Welcome, and thank you for continuing our learning journey together. 

This site presents the case for "why" we need to think differently about reading and a proposal for 'what" we can do to more optimally facilitate learning to read.

As we went back and forth between telling the case for "why" and developing the "what" proposal, what we discovered about the story of "why" blossomed into what we began to call 'the greatest story never told'. The more we shared the story the more important it became to tell the story of "why" independently of "what" we were proposing.  This distinction led to the Children of the Code Project. 

As the Children of the Code project developed on its own track with its own website, this site was frozen and, in many respects, superseded. The site you are about to enter has been frozen for 10 years and has had very little updates in almost 7 years. In 2010 descriptions and designs of the PCUES technology discussed here was take over and demonstrated by a new Training Wheels for Literacy site which was itself later (2016) taken over by the "Magic Ladder".

This site remains useful in providing background on the Training Wheels proposal. Though the site has been preserved in its entirety and has many interesting pieces I encourage you to peruse, the following links will be of the greatest interest to those of you who have understood the basic Children of the Code story and who want to understand the Training Wheels for Literacy proposal. 

Theoretical Foundations (proposal)

The Training Wheels system has evolved quite a bit since the days of these writings. Unfortunately, our website update work is lagging our progress.  We now have a functioning prototype of the system.

We want the success of this way of learning to read to act as a large social billboard for the value of stewarding the ecology of learning of stewarding the health of our children's learning.  For more on that see implicity:

The following then is the initial home page of the Training Wheels for Literacy web site:

Thanks for caring enough to be here, 

David Boulton



"P-Cues certainly looks good to me". Marvin Minsky - MIT Media Lab and AI Lab  (USA)

"As a linguist I'm all in favor of your method". Martin Haspelmath Max-Planck Institut fur evolutionare Anthropologie (Germany)

"P-Cues holds compelling promise" John Vasconcellos – California Senator, Chair of the Senate Education Committee 

"The Training Wheels approach is a novel and promising way of tackling a long-standing serious social problem, the functional illiteracy of many young people in the United States and other English-speaking countries."  Robin Allott - Linguist, Author of the Motor Theory of Language Origin 1989 and of The Great Mosaic Eye 2001 (on the origin and usefulness of the alphabet).  (England)

Some people there are who, being grown, forget the horrible task of learning to read. It is perhaps the greatest single effort that the human undertakes, and he must do it as a child.  
                                                John Steinbeck,
1962 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature
“We have a genuine national crisis. More and more, we are divided into two nations. One that reads, and one that doesn't. One that dreams, and one that doesn't.”  President George W. Bush in "No Child Left Behind" 2001

·    The emotional and intellectual self-assumptions of our children, their opportunities in school and in life are dramatically affected, all but fated, by how well they learn to read.

·   Over 70% of our schoolteacher’s believe that reading is the #1 priority of primary school. An even greater number believe that reading is the gateway to all other academic learning.  

·   Almost 70 % of our 4th graders and 60% of our 12th graders are less than proficient in reading. 20% never read and another 20% never read higher than a 4th or 5th grade level. 

·   Today, almost 100 million adults read below the 5th grade level and, as a consequence, lose over two hundred billion dollars a year.

"... an article in the Wall Street Journal reported that this nation faces an epidemic as serious as the polio epidemic in the late 50's. This new disease does not affect children physically, but is equally destructive for their future. It is called "functional illiteracy" and has overtaken one third of America's children by the fourth grade. This is a problem that cuts across every community, every neighborhood, and every socio-economic level."   Anne Ford, Chairman, National Center for Learning Disabilities

Why do we have such reading difficulties?

Learning to read is essentially the process of mastering a “code”. This code is completely unnatural. It has no evolutionary precedent. It is a relatively recent human invention.  

This code is ‘buggy’. Twenty six letters combine in hundreds of ways to represent 44 sounds.   

Breakdowns in the flow of reading correspond to letter-sound-spelling ambiguities in the code. Having to process this ambiguity during decoding overwhelms developing minds - it overwhelms the attention and memory processes needed for comprehension. The majority of our reading problems stem from the 'mental stutters' which directly correspond to processing  letter-sound-spelling ambiguities. 

Over the past 400 years there have been numerous attempts to address this problem.   They all failed because they required either the alphabet or the way we spell to change.  

Phonics jumped out of the alphabet vs spelling box by ‘training the user’ rather than changing the code.  Though clearly a necessary component within our current thinking about reading, Phonics is a 400 year old attempt to 'work-around' the dysfunction or ‘bugs’ within the ‘code’.  It’s a grossly inefficient compromise based on accepting the code as unchangeable.  

All previous efforts to address the code's problems were anchored in a model of 'printing' that was  itself limited by what was and was not practical within the tedious mechanical constraints of the printing press. Today, with modern personal computers, it is possible to 'morph' how letters appear when printed (paper or screen) so as to 'cue' their sounds to the minds of developing readers.  Without changing the alphabet or the English spelling, we can address the 'code bugs' by creating a new 'circuit' within our orthography which significantly reduces the 'ambiguity overwhelm' involved in learning to read.

If these issues concern you, read us out.


"Keep me away from ~ the greatness which does not bow before children" -- Kahlil Gibran

From the heart to the mind for the spirit,

for the children.

©Copyright 2001 - 2003: Training Wheels for Literacy & Implicity