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Inspiration and Imagination

RocketReader provides hundreds of carefully graded readings from basic reading level to adult level proficiency. The readings are designed to cater for the interests and aspirations of various groups, including boys¹ and girls².

RocketReader stories are all comprehension tested to check reading progress and understanding. These are all carefully designed with a target audience in mind, to connect with the user’s interests. The following excerpt from a reading about skateboarding in RocketReader illustrates the careful selection and monitoring which underpins the design and authoring of each story. Firstly, the target audience for this story titled ‘Johnny and the Boys’ Extreme Skateboarding Adventure’ is boys aged from eight years of age. It has an ARI rating of 3.0, and a Wheeler Smith rating of 3.6. It has a RocketReader grade level of 4.8. What is distinctive about this story is that it makes use of jargon which is easily recognizable and widely used by this target audience, such as ‘wiped out’, ‘dude’, ‘kickturn’, and ‘fakie’. It taps into the common interests of the target audience, with subjects which include choppers, motorcycles, skateboards, competition and tricks. Learning is enhanced when it is situated in a context which a person can relate to. It is this philosophy which drives the design of readings and comprehension tests in RocketReader. RocketReader aims to make reading fun, enjoyable and relevant to a user’s experience, so they are motivated and inspired to learn and read. The excerpt follows:

Being a kid from San Francisco, I learned to skateboard when I was four years old. Most of my friends are the same way. Every afternoon after school, we go down to the Embarcadero, the hot skate spot in the city.

“Johnny, you got any new moves?” The question came from my best friend, Mark. Mark was wearing Depp and Usher. New multi-part adventure stories are included about school girls who set out together on various trips to the Big Apple, a boat cruise and other exciting adventures. baggy shorts and an oversized Orange Country Choppers T-shirt. He was also really into motorcycles.

I went up the ramp and did a kickturn. “That’s not new,” Mark said, seeming disappointed. “I haven’t practiced any new moves lately. What do you have?” I challenged.

Mark was up for the challenge. He got in a natural stance and started off up the ramp. He turned and rode backward in a fakie and then turned again. When he got to the top of the ramp, he jumped, and his skateboard balanced on the edge. He then rode the edge and jumped the nine feet down. He didn’t have a really smooth landing, but he picked himself up. “What did you think?” he asked. “That looks hard. I don’t know if I want to jump down all that way,” I replied.

“Dude, it’s only nine feet. It’s nothing,” he baited me. Unable to resist the challenge, I tried to repeat what he’d done. I couldn’t maintain my balance, though, and slipped off before I had a chance to skate off the ledge. I heard laughter behind me.

“Dude, you totally wiped out,” said my friend Mike. Apparently, the whole gang was there to witness my fall.

“Well, you try it then. It’s not as easy as it looks,” I challenged Mike. The other guys egged him on, and before long, we were all taking turns wiping out on the ledge. Surprisingly, no one had to go to the hospital!

Another example of reading is ‘The Vacation House’ which is aimed at girls for ages eight plus. The story describes a group of school girls that go to work at a bed and breakfast during their school vacation. Following is an excerpt.

“I’m kinda scared,” Amanda said.
“I’ve never cooked before either, but Granny said we need to know how to do everything in case we ever need to do it,” I answered.
“It’s not that bad. She shows you how to do everything step by step,” Nell encouraged us.
“What if we mess up dinner?” Amanda asked.
“Granny’s going to help us. She isn’t going to turn us loose,” Nell laughed. Just then Granny flounced in like a twenty-year-old.
“Okay, girls, did everyone wash their hands?” Granny asked,
cheerful as ever. “Yes,” we all replied.
“We’re going to make lobster a la Martin. That’s my own recipe,” Granny said with a laugh.
I was shocked to learn that the lobsters were live! I didn’t know that we’d have to put them in the boiling water. “Otherwise they let out a poison,” Granny explained. We got the water boiling and then Granny said, “Okay, grab a lobster.”
“We have to put them in?” I asked, horrified.
“How else are they going to get in?” Granny smiled. Hesitantly, we all grabbed a lobster and tossed it into the huge pot of boiling water. This was the hardest part. Then Granny set us to work on mixing a sauce for the lobster and peeling potatoes. “We’re going to add the potatoes in a minute,” Granny said. After some frantic boiling, Granny pulled the lobsters out of the pot and set them into a larger pan. Then we added the sauce Amanda and I had mixed. Nell fished out the potatoes and set them around the lobsters. “Oh, the bread. Let’s get that in the oven. Can one of you pre-heat the oven please?” Granny asked.
“How do I do that?” I asked. Granny laughed and walked to the stove. “Just turn this button. When the timer goes off, put the bread in. ”We found the butter sauce and garlic. “This is going to go on the bread with this brush,” Granny explained. When we got done, the meal was beautiful. It looked fit for a king.
“Where did you learn how to do this?” Amanda asked.
“Oh, here and there,” Granny answered elusively and carried the lobster platter into the dining room.

  1. Boys’ readings are packed with action: dirt biking, extreme sports, snowboarding, NASCAR, rap, monster trucks, heavy metal, pro surfing, game fishing, radio controlled cars, dungeons and dragons, baseball cards, Lego design, football sensation David Beckham, and Tony Hawke landing the 900.
  2. Girls’ readings include stories about superstars and heroes such as Lisa Simpson, Shakira, Beyonce, Johnny

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