The Building Essential Literacy (BEL) Research Project began in 1998 with the objective of studying and evaluating principles of early reading instruction. The BOOKSHOP Reading Program formed the core literacy resource in all classrooms. The project was initiated with 21 trial schools with a total of 2,400 students (K-2) and four control schools with a total of 1,247 students (K-2). Districts participating in the research were Boston, MA Public Schools, Elgin, IL School district; and Bronx, NY District 11. The average percent of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch was 85%. The composition of students in these schools represented a dominant minority population. At the beginning of the project 46% of the schools had less than 8% of their students performing on or above grade level as measured by state tests. The research data and experiences from this project informed the development of this edition of the BOOKSHOP reading program. The new BOOKSHOP was developed from a research effort to implement, evaluate and refine the instructional strategies, materials and learning experiences that are essential to improving literacy outcomes of K-3 students.