A New Universe of Free, Teaching Reading and Writing Resources

Reading Universe is an innovative, digital platform that provides educators with evidence-based guidance and tools.

An Expansive Platform of Free Tools & Resources

Reading Universe logo with tagline that reads, 'All about teaching reading and writing'

First Book, WETA/Reading Rockets, and the Barksdale Reading Institute (BRI) have launched Reading Universe — for teachers, paraprofessionals, and literacy coaches to learn more about evidence-based reading AND writing instruction, and then translate it into classroom practice that will complement any curriculum. Our prototype site is now live, and we are adding new professional development content almost every day.

What You’ll Find on Reading Universe

  • Step-by-step guides for teaching all the essential reading and writing skills — and our interactive taxonomy showing how those skills are connected.
  • In-classroom videos showing real teachers with real students, filmed in diverse classrooms across the country.
  • Classroom-ready lesson plans, printable activities, and decodable texts for every skill.

The Reading Universe Taxonomy

At the heart of Reading Universe is its distinct, interactive taxonomy of reading and writing skills:

  • Learn about every essential skill necessary for strong literacy.
  • Understand how all the skills fit together.
  • Access practical step-by-step multimedia guides and resources to teach them in the classroom!

Reading Universe’s innovative framework delivers on an age-old promise of quality education for all.  Its comprehensive research-based approach is guided by the science of reading and embraces the belief that every student, regardless of background, is brimming with potential and the capacity to become a lifelong reader.

Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO of First Book.

First Book partners with these premier nonprofit organizations to produce the Reading Universe


WETA, the flagship PBS station in Washington, D.C., is home to ambitious national education websites ReadingRockets.orgColorinColorado.orgLDOnLine.orgAdLit.orgStartWithABook.org and BrainLine.org.

The Barksdale Reading Institute

The Barksdale Reading Institute (BRI) was founded by Jim Barksdale to advance literacy in his home state of Mississippi. Thanks in part to BRI’s work bringing evidence-based approaches to reading instruction, Mississippi raised its fourth grade reading scores from last place to the national average.

Reading Universe is also made possible by generous support from Jim & Donna Barksdale, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and three anonymous donors.

image of an educator reading to two kids from a picture book. There is text that says, 'Matching Challenge: Be a Champion for Educators! Your gift by May 31 can go twice as far to provide new, high-quality books and other resources educators need to help students unlock their full potential.' There is a red button in the bottom, right corner that says, 'I'll give now'.