Sold a Story

APM Reports

Millions of kids can't read well. Scientists have known for decades how children learn to read but many schools are ignoring the research. They buy teacher training and books that are rooted in a disproven idea. Emily Hanford investigates four authors and a publishing company that have made millions selling this idea. read less

Our Editor's Take

The Sold A Story podcast is an exposé of how schools teach kids to read using ineffective strategies. Schools got away from phonics. Instead, many taught students to read by guessing words via pictures or context clues. This was considered a more modern method. Cognitive scientists have shown that these methods don't work. There are better techniques to teach children how to read.

Some parents here discovered a terrible thing during the COVID-19 pandemic. They realized their kids couldn't read. That is the springboard for the Sold a Story podcast.

Research shows that teaching children to correlate words with pronunciation is more effective. Yet, most American school districts are slow to embrace more effective strategies like phonics. As shown in this podcast, this led to huge deficits in reading skills in elementary schools.

Award-winning reporter Emily Hanford hosts the podcast Sold A Story. Emily has worked in various capacities in public radio. She has covered the American school system for many years. Emily's expertise in investigative journalism is plain to see on the podcast. She interviews educators, parents, and policymakers. The interviews intersperse an articulate narrative flow that keeps audiences engaged.

Sold A Story debuted in 2022. It examines commercial entities like the Heinemann publishing company. Heinemann's publications have been the preferred books for many teachers for decades. On the podcast, listeners will hear about these books. There is a correlation between them and the shocking number of grade school kids who can't read. The problem is not always dyslexia. The podcast also explores reading programs that still perpetuate a failing practice.

The Sold A Story podcast is blunt, thorough, and helpful. It shows how one person's passion and drive can make a difference. This coverage of a flawed education system and this podcast have made a significant impact. After this podcast, some school districts began making changes. The series has six main episodes and some bonus followup episodes.

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