What is the Science of Reading?

The “science of reading” refers to our collective understanding of how we learn to read based on thousands of studies spanning 50+ years in the modern education era. It is a complex, interdisciplinary topic spanning the fields of neuroscience, linguistics, psychology, pedagogy, and many others.

The modern mainstream awareness and understanding of the science of reading is linked with the so-called “Reading Wars.” This debate largely centered around the importance of systematic, explicit phonics instruction in school. Research has consistently shown that reading is not a natural process and that a structured approach to instruction, in which students learn to read before they read to learn, is the most effective path to literacy.

An illustrated child reading a book, her brain is lit up and visible in the image.

How eSpark Aligns

A student looking at balloons, each featuring a letter of the alphabet, depicting how eSpark's Framing Videos align with the science of reading.

Explicit and Systematic Instruction

Students begin every eSpark Quest with a “Framing Video,” in which we clearly define the purpose of the lesson and introduce new concepts with concise, direct instruction. Learning goals are restated multiple times throughout the Quest.

eSpark’s scope and sequence intentionally builds on prior learning. This ensures that students are more likely to possess the requisite skills and knowledge before engaging with a new concept.

Learn more about eSpark’s Framing Videos →

The Five Essential Components of Reading

In keeping with the findings of the National Reading Panel, eSpark’s early reading instruction includes an intentional balance of:

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

In many lessons, students practice two or more of these components, sometimes within the same activity. This holistic approach helps build confidence and mastery.

Browse and sample eSpark’s reading activities →

Screenshot of multiple Small Group Skills lessons covering a variety of early reading standards.

Playful Personalization and Choice

“The research base on student-selected reading is robust and conclusive. Students read more, understand more, and are more likely to continue reading when they have the opportunity to choose what they read.” (Allington and Gabriel, 2012)

eSpark is the only reading program that uses generative AI to deliver lessons based on each students’ background and interests in the moment. This unparalleled approach to choice reading and personalized learning appeals to even the most reluctant readers in ways never before possible.

Build your own Choice Text →

Personalized Decodable Readers

Building on the success of Choice Texts for reading comprehension, eSpark has rolled out Decodable Choice Texts for the Foundational Reading domain in grades K-3.

This whole new take on decodable readers empowers students to craft their own unique stories based on the choices they make. They then practice the same phonics skills that make decodables such a cornerstone of elementary classrooms. Students encounter Decodable Choice Texts on their independent pathways or via teacher-assigned Small Group Skills.

Learn more about Decodable Choice Texts →

Screenshot of a personalized decodable reader in eSpark.

PDF Download: eSpark and the Science of Reading

Ready to boost your early reading curriculum?