Flying Start Books 

Flying Start Books believe literacy is the key to success in life and are passionate about giving children a flying start by launching them into literacy. Their Red Rocket Readers series is an award-winning reading program developed by New Zealand reading specialist and author Pam Holden. It offers more than 600 illustrated fiction and photographic non-fiction titles at graded levels, perfect for guided reading, Reading Recovery, ESL, ELL and other special needs applications. First published in 2003, Red Rocket Readers are now available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.


Red Rocket Readers is an award-winning comprehensive series of 600 leveled reading books. Offering a carefully controlled sequence of challenges throughout the levels, Red Rocket Readers ensures that students progress with confidence and enthusiasm. Each of the titles provides an entertaining informational topic or fictional storyline to engage students, with both artistic and photographic types of illustrations. Together, Red Rocket Readers provide a unique programme of support for guided reading, shared and small group reading, Reading Recovery, ESL, ELL and other special needs applications.

Red Rocket Readers are child-focussed and are carefully designed to support children through the use of controlled natural language and appropriately sized, well-spaced and easy-to-read type. Colourful, entertaining illustrations support the text in each title, launching oral discussion and aiding student comprehension. Strong characters and the classic story structure (tension, climax and resolution) ensures children will want to engage with the texts.

Red Rocket Readers:

  • enable students to read for enjoyment and information as they access meaning from text.
  • feature meaningful concepts and experiences that children can relate to.
  • develop word recognition along with language development.
  • focus on increasing knowledge of print conventions, phonological patterns and phonic knowledge in context.
  • develop and ensure the success of reading strategies.

Each Red Rocket Reader comes with a set of useful tools for teachers including a “teacher talk” section with a brief introduction, overview, and suggestions for group discussions. Also included is a teaching plan that details the reading strategies being promoted in the text, flash cards, a glossary, and an activity. Comprehensive lesson plans and worksheets are available for download and running records for 340+ titles can also be downloaded from Flying Start Books.

A selection of 32 bestselling Red Rocket Readers are now available in te reo Māori, forming the starting line up of Flying Start Books’ te reo Māori library. Rather than simple translation, each title has been lovingly and carefully retold by Tiare Dickson, reworking and rewriting as needed to ensure an authentic adaptation. The new series is ideal for Māori-speaking students learning to read with guided reading or small group instruction, as well as for young readers first exploring te reo Māori. Teacher lesson preparation tools and downloadable resources are all available in te reo Māori as well, offering support for bilingual and immersion classrooms. Ebook editions are available with each title.

A selection of 16 Red Rocket Readers has been skillfully adapted into Spanish by experienced early reading specialist, Annette Torres Elias. Designed to support both Spanish-speaking ELL students and young readers first exploring Spanish, they feature the use of controlled natural language, reinforced by high-impact photographs and bright, entertaining illustrations. Ebook editions are available with each title.

Featured authors

Pam Holden

Series consultant and author of the Red Rocket Readers series, Pam Holden has more than 30 years specialist experience in literacy. As a Reading Recovery teacher, she has worked one-to-one with hundreds of children struggling with literacy. Pam’s pupils have also included those approaching English as a second language, and children who are advanced and require extension. This experience has given Pam a rare insight into the literacy process and has enabled her to identify many key elements that consistently block children’s progress, and develop leveled texts specifically for guided reading, Reading Recovery and other interventions.

Tiare Dickson

Born and raised in Tauranga Moana, Tiare Dickson is a multi-medium artist who uses taa moko, painting, woodwork and digital art to express his creativity and culture. He holds a Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts and a Masters of Professional Creative Practice and has worked as a teacher aide at immersion secondary schools. Tiare is the grandson of Red Rocket Readers series creator, Pam Holden, and the inspiration for Charlie, a popular character in Pam’s stories that are often based on true events. As well as creating the te reo Māori series of Red Rocket Readers, Tiare is also an illustrator for some Red Rocket titles.

Existing international relationships

Flying Start Books offers an innovative sales channel as a wholesale distributor for other New Zealand publishers who are seeking entry to the highly competitive US K-12 market. Currently, Flying Start Books distributes the Joy Cowley Club in Canada and the USA, and the StoryWorld series in the USA.



Sarah Ensor
Publisher, Flying Start Books