About Reading Bear

Reading Bear, a project of, is the first free program online to teach beginning readers vocabulary and concepts while systematically introducing all the main phonetic patterns of written English, all using innovative rich media. We spent an enormous amount of time developing 50 presentations, covering even more phonics principles and illustrating over 1,200 vocabulary items. There is nothing else like it, free or otherwise.

How does it work? In each presentation—playable either as a video or as an interactive slide show—we introduce one or a few related “phonics rules.” Presentations are available in seven different versions. In the fullest version, we sound out a word slowly and quickly, then blend it slowly, and finally (after an optional prompt) blend it quickly. As sounds are pronounced, the corresponding letters are highlighted. Then we display a picture illustrating the word, show a sentence (with the individual sounds again highlighted, karaoke style), and finally show a video illustrating the sentence. Presentations give this treatment to around 25 words, though some have more and some have less. The result is a thorough yet painless introduction to phonics principles, while at the same time teaching vocabulary. There are many other features, which we encourage you to explore by clicking on our Getting Started page.

We hope you will use Reading Bear in a non-stressful, non-pressuring way. Learning to read can be fun and easy, if you go at the child's pace instead of some pre-determined pace.

Reading Bear and WatchKnowLearn are free, ad-free, non-profit projects of the St. Charles Place Education Foundation. Initial generous funding for these projects came from a Memphis-area benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous. This anonymous supporter also provided the original motivation to pursue the Reading Bear project. While these projects are free, you are very welcome to support their further development via the St. Charles Place Education Foundation. Contact Walt Henley at [email protected].

Reading Bear’s images and many of its videos were generously donated by, whom we wish to offer deep thanks. The rest of the videos were also provided by Shutterstock, at a significant discount.

The project’s designer is Larry Sanger, who conceived the project, designed the software, and carefully edited each presentation. Larry is best known as co-founder and the original organizer of Wikipedia, but also took the lead in developing WatchKnowLearn and Citizendium, among other reference and educational projects. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Ohio State in 2000, with a specialization in theory of knowledge. He is the father of two boys, ages 5 and 1. He taught his older son to read at an early age with various tools, including an early flashcard version of Reading Bear. The flashcards (in PDF form) are available free here. The baby enjoys watching Reading Bear presentations, too, in five-word chunks (see the A, B, C letters below the presentation titles).

For the first 16 presentations, we received significant help from volunteers, whom we are proud to credit below.

For programming, design, and voiceover, we were lucky to find some excellent professionals—we’re happy to give them credit below.


Please mail [email protected] about all issues related to the project.


Managing Editor: Walt Henley ([email protected])
Designer: Larry Sanger
Funding: Anonymous, via the St. Charles Place Education Foundation
Institutional Support: St. Charles Place Education Foundation, Walt Henley, Executive Director
Programming: Business Edge
Voiceover (both audio and video): Melissa Moats
Editors (presentations 1-16): Heidi Sherman (special thanks), Lezah St Jean, Tere Scott, and Rachel Goss; also Autumn Clabaugh, Laurie Tiemans, Liew Jin Jin, Brandy Lighthall; and others
Editors and content assistance (presentations 17-50): Cybervation Page Design: Isaiah Paul D. Cabanting
Logo Design: Gabriel Uguet
Most images and videos: thanks to Shutterstock for donations and discounts
Thanks also to the members of the forums and the TeachYourBabyToRead Yahoo! group for beta testing, feature requests, and feedback.

Media generously donated by:
We would love your TESTIMONIAL!

Has your child or student benefited from the Reading Bear program?

We would love to hear from you! 

As our way of saying "Thank You" for taking the time to send us a testimonial,
we would like to send you our collection of PDF printable exercises linked to each of the 50 Reading Bear modules (two per module).

Please send your testimonial to [email protected] ... and be sure to check out our free, educational video website at WatchKnowLearn !


Select Presentation and Play
Sounds word out both slowly and quickly.
Sounds word out quickly (only).
Shows word without sounding it out.
Shows only words and pictures with audio.
Shows only words and pictures with no audio.
Shows only sentences and media with audio.
Shows only sentences and media without audio.