The Reading Is Fundamental model

The Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) model integrates the joy of reading to drive reading motivation, frequency, and engagement into Scarborough’s Reading Rope. By intentionally integrating the joy with the science of reading, we can have greater, measurable impact on reading proficiency. 

Girls sharing a book reading moment on playground

The RIF model: how it works

Dr. Hollis Scarborough invented the concept of the Reading Rope in the early 1990s, which illustrates the two major strands that are woven together for a child to become a skilled reader: language comprehension and word recognition. These two major strands and their subcomponents have largely become referred to as the Science of Reading (SOR) due to the abundance of high-quality, empirical studies that support instructional programs and curriculums tied to these reading strands.  

RIF’s model is based on the belief that in addition to these two major strands, there is a third major strand that must be fully integrated into the rope to successfully drive reading proficiency: JOY! RIF defines the joy of reading by demonstrated increases in students’ reading motivation, frequency, and engagement.

RIF MODEL - complex

Research indicates joy to be an equally important thread that alone does not drive reading proficiency—but when combined with word recognition and language comprehension, supports measurable reading outcomes for children. 

Reading together outside father and son

Research that validates the RIF model

Research studies validate the joy of reading model for driving the frequency, motivation, and engagement that children need to become skilled readers. Moreover, research shows that having a home library is a strong predictor of educational outcomes.

Book selection table at RIF - Macy's - Detroit school library

Our Theory of Change Models

The foundation for our programmatic work is shown through RIF’s Theory of Change models aligned to each of our programs. Learn how these models demonstrate that our work is making a profound difference for educators, families—and most important, the children we reach.

RIF in action

Since 1966, we’ve partnered with educators, families, and literacy advocates to change the trajectory of the literacy crisis. Check out the latest from RIF.