Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement


Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.

5 Ways "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" Helps Struggling Readers!
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by Jules Johnson "You learn any way you can. My kid didn't want to read -- I got him into reading the same way I got into reading, through comic books. Now, my kid, who didn't want to read, is reading all of the Diary of the Wimpy Kid books!" Those words were spoken by Max Brooks, author of World War Z, when he keynoted Learning Ally's acclaimed Spotlight on Dyslexia online conference earlier this month. Max is dyslexic, and he knows how to reach struggling readers. He's candid in describing his own struggles to read (and admits that he still prefers audiobooks) -- yet somehow he went on to become a best-selling author.pic How did he do it? He had an extremely supportive mother, a quality tutor/teacher, and accommodations. All of those are important. However, Max reminded us that "reading is a discipline - you have to do more of it to get better at it." If you're picking books that are too hard, it won't be fun. It won't be enjoyable. And your student may eventually mutter those dreaded words:  "I hate reading!"  So how do we turn this around? By providing kids with the types of books they can get excited to read! Here are five reasons you may want to try Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or similar books, with your struggling readers:

5. They're Not Overwhelming

My son, a 9 year old who has severe dyslexia, will open up a book like Harry Potter and close it right back. The words are too small. There's too much text. And that, to him, looks exhausting! Researchers believe children with dyslexia picactually work five times harder to decode text, so it's important to not tire them out before they even begin. Books like Wimpy Kid have text that is broken up. This gives students plenty of breaks to rest their brain, and let their eyes fall on fun pictures. I'm not saying novels (like Harry Potter) aren't good books for kids who struggle to read, but many may choose the audio version instead of traditional reading. And that's okay!


4. A Great Start to Multi-Sensory Reading

Ear reading refers to using audiobooks and other text-to-speech technology to allow students to develop meaning from text through listening. Often, for students with dyslexia or other reading difficulties, this tactic is paired with LA-406_LReye reading. This creates a multi-sensory approach and allows a student to listen and follow along with the text at the same time – reinforcing the correct pronunciation of the words. Students who are just beginning to master this technique will need fun books to practice with and fun goals or rewards when they finish reading. One of my favorite things to do when I finish a book that I love is to find out more about the author. You can give your students a chance to “meet” Jeff Kinney through a webinar on March 2 or on demand. What better way to get your students excited about reading?!

3. Get students thinking critically

The “wimpy kid” finds himself in some pretty interesting social situations. Whether they happen at home, at school or with his friends, these events can help students begin to discern appropriate behavior. This is a great way to start a conversation about being empathetic to others feelings! Also, it helps students learn how to react in challenging situations. Get your students brainstorming about how to solve problems and be helpful, not harmful, when friends or family members are struggling.

2. Sense of Accomplishment

Have you seen how thick the Wimpy Kid books are? These books are picnot only easier to read, but they also *look* nice on a student's desk or in a back pack. They aren't baby books, and the content is much more age appropriate. These are books they can read in front of their friends without feeling like they need to hide them. And as they finish a book - bam! Their self-esteem and confidence sky-rocket!

1. They're fun!

With a band called "Loded Diper" [sic], Wimpy Kid may not be the most ... um ..."civilized." But, for kids, it's all about drawing them in with things that they find funny. If a student is giggling all the way through a book, there's a good chance he'll keep on reading (and even get excited about picking up the next book in the series!) Author Jeff Kinney (Wimpy Kid) recently said "I keep hearing from parents-especially parents of kids with Asperger's or dyslexia-who say these books were the breakthrough. It's very moving when parents come to me with tears in their eyes." 

Meet the Author and Possibly Win a Signed Copy!

jeffOn March 2nd, National Reading Day, Learning Ally is sponsoring a FREE  (donor supported) webinar with Diary of a Wimpy Kid author, Jeff Kinney! When: 11:00am EST / 8am PST on March 2nd Can I watch later? Yes! We'll send the recording to those who register. Where: Online - Register here Why: To celebrate our 2nd annual Great Reading Games! Book Club: Join us online here to chat Get the book: Download the Long Haul from Learning Ally's library today! Win: Someone who attends the webinar will win a signed copy of Jeff's new book titled Old School! click-here-to-register-button GRG Learning Ally's Great Reading Games encourages member schools have fun while boosting reading! We have great prizes this year including Chromebooks, gift cards and ear buds. The games run from January 11th - March 2nd, 2016. Only Learning Ally member schools participate, so call us at 800.221.1098 to talk to an education specialist about school membership.   Programs like the Great Reading Games and the webinar with Jeff Kinney are possible due to generous donations from people just like you! If you'd like to see more events like this from Learning Ally, help us with a donation today. Every dollar helps keep kids reading!

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