Site is loading image
Kids reading on the floor of the library

About Reading Universe

Your free and practical digital guide to reading and writing instruction that works for every child

Kids reading on the floor of the library

What we do

Reading Universe supports educators by helping them unpack reading instruction, and provide an evidence-based approach paired with proven strategies that can work for all children. 

Developed in close consultation with reading experts and real teachers, you will find classroom-proven, teaching strategies; videos that demonstrate best practices from classrooms around the country; and concrete answers to common reading challenges. 

For now, our content spans kindergarten through first grade, but with time and funding, we will cover preschool through sixth grade.

Understanding the Big Picture

Our Values

Our values are driven by the recognition of reading as a civil right and belief that every child is capable of learning to read when given caring and systematic instruction. 

Open Access

Everything on Reading Universe is available at no cost and without need for logging in.

Continuous Learning

Recognizing the critical need for professional and personal growth, Reading Universe provides a supportive and flexible environment that meets you where you are in your teaching journey.


Reading Universe shares research-based and classroom-tested strategies that work. 


We put educator voices at the forefront to ensure that our content meets their needs.


At the core of Reading Universe is a professional learning environment where everyone is welcome.

Our Partners

Reading Universe is brought to you by:

  • The Barksdale Reading Institute, working to improve the overall quality of public education in Mississippi through strategic literacy initiatives and by providing professional development to teachers and administrators. 

  • WETA, the leading public broadcasting station in the nation's capital and serves our community with educational, cultural, news and public affairs programs and services. Its ambitious national education projects include Reading Rockets, Colorin Colorado, AdLit, and LDonline. 

  • First Book, a non-profit social enterprise that addresses the needs of the whole child supporting their education, basic needs, and wellness – all of which are essential to educational equity. All of these resources are made affordable to our member network of more than 550,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need.
Get to Know Our Partners

Our Team

With expertise in teaching, instruction design, professional development and multimedia production, our team is committed to helping every child learn to read.

Meet our Team
A group of children looking at a book in the library

Our Advisors

Our advisory board includes some of the most knowledgeable and influential voices in the field of education.

Meet our Reading Experts
Children raising their hands in a classroom

Educator Cadre

We rely on a team of expert educators to make sure that we are answering the most urgent questions that teachers have.

Meet our Educator Cadre

Reading Universe History

Reading Universe is deeply grounded in the remarkable 20-year history of The Barksdale Reading Institute, founded and funded by Jim Barksdale to advance literacy in his home state of Mississippi.

Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the U.S. and historically ranked at or near the bottom in terms of reading achievement. Over the last decade, in large part due to the Barksdale Reading Institute's persistence in bringing the science of reading to every level of Mississippi's education pipeline, Mississippi's reading rankings improved dramatically.

As a result, the state stands alone in its rate of progress: from last place to the national average for fourth grade reading, to second place nationally in growth for low-income children; and to seventh place in growth for African American students.

Reading Universe Updates


Reading Universe is made possible by the generous support of Jim & Donna Barksdale, The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and two anonymous donors.

Learn More

Support Reading Universe

Reading Universe is an online service that provides evidence-based strategies and practical guidance to help educators and parents teach their children to read. For now, our content spans kindergarten to first grade, but your donation will help us expand to cover preschool through sixth grade. Give today!