The year was 1991. The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 3,000 for the first time. Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston were battling for the top spot on the pop charts. The Soviet Union was dissolving, and the Cold War was over. The future was bright, and anything was possible.

Candyce Ihnot had recently completed her master’s degree in special education and was having great success supporting her struggling readers with her new instructional strategy. She had combined teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring into a single system that showed incredible promise. Her students were making measurable gains and developing newfound confidence as learners.

Together with her husband, Tom Ihnot, Read Naturally was founded. They recorded the audio cassettes and assembled packets of blackline masters in the basement. They contacted local educators and made their first sale to the Minneapolis Public Schools in the summer of 1991. In short order, Candyce was presenting her strategy at educational conferences nationwide and teachers across the country were adopting her approach.

Over the next three decades, the company and curriculum would grow and evolve in ways unimaginable at the time. Cassette tapes became compact discs in 1990s, the Read Naturally Software Edition was created in the early 2000’s, Read Live was born in 2011, and in just the past year Word Warm-ups Live, One Minute Reader Live, and Read Naturally Live—Español were added to the online platform. It has been an incredible journey from a small home-based mom-and-pop shop to a leading educational technology provider.

The Read Naturally Strategy has helped millions of striving readers develop literacy skills and find success in school and life. It has been an honor and privilege to partner with so many incredible educators in their mission to better support learners. We are constantly impressed and delighted by the amazing letters and testimonials from teachers, students, and parents detailing their success. These achievements belong to the students and teachers, but we are humbled to have played a supporting role in their accomplishments.

After 30 years, it is important to pause and reflect on the journey. We have come a very long way, but the work continues and is more important than ever. Our mission goes on, and we look forward to many more years supporting professional educators and helping striving readers reach their goals.