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Elementary teacher working with student during reading instruction

Reading 101: Self-Paced Learning Modules

Core knowledge about reading is a key to effective literacy instruction. Our free, self-paced learning modules can help you deepen your understanding of the building blocks of reading and writing.

Teaching reading is rocket science

Our brains are hard-wired to master spoken language, but learning to read is another story. Learning to read is a very complex skill — one of the most complex things that we ask our children to take on. And for many kids, it doesn’t come easily.

As a result, teaching children to read and write well can be a very challenging job. So much so that researcher Louisa Moats called her influential article “Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science.” (This incidentally, became the inspiration for the “Reading Rockets” name!).

There are many reasons why children succeed or struggle in school, but among school-related factors, teachers matter the most. What teachers know and what they do in class every day have an enormous impact on student achievement.

It’s never easy, but when reading instruction is delivered by knowledgeable, skilled teachers, more students will be more successful, and all but the most severe reading disabilities can be addressed effectively. This is true even for students who are most at risk.

Reading 101 provides the basic information that teachers need to help young children learn to read and write well and to support the children who struggle. 

Before moving on to our course modules, you may also want to explore these sections on Reading Rockets, to deepen your knowledge:

Certificate of completion

Reading Rockets does not offer CEUs for this self-study course. After completing each module and successfully answering the post-test questions, you’ll be able to download a certificate of completion.

How children learn to read

In this multimedia presentation, teacher and literacy coach Margaret Goldberg gives a concise and clear explanation of the science of reading and how it makes sense in her teaching practice. With honest reflection, she examines what is working and what is not. Using animations, graphics and student video examples, Margaret connects the dots from research to instruction, covering how the brain reads, how we use letters and sounds for reading, and how we use meaning and context for reading. (From our sister project, Reading Universe (opens in a new window) (opens in a new window))


  • 00:00 — Introduction to the Science of Reading 
  • 08:00 — The Simple View of Reading 
  • 14:25— Learning to Identify, Blend, and Manipulate Sounds 
  • 24:23 — Learning to Recognize Letters and Decode Written Words 
  • 32:44 — Reading Aloud: A Look at Two Readers 
  • 38:10 — Using Meaning and Context for Reading 
  • 43:47 — Selecting Text to Develop Reading Comprehension 
  • 45:49 — Reflecting on Instruction that Works