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Readtopia: Shorts
Mini Reading Instruction Units
Designed for Days, Not Weeks

Teachers know how hard it is to plan instruction for the week before vacation begins or when a class transitions between units. To offer educators using Readtopia more flexibility during those periods, we’ve created Readtopia: Shorts, mini-reading instruction units for students with complex learning needs designed to be taught in 1-2+ weeks.

These animal-based units are a teacher’s ideal partner in ensuring comprehensive literacy instruction continues even when the academic calendar is challenging or during shorter instructional periods such as Extended School Year (ESY) programs.

Two faded images of instructional materials from the Readtopia library for special educators including thumbnail images of Readtopia book covers and a sample page of a Readtopia:Short graphic novel

The Benefits of Shorter Reading Instruction Units

Many curricular units–including Readtopia–are designed to extend over 4-6+ weeks. This longer time frame promotes in-depth exploration of a theme or topic, gives students sufficient time to grasp new concepts and skills, and provides a consistent routine that allows for repetition with variety.

However, there are many advantages to shorter units. They are far more flexible than long units, so they are more adaptable to students’ pace and learning styles. Additionally, teachers are often bound by strict curriculum or standardized testing schedules, making it challenging to fit in lengthier units during some times of the year.

Shorter units build teachers’ flexibility to offer a consistent routine of literacy instruction at all times of the year.

What are Readtopia:Shorts?

A Readtopia:Short unit contains all the literacy instructional elements of Readtopia that teachers love–such as comprehensive teacher guides, videos for background knowledge, graphic novels, close reading, word study, and math lessons–and elevates literacy achievement using the same research-based Readtopia methods. 

However, while a traditional Readtopia unit is anchored in a graphic novel that is usually ten chapters long, a Readtopia Short graphic novel is three chapters in length, making it perfect for those times before vacation or when testing is about to begin. 

Each short unit is anchored in a 3-chapter graphic novel about an animal from around the world, something we hear students love to read and learn about. Units also include an additional folktale about the featured animal that can be used to extend the lessons and/or to be sent home to provide a home school connection.

The Readtopia Library for Special Educators

The Readtopia library includes a growing collection for educators with 30+ thematic units anchored in adapted classic literature and non-fiction stories that will include four Readtopia:Short units. Two of these short units will be designed for middle and high school students, and two for upper elementary students. The Pride of Tanzania anchored by The Lions of Tanzania, Elephants: Giants on the Land | The Elephants of Tanzania and Birds that Fly Underwater | Penguins of Antartica are the the first three of the four units to be released.

sample instructional materials from Readtopia including a tablet in the middle showing some of the 30+ Readtopia units.

Accessing Readtopia:Shorts

Readtopia: Shorts are available on the Readtopia subscription website,  MyReadtopia, just as the full-length units are, to support a centralized hub of resources for educators. 

Don’t have Readtopia yet? Access free sample Readtopia instructional materials on My Learning Liftoff  and  get in touch with us at to learn more about bringing comprehensive literacy instruction to your students.


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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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