Russ Fugal, Founding Editor

My three children were each struggling readers in unique ways, yet their reading proficiency in grades 6, 4, and 1 are above the 90th percentiles. Books publishes products that I write and code with the goal of helping all children master reading.

My oldest daughter demanded literacy. I had a plan to cultivate her numerical literacy, to raise a toddler with precocious mathematical abilities. She had other plans. She demanded to be read stories.

Her first audiobook was Alice in Wonderland. I’d never read it, but she’d finish it once a day, every day, and she loved it. She has since been insatiable. It doesn’t stop: Annie Barrows, Nick Bruel, Beverly Cleary, Debbie Dadey, Roald Dahl, Dan Gutman, Shannon Hale, Victoria Kann, Jeff Kinney, Ann M. Martin, Daisy Meadows, Mary Pope Osborne, Barbara Park, J.K. Rowling, Lemony Snicket, Geronimo Stilton, and many more — hundreds of books before she had even turned six. She learned to read, so nearly all of them weren’t audiobooks.

My second child, my son is much more like me. Invested heavily in weaning my daughter of story-time, I tracked her development closely. I know the precise moment she became a reader, and what the catalytic practice was. I thought it was interesting, but I didn’t assume my son would learn in the same way. He initially struggled with reading. He could easily name all the letters at four years old, still at five he often confused the letters b and d, or slowly recited the letters of a printed word out of order even while he dragged his finger across from left to right — it even took him more than 60 seconds to recite all the letters of a five-letter word, while he dragged his finger across from left to right. But chewing gum helped. That’s when I began researching dyslexia.

Reading has never been an easy pastime for me. I would like to think that dyslexia is more than struggle, that it is a diagnosis of power, and that my son and I share in these superpowers, even if only slightly, and even if it did initially cause anxiety about whether or not he would enjoy reading or hate school. I have learned so much about myself by watching my son learn to read and master it, despite the felt intimidation that we share. My goal is to sponsor more children in their primary literacy so that I can learn even more and perhaps prevent some frustration.

So, in 2017 I wrote my research into a novel, began learning to code, and went back to school, first at SLCC then transferring to the University of Utah. While in school, I continued my independent study into reading instruction, and in 2020 I earned a degree in Writing Studies.

My youngest daughter has probably benefitted the most from my research. She's also shaped the applications I'm coding the most. Books is a labor of love, and I hope you find value in it as I have.

Removing the Frustration of
Learning to Read.™