Bookworms is designed to expose students to a high volume of full-length, deeply engaging trade books to build knowledge and drive literacy instruction. Over the course of elementary school, students will study 265 full-length texts. These grade-level texts are read—by the teacher and through shared reading with peers—multiple times, each time with a different purpose. The curriculum’s systematic phonics-based foundational skills block features unique skill-based student grouping, supported by frequent assessments, with tailored instruction for each group including protocols that are clear and simple for teachers to follow.
Rich, rigorous, diverse texts:
How Bookworms designs for:
Bookworms focuses all aspects of instruction, including knowledge-building, on full-length books. For example, in grade 3, the Snowflake Bentley text opens with Bentley’s close-up photos that show no two snowflakes are alike. Students continue to discover the shapes of snowflakes are a function of wind, temperature, and moisture in the air. Annually, students will have read (or been read to), analyzed, and discussed many challenging, authentic texts representing diverse authors, characters, and topics.
Each day, brief writing assignments reinforce the importance of attending to the text and topic. Students hear, read, and speak a high volume of words daily, focusing on how context determines meaning. Students also are encouraged and given time to read widely from highly regarded trade literature in their classroom libraries, where they can pursue their favorite authors and topics.
Systematic Foundational Skills and Fluency
Through daily differentiated skills blocks, Bookworms guides students systematically in foundational skills. Every student is regularly assessed and grouped to accelerate skill development. A separate book written by the program’s authors makes implementation of the differentiated systematic phonics straightforward for teachers to learn. In grades 1–2, such instruction also stems from work with patterns learned within the lessons’ word study section. Addressing older students’ skills deficits with precision is a highlight. Grade-level fluency instruction is a staple in Bookworms.
Equitable access to challenging texts
Bookworms distills research-based best practices into straightforward lesson structures. Instructional routines build connected classroom communities. While the content changes with every new challenging book studied, the writing, discussion, and vocabulary routines repeat. The simplicity of the structure makes the program accessible while promoting rapid student learning about the world and a deep appreciation of books and learning.
Topics of study
Foundational skills instruction
Bookworms was developed by reading researchers Mike McKenna and Sharon Walpole. It is published as an open-licensed curriculum by the nonprofit publisher Open Up Resources.
Bookworms in districts
“Proof is in the pudding—going from 41 percent to 60+ percent.”
“They were able to dive deep with students into content….All of the students had equal access to the text, no matter what their skill level was.”
“You feel a little more sane and just so much more prepared in knowing that what you’re using is strong in itself.”
“It’s brought us together having one program…everyone is talking the same language.”
“How can you coach someone in any kind of instruction if you haven’t done it?….We challenge our potential as leaders by also being teachers.”
“We were literally at the bottom of the state…to have seen that we are leading the state in so many categories now…it’s really inspiring.”
“I’m a firm believer in if you set high expectations, they’re going to rise to it. And that’s what this new curriculum does.”
“The growth that we saw in our EL students was amazing.”
“First training the leaders then letting the teachers try. We got a lot of people on board….Leaders were prepared to guide their teachers.”
“Through this process, we got to understand how kids start the reading process and how they excel through the reading process.”