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A Kindergarten Teacher's Review of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Journeys

Updated on January 5, 2014

Dear Teachers,

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Journeys 2014 was released last year. Read my review on the series and how it implements the Common Core Standards.


Miss Megan :)


I will rate each of my categories with numerals 0-5. With 0 being unusable and 5 being a strong component to our reading curriculum and learning experience.

Ordering the Series

Ordering the series was a head ache for both our teachers and our administrators. Many products were backordered or missing. Students were missing textbooks and teachers were missing resources; it was a true mess. It took more than a semester to get all the materials we needed.Our school representative from Journeys was not helpful.

Ordering Rating: 0

Quality of Literature

One of Journeys strongest assets is it's quality of literature. The text is engaging. It is well liked by teachers AND students. The characters are relatable and interesting.

Quality of Literature Rating: 5

Quality of Non-Fiction Text

A vast majority of Journeys is Non-fiction, which is exactly what we wanted for our Common Core Reading Series. The non-fiction text is interesting and engaging. In addition, each topic is created around a non-fiction "essential question". For example one of our essential questions was "What do different animals do in different seasons?". The children love exploring the essential questions.

Quality of Non-Fiction Text Rating: 5

Teacher Friendliness

Some teachers may say Journeys is overwhelming. They are right, there is a great deal of content in Journeys. However, I find it to be very teacher friendly. The set-up is easy to use and I find that I can implement it into my classroom with ease.

Teacher Friendliness Rating: 5

Alphafriend "Andy Apple"
Alphafriend "Andy Apple"


Alphafriends are objects shaped like the letters of the alphabet. They are named with the same beginning letter as the beginning letter of the object. For example, Andy Apple.

Journeys comes with Alphafriend cards and an Alphafriend CD. Each alphafriend sings a song filled with words with it's beginning letter.

It sounds hokey and silly but the children LOVE the alphafriends. It is a cute and fun way to introduce phonemic awareness.

Alphafriend Rating: 5

Online Resources

The most common complaint from teachers at my school is the access to the online resources. Although it has a variety of great resources, the site often crashes. The teachers struggle to access the online resources that they want to use.

One day an online resource will work, and then when you go to use the resource with your students the resource won't load.

In addition, you need to purchase some of the online resources in addition to the bundle your school purchased. If you want the online leveled-readers, you need to pay an additional fee. These hidden fees are a frustration to our teachers and administration.

Online Component Rating: 1


Journeys is filled with many different types of assessment. There are unit assessments, benchmark assessments, observational assessments and online assessment. The unit test are very lengthy.

Our kindergarten classrooms have found success with the progress-monitoring tests. They are given to each child one-on-one weekly. Luckily, this year we have small classes sizes so we are able to do this.

Assessment Rating: 4

Common Core Standards

I was part of our school's reading adoption team. I piloted 3 different reading curriculums (National Geographic, Pearson's Reading Street, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Journeys).

Our team found Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to be the most aligned with the common core standards. It requires children to use higher ordered thinking. Journeys is very challenging for the students. We found some of the other reading series to be "watered down".

Common Core Standards Rating: 5


My absolute favorite part about Journeys is their level-readers and level reading group lesson plans :). Like many other series there is an ELL, Above Level, Below Level, and On Level tier.

However, what sets this series apart from others is its connections between the levels. For each topic ALL leveled readers (ELL, AL, BL, and OL) have the SAME reading strategy, reading skill, sight words, genre, and coincide with the essential question for the week. We were so thrilled to find a series that meets the Common Core State standards for all of our learners.

Journeys comes with many additional resources to help teacher differentiate in their classroom.

Differentiation Rating: 5


Overall, I very much enjoy Journeys. There are going to be missing gaps in every reading curriculum out there. I use Journeys as a guide and supplement the missing gaps with my own materials. I find Journeys be the strongest reading series available at this time.

Overall Rating of Series

5 stars for Journeys 2014


Please ask me any questions you might have about Journeys in the comment section. Also feel free to share your own experiences.


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    • profile image


      13 months ago

      Hi Megan I am using the program at my school however the teacher unit books were not purchase, how can I by them? I ve tried their site but it is very overwhelming.

    • profile image


      2 years ago


      My daughter is entering kindergarten next year and her school is using the Journeys reading program. Can you please tell me if the program is centered mostly around phonics or whole language? Did this program help any of your struggling readers? What is built into the program that informs parents about their child's reading level? Thanks for your time.


    • profile image

      Merry Carol 

      3 years ago

      Miss Megan,

      How are sight words introduced to kindergarteners? I have seen teachers give 80 sight words to parents at kindergarten orientation. They are told to practice these over the summer.

    • Miss-Megan profile imageAUTHOR

      Miss Megan 

      3 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Ohlfsk, I teach a mini-lesson that I pull from teacher's manual. This usually lasts 15-20 minutes. Our school uses the Daily Five model so after our mini-lesson the children have a hands-on activity from one of our Daily Five choices :). I have a unique situation where I teach phonics/phonemic awareness and my co-teacher teaches comprehension and text analysis. So I teach 1/2 of our kindergarten students for 45 minutes at a time, and she takes the other half and then we switch. This makes up our 90 minute reading block.

    • profile image


      3 years ago


      Can you give me an example of your daily schedule using this curriculum? Thanks!

    • Miss-Megan profile imageAUTHOR

      Miss Megan 

      4 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is continually updating their online resources. They are getting out the bugs and it is easier to use technically. Our school bought a package of the curriculum so the online resources were included in the price. I'm sure you could purchase it if you were not a school but it is very pricy. The online resources are geared towards classroom material. What are you thinking of using it for?

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi, Thanks for this information! I am very interested in Journeys. Especially, online resource! You mean that it is still uncomfortable to use technically ? and do we have to pay for on-line resources? is it only allowed fo schools? if I am not a school teacher, is it hard to use the on-line resources? Thanks for your answer in advance!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hi,Miss Megan. Thank you for your kindness.I want to use Journeys to teach Chinese kids. But since we are just an after-school learning center, so we are not able to give out so many lessons every week. We only have 3-4h per week t0 teach the kids.After searching these books, I find out that they have so many excellent materials, but I just don't know where to start...However, I do know that we want to help them to learn phonics first, because we will set up a reading program. Chinese students learn English words by reciting the vocabulary, so phonics can be good for them.

      Thank you again for being a helping hand~~~


    • Miss-Megan profile imageAUTHOR

      Miss Megan 

      5 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Hi Cfromsky! I would love to answer any questions you have about Journeys :). Do you have an in particular that I could answer?

    • profile image


      5 years ago


      I am really interested in Journeys and I want to use it in China. Can you tell me more about this series ?

      Thank you!!!

      ps:my e-mail is


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