The Government is set to roll out 2.4 million copies of new phonics-based reading material to the nation's schools in an bid to arrest our declining literacy rates.
But the move has sparked a war of words between academic experts who disagree whether it's the best way to teach kids to read.
One fears the move is simply an "educational fad" and warns there's "no magic bullet".
Phonics is the way sounds are represented by letters in an alphabetic language such as English.
Children have always learned phonics, but in the past 50 years the emphasis has been on encouraging them to read through interesting books rather than phonics drills and decoding words.
Theresa Kinloch, who has been trialling a new set of phonics-based "decodable readers", says the new method is a "million times better than what we had before" and regrets it came too late to teach her own daughter, who is dyslexic.
But others, like Louise Dempsey, co-author of The Reading Book, worries that focusing on teaching reading using decodable texts is another education "fad" and "feels like we are going back into the 1950s with Janet and John.
"There is no quick fix out there," she said.
The 64 new phonics-based books teach reading in a "structured" way - introducing a few new sounds and letters in each book at first, then gradually adding more words and more complex sentences.
For almost 60 years, New Zealand schools have taught children to read using a set of "Ready-to-Read" reading books that were colour-coded for their vocabulary and complexity, but not designed to teach specific sounds or letters.
Since 1970, when New Zealand 14-year-olds were placed first-equal out of 15 countries in reading comprehension, it's been a downhill slide in subsequent surveys. The International Reading Literacy Study for 9-year-olds placed New Zealand 15th out of 18th placed in 2016.
Ministry of Education researchers say other English-speaking countries- many with better literacy ratings than New Zealand - place a greater emphasis on, or in some cases new approaches to, teaching phonics.
After researching the way reading is taught in New Zealand schools, the ministry issued a tender in June 2019 for a new set of "Ready-to-Read" books "to complement and make more explicit the progression of phonemic (sound) awareness and phonics (letter sound) components of effective literacy instruction".
The first 40 books are ready and more than 2.4 million will be distributed to all state and state integrated schools this year.
The ministry says it will publish 64 books and plans to print 38,000 copies of each.
To some, like Kinloch, the change is inspiring.
"All of my children see themselves as readers," she says. "They know they have strategies to decode words, they are not looking around panicked.
"This approach is essential for some but harmful for none," she said.
Auckland University Associate Professor Rebecca Jesson, a trustee of the Marie Clay Literacy Trust, is impressed by the new books' storylines. But she is not convinced they will work for all children.
She described the phonics as a "back to basics" approach.
"There will be children for whom it absolutely is what they need. There will be children who will get tangled.
"[The best teaching] is noticing what is going on for the child, rather than fitting the child into a package," she warned.
Dempsey agreed, saying: "Many 'at risk' readers in the senior primary years can easily decode the words in texts - their challenge is understanding the words and ideas."
When Julie Clothier found out her daughter was struggling to learn to read, she discovered how challenging the education system is when dealing with dyslexia.
After getting her daughter tested for dyslexia she went down the route of paying $60 a session once a week using an evidence-based approach that included phonics to learn to read.
Her daughter is now 8, reads fluently and is working on her spelling.
"The answer to New Zealand's declining literacy rates isn't to tinker around the edges, it's to change the way in which reading is taught," Clothier said.