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Engaging Literacy Instruction
for Learners with Complex Needs

What Makes Readtopia Different and Why it Matters

An educator receiving a high five from a young learner wearing glasses with text overlay: Engaging Literacy Instruction for Learners with Complex Needs

Typing “special education literacy curriculum” into any search engine returns 80,000,000 results. For administrators who need to make curriculum decisions quickly and confidently, that number isn’t just overwhelming–it’s paralyzing. With so many options, it can be hard to know what distinguishes one curriculum from another.

Organized around daily instructional routines that center comprehensive literacy for all, Readtopia and ReadtopiaGO give educators all the materials and resources they need to deliver a special education literacy curriculum that’s engaging, personalized, and committed to helping students achieve their potential.

What Makes Readtopia Different?

Building Wings believes that every student–no matter their learning challenges–can become readers and writers. Rather than “teaching to mastery” like other special education curricula, Readtopia recognizes language and literacy learning as mutually reinforcing. The curriculum  provides repetition with variety so that learners deepen their knowledge, grow their understanding, and generalize new learning across reading, writing, and communication.

Leveled Instructional Materials That Progresses with each Learner

Readtopia’s curricular units are designed to progress with learners as their literacy skills increase. From upper elementary to middle school and high school, Readtopia aligns with special education learners of all levels, from emergent to more proficient.

Every thematic unit is anchored in classic literature or popular literary text and leveled for varying reading competencies. Science, math, and social studies lessons link to various elements of the story. Tales inspired by Black Beauty, The Secret Gardener, Romeo and Juliet, Frankenstein, The Wizard of Oz and The Swiss Family Robinson, among others, extend students’ learning to ecosystems, animals, plants, geography, history, renowned historical figures, anatomy, and more.

By maturing with students, Readtopia becomes a consistent element of a student’s day, helping to build and reinforce key skills. Our newest literacy curriculum, ReadtopiaGO can also be included in a district’s literacy instruction to address the needs of young learners in Pre-K through 2nd-grade.

Evidenced-Based, Standards Aligned and Backed by Literacy Experts

The Readtopia curriculum  prepares students who face learning challenges for taking the alternate assessment by providing ample opportunities for teachers to deliver feedback and track student growth. All instruction is evidence-based, standards-aligned, and drawn from the work of  Dr. Karen Erickson and inspired by founder Don Johnston.

TeachTown uses applied behavior analysis, a common therapy for teaching discrete skills to learners with autism. Educators using TeachTown focus on understanding how behavior works, what in the environment is impacting that behavior, and how that behavior affects learning. In contrast, Readtopia is focused on literacy instruction.

Educators who use Readtopia find behavior issues are minimized because students are interested in the engaging content within the curriculum. Readtopia is impactful for all students with complex needs, not just a particular subset of the special education population.

On-boarding Support and Transparent Pricing

Building Wings is committed to pricing transparency. Once Readtopia is purchased, users have access to every resource in the Readtopia library, which currently contains almost 30 thematic units and is still growing. When new units are added, they automatically appear in subscriber accounts with no additional fees. Two examples of our continuous improvement philosophy, introduction videos and math lessons were also recently added to existing units.

Readtopia’s pricing also includes onboarding and support from a subject matter expert in literacy for students with complex learning needs. Competitors such as TeachTown have subject matter experts on their team, but their expertise is primarily in applied behavioral analysis, not student literacy. If you want your students to achieve literacy, you want the support of experts who have extensive experience in the field.

Importance of the Role of the Educator and Protecting Student Data

We appreciate the critical role educators play in students’ learning how to read. Readtopia provides onboarding, teacher guides, videos created for each unit to help learners build mental models and introduce key concepts, leveled graphic novels, close reading lessons that connect a variety of text types with the story, and social-emotional lessons to generalize literacy with life skills. It not only saves teachers time but also gives them a research-based foundation to deliver effective literacy instruction.

Unlike almost every other edtech company, Readtopia does not collect or store student data. Schools don’t need to worry about cybersecurity breaches and exposing private student information through Readtopia because no personal data is kept online.

Next Steps When Choosing a Literacy Curriculum

When it comes to choosing a comprehensive literacy curriculum for students with complex learning needs, Readtopia checks every box on an educator’s wish list.

Infographic titled 10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Special Education Curriculum including: Does it support a wide range of reading levels? Does it create opportunities for whole group, small group, and one on one instruction? Is it drawn from best practices that support student's learning challenges, Does it decrease the amount of hours spent finding, adapting and aligning curriculum? and others

If you’re choosing between Readtopia and another special education literacy program, please connect with us at so we can work together to find the right solution for your teachers and students. You can also explore free sample Readtopia literacy curriculum materials at our companion site,


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Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D.​

Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. Her focus is on understanding the best ways to assess and teach reading and writing to children with the most severe disabilities. As a special education teacher, Dr. Erickson has worked to support students with a range of disabilities in a variety of classroom settings, particularly students who do not use speech as their primary means of communication.


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