What works in early reading materials

By Ana Robledo, Amber K. Gove

Access to books is key to learning to read and sustaining a love of reading. Yet many low- and middle-income countries struggle to provide their students with reading materials of sufficient quality and quantity. Since 2008, RTI International has provided technical assistance in early reading assessment and instruction to ministries of education in dozens of low- and middle-income countries. The central objective of many of these programs has been to improve learning outcomes—in particular, reading—for students in the early grades of primary school. Under these programs, RTI has partnered with ministry staff to produce and distribute evidence-based instructional materials at a regional or national scale, in quantities that increase the likelihood that children will have ample opportunities to practice reading skills, and at a cost that can be sustained in the long term by the education system. In this paper, we seek to capture the practices RTI has developed and refined over the last decade, particularly in response to the challenges inherent in contexts with high linguistic diversity and low operational capacity for producing and distributing instructional materials. These practices constitute our approach to developing and producing instructional materials for early grade literacy. We also touch upon effective planning for printing and distribution procurement, but we do not consider the printing and distribution processes in depth in this paper. We expect this volume will be useful for donors, policymakers, and practitioners interested in improving access to cost-effective, high-quality teaching and learning materials for the early grades.


Robledo, A., & Gove, A. K. (2019). What works in early reading materials. (RTI Press Publication No. OP-0058-1902), (Knowledge and Practice in International Development No. 2). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. https://doi.org/10.3768/rtipress.2018.op.0058.1902

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Ana RobledoAna Robledo, EdM, is a Research Education Analyst for the International Education Division of the International Development Group (IDG) at RTI International.

Amber K. GoveAmber Gove, PhD, is Research Director for the International Education Division of IDG at RTI International.

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