A company has made millions selling reading instruction books steeped in bad science


This podcast, Sold a Story, was produced by GAP reports and reproduced with permission.

There’s an idea about how children learn to read that’s held sway in schools for more than a generation — even though it was proven wrong by cognitive scientists decades ago. Teaching methods based on this idea can make it difficult for children to learn to read.

In this new American Public Media podcast, host Emily Hanford investigates the influential authors promoting this idea and the company selling their work. It’s an account of how educators came to believe in something that isn’t true and are now counting the consequences – hurting children, wasting money, an upended education system.

Reading Matters: See more Hechinger coverage of teaching reading

Episode 5: The Company

Teachers call the books published by Heinemann their “bibles.” The company’s products are in schools across the country. Some of these products are rooted in a debunked idea of ​​how children learn to read. But they made millions for the company and some of its authors.


This podcast was produced by GAP reports and reproduced with permission.

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