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Young Readers' Series

Open to: Grades 2 - 3 and Grades 4 - 6 [Older students should consider courses in the Young Adult Readers' Series for Grades 7-9].
Prerequisites: Students with qualifying verbal scores are eligible to enroll in all courses for which they meet the grade prerequisites;
Students with qualifying verbal and/or math scores are eligible to enroll in Wild Things, Robot Encounters, The Right Stuff, and In Search Of as long as they meet the grade prerequisites. Note: While students enrolled in these four courses are not required to be verbal qualifiers, they must be proficient readers and writers of English to gain value from the course. Optional, free, self-graded readiness assessments are available as links on the course description pages.

Format: Web-based
Challenge Level for Grades 2 & 3 Courses5th Grade and above. 
Challenge Level for Grades 4 - 6 Courses: Middle School and above
Materials Purchase Required: Check course descriptions for details about books to purchase
Session Based: Session Dates and Application Deadlines
Length: 10 weeks (Fall, Early Spring, Mid Spring), 12 weeks 12 weeks (Early Summer), or 5 weeks (Intensive Midsummer)

Young Readers logoThe Young Readers' Series is designed to enhance a student's critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. Developed for enrichment, course assignments meet or surpass the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading. As students participate in written discussion forums, they make inferences, determine motivations, evaluate arguments, and provide textual evidence to support their opinions. Creative writing assignments encourage students to take on different points of view, summarize details, compare authors, and discuss central ideas. In several courses, students work with both fiction and nonfiction material. Books entice gifted students to go beyond simple comprehension and engage in higher level thinking about issues ranging from the ethics of time travel to the dangers of subliminal advertising. Robot Encounters, Wild Things, In Search Of, and The Right Stuff also include short related videos and encourage students to create multimedia content using web 2.0 tools such as VoiceThread and other online slideshows, bulletin boards, and more.

There are separate courses for grades 2 and 3 students reading at a 5th grade level and above and for grades 4-6 students reading at a middle school level and above. [Older students should view the courses in the Young Adult Readers' Series for Grades 7-9.]

In all Young Readers' Series courses, students:

  • Read three or four thematically connected, age-appropriate books of increasing difficulty
  • Participate in online written discussions with gifted classmates from Boston to Beijing
  • Post creative writing assignments such as dialogues, newspaper articles, stories, limericks, and talk shows with characters as guests
  • Learn sophisticated vocabulary words and literary devices with the help of online games and puzzles
  • Receive individualized written feedback from their instructor about each lesson's work

Parents Ask...

  • Students typically read and share written responses every other day (fall, spring, and early summer sessions) or daily (midsummer intensive session).
  • Work is posted in the virtual classrooms at the student’s convenience as long as each lesson's deadlines are met.
  • It does not matter whether a student has already read one or all of the books before the course begins because the emphasis on citing the text requires careful re-reading.
  • Students must already be proficient in Standard Written English. [Instructors in critical reading courses discuss grammar only when it affects meaning.]

Parents are encouraged to review the books before deciding on the course that would be most interesting and appropriate for their child. For more details about a particular course, visit the individual course description linked below.

Read Comments and Feedback from Students, Parents, and Teachers

Visit the Humanities FAQ.

Current Courses for Young Readers' Series for Gr. 2 and 3:

For verbal and/or math qualifiers: 
Wild Things
Robot Encounters

For verbal qualifiers:
Good Dogs,
Dragon Tales,
Mystery Stories

Current Courses for Young Readers' Series for Gr. 4 - 6:

For verbal and/or math qualifiers:
The Right Stuff (Nonfiction)
In Search Of

For verbal qualifiers:
Ancient Egypt Rediscovered (Nonfiction and Fiction
Greek Myths Revisited
Magical Life Lessons
Quest and Challenges

Time Required:

This course requires approximately three hours for each of the ten lessons. Students should expect to spend:

  • approximately 3 hours per week during the fall, early spring, mid spring, and early summer sessions
  • approximately 6 hours per week during the 5 week intensive midsummer session

Note: Students do not have to meet in the classroom at the same time. A student's written work can be posted in the virtual classroom at the student's convenience as long as deadlines are met.

About Summer Sessions:

The Young Readers' Series offers both a 12-week summer session that allows families to take a week or two of vacation and an intensive 5-week session. Both sessions cover the same course material and assignments.

While the 12-week early summer session courses allow for 2 weeks total vacation, students in the Young Readers’ courses are encouraged to work ahead or make up their work to try to keep up with their classmates whenever possible. Experience has shown that these courses are most fun when all students are working on the same lesson. Students must notify the instructor at the course's start about any planned vacation dates and must meet scheduled due dates when they are not on vacation. [Students who make up their work can finish their early summer course in 10 weeks.]

Due to the intensity of the 5-week intensive midsummer sessions, students should not take any vacation break or attend all day camps while participating in the midsummer courses. 

If you have any questions, please contact us before applying at

System Requirements:

  • CTY Online Programs courses require a properly-maintained computer with Internet access and a recent-version web browser (such as Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer) with the Adobe Flash plugin.
  • Students are expected to be familiar with standard computer operations (e.g. login, cut & paste, email attachments, etc).
  • Spam blockers, parental controls, and other internet filtering software must allow email from JHU ( &, and from the instructor's email address (provided at start of course).
  • Since this course uses a web-based classroom for assignments and group discussion, your browser will need to allow cookies, javascript, and popup windows from the classroom web site.