Readtopia is a special education instructional program designed for teachers who work with  middle and high school students with autism and other complex needs. It serves as an integrated comprehensive reading curriculum across several domains of study including ELA, Math, Social Studies, Life Skills, and Science.

What Helps You Teach Helps Them Learn

In Readtopia you won’t find elementary-looking line drawings and “See Spot Run” text. Readtopia was designed to bring first-hand experiential learning into the classroom, so students can bridge the gap between learning through reading, and learning through experiencing. We take students down 1,000 feet in a submarine as we learn about oceanography. We hear from Sacagawea to understand the journey Lewis and Clark faced heading west. We bring students into a volcano in Iceland as a way to introduce them to the book Journey to the Center of the Earth. All of this is supported by authentic literature, phonics/early reading instruction, and informational text that builds foundational reading skills. Readtopia delivers the curriculum through thematic units that will help you transform classrooms into laboratories of experiential learning—engaging teachers and students alike.

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Program Components

All of the Readtopia resources are available online to subscribers including ongoing releases. Each Thematic Unit includes a teacher guide that walks educators step-by-step through instruction using the Readtopia resources including:


• ELA / Reading — Includes all components of a comprehensive reading curriculum and resources including Informational Text, Phonics/Word Study, Videos, Graphic Novels, and Literature

• Math — Integrated math lessons (at up to six levels) connect with thematic units—delivering instruction in context

• Social Studies — Social Studies subjects take students around the world to learn by experiencing

• Functional Life SkillsFunctional Life Skills cover three major life domains: Daily Living Skills, Self-Determination/Interpersonal Skills, Employment Skills

• Science — Students learn about science topics while hands-on with experiments to make predictions about the world

Integrated lessons guide the highest quality instruction

Integrated Thematic Units are the glue that holds the teacher and classroom together. They integrate subject areas and skill development into a unified whole that provides the guidance and materials to help teachers fully reach students with all kinds of abilities, backgrounds, and knowledge.

Differentiated to meet the widest range of learners

With graphic novels and literature at seven levels, you get the resources to meet student needs from non-readers to paragraph readers. Age-respectful images reinforce text. The book covers are all the same, but inside, the text is carefully leveled! 

Rooted in experiential learning

Each Thematic Unit is anchored by video captured by the Readtopia team in their travels throughout the world. These videos and the related content, engage, build background knowledge, establish vocabulary, and build visual mental models of the lessons.

Infused with informational text

New standards call for an increased emphasis on informational text covering 50-70% of reading materials. Each Thematic Unit includes informational text and worksheets at four different four different skill levels. Across Thematic Unites, students experience 10 standards-based text types including Compare and Contrast, Bibliography, Map, Chart/Graph, Directions, Timeline, Article with a Sidebar, Two Text Types (with same subject), Claim/Evidence, Fantastic Facts. 

Integrated Functional Life Skills framework

Each Thematic Unit contains lessons linked to Functional Life Skills from three major life domains: Daily Living Skills, Self-Determination/Interpersonal Skills, Employment Skills.

Built-in Assessment for Growth

Student response to instruction is assessed several times during each Thematic Unit. Data is easily collected and compared across units.

Readtopia Educators Say

Readtopia® Pricing

Get access to over $5 million worth of instructional materials for the price of an iPad… and lock it in for up to three years with this special pricing. Homeschool/Parents: While Readtopia was designed for classroom instruction, many parents express interest in using Readtopia with their children. Call us at 800-999-4660 if you’re interested in bringing Readtopia to your home.

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Readtopia supports students in middle and high school, as well as students in transitional programs. We have seen success with fourth and fifth grade students, but the content should be reviewed to ensure it is appropriate for your students.
Each lesson requires about 30 minutes, so the suggested three daily lessons can be delivered at various times throughout the day (e.g. English/Language Arts, Social Studies/Science, etc.). Its flexibility supports a busy daily schedule!
Readtopia was built for a 90 minute literacy period, but if that is not feasible in your specific circumstances, fewer lessons can be taught each day without compromising the effectiveness of the curriculum. Most teachers, however, have found creative strategies for maintaining the 90 minute schedule.
Instructional components deliver standards with integrity to the widest range of learners.
  • Clear and comprehensive instructions help ensure teachers have the resources they need to engage students and deliver the content for each lesson. Tip sheets offer guidance to classroom aides and paras on subjects such as how to support students using AAC devices, and using effective instructional strategies to support students at various ability levels.
  • Authentic literature is used as the anchor reading book for each Readtopia unit.
  • Graphic novels at six levels match each student’s instructional level. They feature age respectful images that support the text and allow students to move up to the next level at any time.
  • Videos are used to build background knowledge, introduce new vocabulary and build a mental model for new concepts and content. This experiential learning approach brings students right into the action! (There are 4-5 videos included with each unit.)
  • Leveled informational text cover ten different text types which cover basic core science and social studies concepts.
  • Phonics, word study and sight words are built through book-specific and general phonics lessons.
  • Classroom Support Tools include content specific assessments and tools that monitor progress. These allow teachers to easily adjust their instruction on the fly. The Adult Tip Sheets provides support for all of the adults within the classroom.
We have a simple online tool that guides teachers toward the most appropriate beginning reading level for their students. This is based on the student’s communication skills, individual word reading, and text reading skills. Students often finish each unit at a higher level than they could access successfully at the beginning of the unit. When it comes to leveling the text, we started with the specific authoring criteria that was developed by Start-to-Finish. Then, we extended the criteria in order to reach the transitional and emergent levels in Readtopia. When creating the various levels, authors and editors looked at: (a) percentage of words that come from the 100 highest frequency words in written English; (b) percentage of words that come from the 330 highest frequency words in written English; (c) the type-token ratio – a measure of the number of different words in the text; (d) percentage of words that can be decoded using based phoneme-by-phoneme blending; (e) percentage of words that can be decoded using onset-rime strategies; (f) total number of words; (g) total number of syllables; (h) sentence & t-unit length; (i) syntactic complexity; (j) use of pronouns; (k) inference demands.
The literature books include modified MAZE assessments after every third chapter. The modified MAZE assessment provides important insight into each student’s literature comprehension. MAZE, a well-accepted approach to progress monitoring, is particularly important in Readtopia because it is accessible to a wide range of students, including those who cannot read orally or whose speech is difficult to understand.
Vocabulary quizzes allow teachers to assess whether or not students are learning the content vocabulary taught in each unit.
Reading comprehension and close reading lessons include tasks that give teachers a daily snapshot of student performance and the gains they are making.

Resources & Support

Get the most out of your Learning, Evaluation and Curriculum Tools with our how-to guides, video tutorials, and more.

Thematic Units

With your Readtopia subscription, you get access to ALL current titles as well as all future releases. Each thematic unit contains 6-12 weeks worth of content.
Download Thematic Unit Instructional Elements

Upcoming Thematic Units

Future Planned Thematic Units:

Native Americans, Civil Rights, Slavery and Equality, Underground Railroad, American Revolution, Jane Goodall

Standards Alignment (taken to the next level)

A recent research study revealed that less than 6% of the content in many of the most commonly used special education programs were only rated as a “near link” to the general education curriculum. Many of these programs don’t claim to be a comprehensive curriculum but are often used as a comprehensive curriculum. Sometimes it requires a stretch of the imagination to connect with general education curriculum standards, which makes it hard to meet alternate assessment expectations. When you look at these materials, they often don’t look anything like what the general education curriculum and resources look like. With Readtopia, every element from the informational text and videos, to the age-respectful graphic novels and chapter books have strong ties to the curriculum and would be engaging for any student from general education to special education. 


DLM EE Alignment

Readtopia Reading Levels Correlation Chart

Readtopia Multi-State Alternate Assessment: Core Content Connectors Alignment

Texas STAAR Alternate 2 Alignment

Readtopia Essential Elements for Science: Standards for Middle School

Readtopia Essential Elements for Science: Standards for High School


The Readtopia® Evidence-Base: A White Paper by Dr. Karen Erickson details the research foundations supporting Readtopia.

Readtopia Team

We are an interdisciplinary dream team that has turned our dreams into reality. We have traveled the world to capture the sights and sounds of legendary stories so that your classroom can help students transport themselves through reading. Our contributors include specialists in literature, literacy, history, education, photography, film, alternate assessment, and exploration.

View Readtopia Team