Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing: Delivering on the Promise of Student Achievement

Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing is authored by a university-based literacy researcher who has dedicated her life’s work to making research-based literacy practices accessible to teachers. This nationally-recognized curriculum is designed to ensure students develop a lifelong love of reading while learning to read. By helping teachers understand and apply research around the science of reading, Bookworms positively impacts student achievement.

On December 1, 2022, EdReports released their ratings following the review of the Bookworks K–5 Reading & Writing curriculum, noting that it partially meets their expectations in gateways 1 & 2. Though the Bookworm's efficacy data results speak for themselves, Open Up Resources would like to acknowledge this news and confirm that we continue to believe in and support Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing. Read our full publisher's response here.

As a non-profit with a mission to increase equity in K–12 education by making equitable, top-rated curricula openly accessible to districts and schools, Open Up Resources values EdReports as an evaluation tool. We also believe in looking comprehensively at the body of evidence around all curricula when making decisions. 

In addition to utilizing EdReports as a tool in the curriculum selection process, we recommend evaluating student achievement data, alignment to reading research, and recognition by other respected, third-party experts. 

Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing is: 

  • Structurally different from any other curriculum on the market
  • Rooted in research and proven to deliver student achievement in the most struggling districts
  • Recognized by literacy experts and reading scientists as best-in-class

We’re prioritizing the substantial, proven track record of the Bookworms curriculum rather than focusing on the causes for the disconnect with EdReports’ review rating.

Bookworms is structurally different from other curricula on the market. It is composed of three, 45-minute, instructional blocks: Shared Reading, English Language Arts, and Differentiated Instruction. Each block is consistent in layout and structure across modules, units, and lessons.

  • The Shared Reading Block consists of grade-level reading instruction, spelling instruction, and foundational skills development. 
  • The English Language Arts Block consists of genre-based writing instruction, interactive read alouds with high-leverage vocabulary instruction, and explicit instruction of  grammar and language standards.
  • Differentiated Instruction is a multiple-entry skills block in which teachers use oral reading fluency and phonics assessment data to ensure students get additional direct instruction in the skills they need. 

The Bookworms curriculum distills research-based best practices into straightforward lesson structures that support reading through careful attention to foundational skills, language comprehension, and composition based on grade-level expectations and the individual needs of each student. The instructional routines build classroom communities through the use of strategies such as teacher modeling, shared reading, evidence-based writing, discussion, and intentional vocabulary instruction.

The curriculum’s systematic phonics-based foundational skills block features unique skill-based  groupings, supported by frequent progress monitoring, with tailored instruction for each group. Instructional protocols are explicit and simple for teachers to follow.

Most notably, there are rich case studies that show increased achievement on state tests when districts adopt Bookworms. The Bookworms program is recognized as a best-in-class curriculum for a wide range of students at various grade and learning levels and, in practice, its adoption is leading to improved achievement results that have eluded struggling districts for years. Indeed, there is a growing body of evidence showing that Bookworms positively impacts student achievement.

In a longitudinal study currently under review, (May et al.) students using Bookworms (n=8,806) added an average of 4.9 months of growth in upper elementary grades on MAP compared to their growth under the district’s instructional-level guided reading curriculum; students receiving special education supports and students with the lowest achievement made the most growth. 

Because of the attention Bookworms has to both knowledge-building and the Science of Reading, it has been recognized by numerous leading literacy experts as a best-in-class program.

Because of the attention Bookworms has to both knowledge-building and the Science of Reading, it has been recognized by numerous leading literacy experts as a best-in-class program. Most recently, the curriculum was featured as one of six recommended knowledge-building curricula by a group of reading scientists as part of Knowledge Matters Campaign. In addition, a 2022 documentary, The Right to Read, featured the positive impact of the Differentiated Instruction Block on student achievement.

All students deserve the opportunity to have access to and to engage in literacy instruction that fosters their love of reading and supports their learning potential. The simplicity of the Bookworms' structure makes the program accessible for teachers to internalize literacy research and provide systematic instruction and practice for students that promotes rapid learning about the world while nurturing a deep appreciation of reading and writing.