History of the Superkids Reading Program

Pleasant Rowland - forty years ago
Pleasant T. Rowland (1975)
As a young teacher, Pleasant Rowland was searching for a solution to help her students learn to read. The reading materials she was given weren’t working. So for the sake of her students, she decided to do something about it.

Ms. Rowland began to study the literature of leading developmental psychologists, reading experts, and education theorists. In 1978, she combined what she learned with her own classroom experience to create Superkids, a phonics-based reading program that integrated reading, spelling, listening, and speaking. The program was implemented in hundreds of classrooms across the nation, where it won the hearts of the students and teachers who used it.

In the early 1980s, the Superkids’ publisher ceased marketing the program but continued to supply Superkids to schools already dedicated to it. For almost two decades, Superkids quietly continued to teach children to read and write, held safe in the hands of teachers who believed in it because it worked.

In 2000, the findings of the National Reading Panel confirmed the importance of explicit, systematic phonics instruction and the integration of reading with the language arts—the very pillars of the Superkids program. Ms. Rowland knew the time was right to reintroduce Superkids.

In 2003, Ms. Rowland formed the nonprofit Rowland Reading Foundation to update and distribute the Superkids Reading Program and to support research into the most effective way to teach children how to read.

Today, research into the cognitive processes underlying reading has advanced dramatically. We know with more certainty than ever what constitutes effective reading instruction. Current research has verified the principles and practices of the beginning reading program Ms. Rowland created almost 40 years ago.

“Superkids is dedicated to that loyal band of teachers who held it safe for so long, with special appreciation for the illustrator, Loretta Lustig, who, when asked to produce a cast of engaging, timeless characters, created the Superkids—an enduring gift to children and teachers that, like the program itself, has proven timeless, indeed.”

- Pleasant T. Rowland