For A Chance to Read:

  • Noel Gunther, Executive Producer
  • Christian Lindstrom, Producer and Writer
  • Ashley Gilleland, Associate Producer and Writer
  • Keisha Dyson, Research

For Toddling Toward Reading:

  • Noel Gunther, Executive Producer
  • Christian Lindstrom, Executive Producer
  • Ashley Gilleland, Producer and Writer
  • Karen Youtz, Production Manager
  • Kelly Andrews, Production Coordinator

For Adventures in Summer Learning:

  • Noel Gunther, Executive Producer
  • Christian Lindstrom, Executive Producer
  • Ashley Gilleland, Producer and Writer
  • Leon Gittens, Production Manager
  • Kelly Andrews, Associate Producer
  • Krystal Klingenberg, Associate Producer

For Growing Writers:

  • Noel Gunther, Executive Producer
  • Christian Lindstrom, Executive Producer
  • Tina Chovanec, Executive Producer
  • Ashley Gilleland, Producer and Writer
  • Leon Gittens, Production Manager

Rubin Tarrant Productions

  • John Rubin, Producer and Writer
  • Anne Tarrant, Producer
  • James Donald, Co-Producer
  • James Ohm, Editor
  • Dickran Manoogian, Editor
  • Richard Lewis, Field Producer
  • Linda Duvoisin, Field Producer

Free print guides

You can download free print guides that accompany the Launching Young Readers television series, including a viewer's guide, a teacher's guide, and a bilingual family guide. Full-color print versions of the guides are included when you purchase the videos or DVD.

Accompanying website on PBS.org

The companion website to the Launching Young Readers television series is at www.pbs.org/launchingreaders. You'll find extra resources, parent tips by grade level, and free e-cards featuring original art by top children's book illustrators.

Chicago Child-Parent Centers

Parker Child-Parent Center offers a two-pronged approach — a high-quality preschool for kids and research-based literacy training for parents.

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"A book is a gift you can open again and again." — Garrison Keillor