Readtopia is a comprehensive reading curriculum for middle and high school students with autism and other complex needs. It brings first-hand experiential learning into the classroom—teaching students standards-aligned social studies, ELA, and science content.

Opening Experiential Learning to Everyone

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: leveled graphic novels, video, informational text, phonics / word study, and assessment.

Teacher Guide

A Teacher Guide is included with each thematic unit. It walks teachers through each step of implementation chapter-by-chapter.

Leveled Graphic Novels

Graphic novels at seven levels are driven by age-respectful images to reinforce text. The book covers are all the same, but inside, the text is carefully leveled!


Each Thematic Unit is anchored by video. It engages, builds background knowledge, establishes vocabulary, and builds visual mental models of the lessons.

Informational Text

Students experience 10 different 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

Phonics / Word Study

Each thematic unit includes 15 Phonics / Sight Words / Word Study lessons covering both topic-specific vocabulary and high frequency word sets for general word identification. Sight words for each chapter include AAC Core Vocabulary Words.

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.


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

Readtopia Educators Say

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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.

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

We cover ELA, social studies, and science standards the way they were intended. Readtopia covers standards in a way that’s respectful to the students and to the teacher.

DLM EE Alignment

Readtopia Reading Levels Correlation Chart

Readtopia Multi-State Alternate Assessment: Core Content Connectors Alignment

Texas STAAR Alternate 2 Alignment

The Readtopia Evidence-Base White Paper


Readtopia employs evidence-based approaches to teach English language arts (ELA) and reading as part of integrated curriculum units that are rooted in meaningful social studies and science topics. This white paper describes the evidence-base supporting the instruction in ELA and reading at the conventional and emergent levels.

Readtopia Evidence-Based White Paper

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