The Magic of Rainbow Reading

In a cosy room tucked away at the back of Room 6 you can find students reading away under the calming influence of Teacher Associate Diana Fitzsimmons.

Headphones on and strange looking pens at the ready, they tap the ‘magic dots,’ more commonly known as ‘reading dots’ and hey presto! The students have started their Rainbow Reading session.

Comment: You click the reading dots with the pen and it reads the story for you. I have to follow the words though . Zoe


Comment: Rainbow Reading has helped Zoe with her fluency and to learn the correct sentence structures,  which in turn helps her writing. Diana Teacher Associate.

Comment: I like the language they use in the Toxic Series. It has helped me with my English. Kritnesh


The Reading Pens cost about $150 each, and Wairakei have purchased several as part of the programme. Each Pen contains audio files for the books that form part of the Rainbow Reading Text.

After students have read the stories four times using the pens, they have a variety of activities to complete including word finds, cloze reading (fill the in gap), sequencing and comprehension activities. It takes about a week to complete the reading and related activities for each book.

Students work at their own pace, so we can have a variety of reading levels working at the same time, says Diana.


Students are chosen for the programme based on school wide data. Regular assessments including running records are taken to track progress and students are discontinued when they are reading fluently and understand what they are reading or  have reached a reading age of 10 or 11. 

Comment: It helps me learn to read and it is really fun using the pen. Zoe.

Wairakei Primary have been using the Rainbow Reading programme for about six years. It is the brainchild of Nelson based teacher  Meryl-Lynn Pluck who developed the programme with the aim of improving competency in reading and developing confidence in reluctant and or ESOL learners. Sadly, Meryl passed away in 2019, but her family is keeping her legacy alive with an ever-increasing variety of texts available. RainbowReadingWebsite provides more about the history of Rainbow Reading. 

Keywords: rainbow reading, reading

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