DM News Blog

Latest news in literacy, child development, and all things DM Ed


A look back at Anna and Holly’s story

by Maddie Rossmaur || 22 Oct 2015

This week, we caught up with Anna, 11, from the Netherlands. Her and her mother, Holly, started the Easyread programme after relocating from the US and noticed that Anna was having some reading difficulties – which wasn’t easy to figure out, given that Anna is so great at memorising words for her spelling tests! After being on the system for a year, and finishing the programme on lesson 267, we spoke to Anna and Holly on Skype to find out more about their Easyread journey, from the very beginning, right through to the exciting end.


A very smiley Anna with a chunk of an iceberg, photo taken in Iceland this summer

Hi Anna and Holly. Can you start off by telling us a bit about what reading was like for Anna before Easyread?

Anna: Reading was hard.

Holly: Yes, Anna used to get stressed out about reading and spelling.

And what used to happen when Anna became stressed out about reading and spelling?

(Anna looks at her mum, Holly)

Holly: She just didn’t want to do it.

And what were you searching for when you came across Easyread?

Anna: To get better

What did you think of Easyread when you first started?

Holly: You weren’t too sure about the first lesson, were you Anna?

(Anna laughs)

What was it that changed your mind then Anna?

Anna: The prizes. And the games were fun. They weren’t too difficult. And it felt quite easy in the beginning.

What was your favourite part of the lessons?

Anna: Fighter Mission for reading, and Spell Drive for spelling.

And your least favourite part?

Holly: We didn’t really like the Spelling Wizards, did we Anna? We got a bit nervous when they came up.

And how did you overcome that anxiety around the Spelling Assessors?

Holly: I just reassured Anna that it wasn’t a test or a competition, and it was just a chance for Easyread to see how we’re getting on and if we needed to be doing anything differently.

Do you remember when you started to notice a change in reading and spelling?

Holly: I remember, do you Anna?

(Anna nods)

Anna: Oh yeah!

Holly: It was after about five months of being on the system. We were at home reading at night as we always do, and there was no stress. We were just getting through the pages.

Do you remember what book it was Anna?

Anna: Harry Potter

Holly: We started off where I would read one paragraph, and then Anna would read the next. And then when it came to a tricky word, like “ferocious”, Anna would hide under a blanket. (Anna laughs) But then one paragraph soon became half a page each, and then one night, Anna suggested that she read one page and I read the next. And that’s how I knew that things were changing.

And for spelling?

Holly: I’d say the common spelling words had improved by the end of the school year.

(Holly actually sent us a sample of Anna’s reading a couple of weeks ago, which you can find below. We think it’s amazing!)

spelling example

So what books are you reading now Anna?

Anna: Harry Potter

Which one?

Anna: The third one

And which has been your favourite so far?

Anna: The third one

That’s my favourite too! Had you seen the films before you started reading the books?

Anna: Yeah, I’d seen the first two films but now I want to read all the books before watching the films because they’re different.

That’s a good idea. So tell us, what has the Easyread programme meant for you?

(Anna looks at Holly)

Anna: You go first!

Holly: OK, well, I believe it’s been instrumental in teaching her decoding. As a mum I don’t know the skill sets for reading. I had no clue how to help her. I saw that she was having trouble with putting certain spelling combinations together and she was getting tongue-tied over consonant pairs like “cl”. So along with Easyread, we got some games from school and some word-building exercises, and this has all been incredibly important in helping Anna to read.

I used to tell her that the skill of reading is more important than swimming. Now, Anna is aware of the words that she’s not able to spell correctly from memory. She’ll now ask how to spell words like “every” and she’ll then ask me to check she’s spelled it correctly.

Have you thought of an answer Anna?

Anna: Reading

Haha and has that helped you at school?

Anna: English has become easier at school. And it’s helped in science because there are lots of really big words I’ve never seen before, like “solvent” and “density” and “low temperature”.

Holly: And you did really well in your last science test didn’t you, Anna?

(Anna smiles)

Anna: Yeah I got 9.5 out of 10!

Wow! That’s amazing! So are you going to be a scientist now?

Anna: I don’t know

Or maybe a drummer?

Anna: Haha I don’t know

Will you let me know when you decide?

Anna: Yeah

Holly and Anna haven’t celebrated reaching the end of the programme yet, but Anna has been flying the helicopter around the living room. Anna’s also going to send me a review of Harry Potter once she’s finished the book, and let me know how it’s different to the film. They’re a bit sad now that they don’t have Easyread in their daily lives, but Anna’s increase in homework more than fills the void this year!

And of course, we’ll let you know whether Anna decides to become a drummer, a scientist or something else in the future!

– Interview with Maddie