Book review: Secret Code Actions™ – Parent Edition


When my copy of Secret Code Actions™ — Parent Edition arrived, it barely fit into my mail box. That’s a good thing. At 370 pages, it’s wonderful weightiness is matched by the depth and breadth of its content — it is the ultimate guide to understanding and deciphering the English alphabetic “code.”

Nancy Young is the author. She has a Master’s degree in special education, and is a reading, spelling and writing specialist who consults with teachers and families across Canada. She is a mother, an avid reader and a tireless advocate for children and adults with dyslexia — and that’s what inspired her to write this book. Her credentials are too long to list here, so check out her bio.

So, how does it work? It you’re looking for a step-by-step reading program, this isn’t it. Rather, this is a comprehensive resource that demystifies “the code” for parents and kids alike:

“It is a resource created to empower parents who want to develop or bolster their child’s reading and spelling skills in fun, yet reliable, ways at home.”

What’s inside? The book is made up of a series of exercises to help you identify, pronounce and spell every phenome (there are 43 of them in Canada — who knew?) in the English language. As I learned in the book, this skill is called “phonemic awareness” and it’s difficult for most dyslexics to do. It comes with explicit instructions, helpful tips, fascinating facts, and a fantastic glossary at the end. You can see samples from the book at Nancy’s website.

Thankfully, Nancy has managed to do all this in plain language, with clean, simple layout and lots of white space. Dean Stanton’s illustrations help make each exercise fun and easy to follow. Who can resist Weird Keith? We had fun doing this activity!


We have it set up on our book stand in the dining room next to our Oxford dictionary. We open it up randomly and try different exercises. It also comes in handy when you need help decoding a specific word. And it sparks some interesting dinner time conversation!


My daughter says: “it’s the ultimate dictionary.”

I say: “it’s an empowering tool to help you decode the English language.”

Secret Code Actions™ is $49.00, and purchasing it gives you access to online parent resources, which Nancy is continually adding to. Find out how to purchase.

Next post: Nancy answers questions about the structured literacy approach, her new book, who it’s intended for, and how to use it.

Obligatory disclosure: I received this book for free from the author without any obligation to write a review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I was not paid for writing this review. I am not a reading expert, and all opinions expressed here are based on my personal experience and are not offered as advice.

Images of the book are reprinted with the author’s permission. Photo credit:


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