Meet Ari Fertel
Founder & President
Reading Buddy Software
Reading Buddy Software is a result of one mom's journey to improve her child's reading, turned into a professional opportunity to help others.
An Interview with Ari
Q: How did you become interested children’s reading?
A: It’s personal. I know first-hand the pain a parent feels when their child struggles with reading. Many years ago, I spent thousands of dollars to have my son evaluated when his teacher informed me that he wasn’t able to read like the other children.
Q: So what did you do?
A: I did what I was told. I had him tested. And after 2 days of intensive evaluations (and thousands of dollars out of pocket), I was left all alone with 2 words: Dyslexia and ADD. These words took me into a dark hole of second-guessing and guilt: maybe I didn’t read to him enough, maybe I should have played Mozart in his crib, maybe I shouldn’t have eaten salmon while I was pregnant.
Q: How did you get out of that dark hole?
A: Knowledge! I spent the next few weeks, which turned into months, and then years, researching the keys to improving children’s reading. I educated myself, took training courses, and got my son on what I hoped would be a path to fluency. Long story short—we succeeded! My son, who struggled to get through The Cat in the Hat, was now reading The Catcher in the Rye. A few years after his original diagnosis, I had him retested and verified what I already knew—not only was he reading above grade level, but there was no sign of dyslexia.
Q: This sounds like a mammoth parenting responsibility. How much time did it take you?
A: It took thousands of hours. It’s totally unrealistic for most parents who struggle to balance work, other children, chores, a marriage, etc. That’s why I created Reading Buddy Software. I took everything I learned and all the solutions that worked and put them into one downloadable product.
Q: Can’t school solve the problem?
A: As I explain in my report, “7 Secrets to Transforming Your Child’s Reading,” improving a child’s reading level requires a lot of 1-on-1 instruction, which is simply beyond what’s possible in the classroom.
Q: What about tutoring?
A: Tutoring can work. There are, however, two big problems with tutoring. First, it’s fiercely expensive. For a child to dramatically improve their fluency or comprehension takes at least 100 tutoring sessions. Ideally, these sessions should occur in a 3-6 month period. So you’re talking $5000-$10,000. Most parents don’t have it. Even for parents who do, Reading Buddy Software costs a fraction of that and it’s a better solution.
Q: What’s the second problem with tutoring?
A: The schlep; back and forth to the tutor or the center… who has time for it? Most parents I know aren’t looking for another taxi responsibility.
Q: What about online reading programs or reading games?
A: I looked into every one of them—they don’t work. And the reason is the same in every case—because there’s no real-time corrective feedback. In other words, young readers need on-the-spot help. A tutor, a parent, and Reading Buddy Software are the only solutions that listen to your child read, detect errors, and offer on-the-spot help.
Q: Reading Buddy Software acts like a tutor? It listens to the child read and responds by teaching them? How is that possible?
A: You’re really asking about the origin of Reading Buddy Software. Why did I develop Reading Buddy Software? And what makes it such a unique solution?
Q: Ok, tell me.
A: As we discussed, it’s key for young readers to get on-the-spot feedback when they read. But most parents don’t have the time (or the relationship) to read with their children uninterrupted for 30 minutes each day. And most parents can’t afford $10,000 for tutoring. But kids love technology. And if Suri understands our kids on their iPhone, then I decided I could create software that could “understand” their reading. That was the beginning of Reading Buddy Software. The patented Fluency Scoring Radar™ listens to the child read, detects errors, and gives the child on-the-spot help. It’s like having a tutor in the computer.
Q: What else can you tell us about the process of creating Reading Buddy Software?
A: I created Reading Buddy Software with the both the parent and child in mind. For the parent, it’s economical, convenient, and, most importantly, it works. Most children who use Reading Buddy Software improve their fluency and comprehension by over 50% every 3 months. For the child, it’s fun and they get the 1-on-1 instruction they need.
Q: You said Reading Buddy is “convenient” for the parent. What do you mean?
A: It’s hard to get our kids to do what they’re supposed to do. It’s especially hard to get them to practice reading. And both the parent and the child hate the reminding and the nagging, which leads to tension and a souring of the parent-child relationship. Well, Reading Buddy Software eliminates the power struggle. Reading Buddy Software takes the parent out of the hot seat and does the tough work for them. All the parent has to do is go through Parent Set-Up and enter their child’s prizes. Then, Reading Buddy Software’s Point & Prize System takes over, motivating the child to read. The parent can login anytime and listen to their child’s readings (their all recorded), view data and charts that monitor word accuracy, fluency, comprehension, and time spent reading. So, you see, Reading Buddy Software is not only the child’s buddy, it’s the parent’s buddy too.
Q: How long does it take with Reading Buddy Software before you see a big difference in a child’s reading level?
A: Most children who follow the recommended protocol jump at least one grade level within 3 months.
Q: What do you mean “it’s fun” for the child? If a child hates to read, what makes you think they will use Reading Buddy Software?
A: Two reasons. First, kids love collecting points and winning the prizes. And second, they love the stories in Reading Buddy. A lot of kids who hated reading told us they loved using Reading Buddy Software.
Q: You mentioned you took training courses. Which ones?
A: For example, one of the courses I took was the Wilson Reading System, which is based on Orton-Gillingham.
Q: Can you share with us something about your personal life?
A: I live with my husband and my 5 beautiful children (including triplets!) in Baltimore, Maryland.