The National Reading Strategy (NRS) was introduced in 2008 in primary schools in response to the alarmingly low levels of reading ability in South Africa. The main goal of this strategy was to improve the reading competence of all learners; however, many educators had an under-developed understanding of teaching reading. The educators were faced with major challenges in implementing the NRS as they were left to interpret the document on their own in the absence of adequate training. This study investigated the implementation of the NRS by educators of grade 3 learners. Grounded within a social constructivist paradigm and underpinned by Vygotsky's theory of the zone of proximal development, this study used a mixed methods approach to gather qualitative and quantitative data from grade 3 foundation phase educators and learners. Analyses of data revealed that those schools that implemented the NRS effectively and in accordance with national directives, obtained higher mean Total Reading Scores. Findings accentuated that the NRS was not effectively implemented due to multifarious factors within the schools.