Ladder of Reading & Writing© Infographic

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Examiner, Volume 7, Issue 3
July 2018

[Editorial Note: This infographic has been updated. Please click here to access the current version on Nancy Young’s website.}


By Georgette Dickman

Nancy Young, a member of IDA, holds a Master’s of Education in Special Education with a focus on dyslexia. She has extensive experience and knowledge in teaching evidence-based approaches in reading, spelling, and writing to parents, teachers, and students. In schools across Canada, Young provides professional development that includes coaching, assessment, IEP planning, and reading/writing program development and evaluation. She is the author of Secret Code Actions, a book that offers the instructional basics most children need to learn the code using creative movement as an integral part of instruction.

The concept of The Ladder of Reading emerged during Young’s lectures with teachers and parents who believed the myth that Structured Literacy was only beneficial and necessary for struggling readers. To counter that misunderstanding, she created an infographic featuring the categories and percentages that illustrated the ratio of individuals who require an explicit, sequential, systematic, phonics-based approach to learning to read, compared to the small proportion of individuals who learn to read effortlessly. With a few well-chosen words, the Ladder conveys the point, frequently unknown, that a Structured Literacy approach to beginning reading is advantageous for most students.

Infographics are visual presentations with minimal text to explain complex information. Under Young’s direction, Dean Stanton’s artwork features three smiling children in various stages of learning to read. To show that learning to read should be exciting and fun, the children are waving and happy. The Ladder of Reading is the mechanism that provides support as the students build their reading skills. At the top of the Ladder, the little bird symbolizes independence and indicates that skilled reading has been achieved. At this point, with basic skills mastered, the students fly away and comprehend on their own. Finally, The Ladder of Reading chart is color-coded from red (risk area) that demands a Structured Literacy approach to green (safety area) that is advantaged by a Structured Literacy approach.

It is clear that Nancy Young’s infographic has hit its mark!

For more on the statistics underpinning Nancy Young’s infographic, please click here: The Ladder of Reading Statistics. For a gallery of other IDA and third-party infographics, please visit our Infographics page.

Do you have an infographic you would like to be considered for publication in IDA’s Infographics gallery? Send inquiries with links/.jpgs to


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