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.

Look Up in the Sky and Get Ready for a Lunar Eclipse

May 13, 2022 by Learning Ally


On Sunday, May 15 and Monday, May 16, a lunar eclipse will occur. This astronomical phenomenon occursImage result for what is a lunar eclipse when the sun, Earth, and moon line up properly for the moon to pass into the Earth's shadow. Roughly three times a year, the moon passes through at least part of the Earth's shadow. 

Because our moon's orbit is tilted, lunar eclipses do not occur every time the moon makes its monthly trek around our planet. It can only happen during a full moon, so we are likely to experience it just twice a year. 

To catch a glimpse of the lunar eclipse and "blood moon," you'll have to stay awake late into the night and early morning. The term "blood moon" is used by many astronomy experts and writers to describe the rusty orange or reddish color glow the moon becomes from the light reflecting from the sun.

Learning Ally has many enjoyable and informative audiobooks about the sky, the sun, astronomy, and our universe. Search on a specific category or use keywords to find titles that will interest learners of any age in our Browse Audiobooks section. 

For additional resources, PBS has excellent videos to demonstrate the mechanics of lunar eclipses to view and engage students with visualizations that show the alignment of the Moon, the Sun, and Earth from multiple perspectives.

Happy sky watching!

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Audiobooks Celebrating Chinese Culture
Making Friends with Billy Wong Audiobook

January 31, 2022 by Jhara Navalo

In honor of Chinese New Year, we have selected some engaging audiobooks from our diverse libraries in support of the Asian American experience.. Suggest these titles to your children and then engage them in conversation regarding what they learned and liked about the books they read.

Queen Of Physics : How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock The Secrets Of The Atom

This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the "Queen of Physics" for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.

Making Friends With Billy Wong

by Augusta Scattergood
Middle School: Grades 5-7

Making Friends With Billy Wong

Billy's great-aunt and uncle own the Lucky Foods grocery store, where days are long and some folks aren't friendly. For Azalea, whose family and experiences seem different from most everybody she knows, friendship has never been easy. Maybe this time, it will be.

The Downstairs Girl

by Stacey Lee
Middle School: Grades 7+

The Downstairs Girl

Seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady's maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, "Dear Miss Sweetie." When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society's ills, but she's not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.

American Born Chinese

by Gene Luen Yang
High School: Grades 9-12

American Born Chinese

A tour-de-force by rising indy comics star Gene Yang, American Born Chinesetells the story of three apparently unrelated characters lives and stories come together with an unexpected twistin this action-packed modern fable.

Water Tossing Boulders : How A Family Of Chinese Immigrants Led The First Fight To Desegregate Schools In The Jim Crow South

The girls were Chinese American and considered by the school to be "colored"; the school was for whites. This event would lead to the first US Supreme Court case to challenge the constitutionality of racial segregation in Southern public schools, an astonishing thirty years before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. Unearthing one of the greatest stories never told, journalist Adrienne Berard recounts how three unlikely heroes sought to shape a new South.

About Learning Ally

Learning Ally's reading accommodation and audiobooks will help you level the learning field for students with reading deficits. Use the library to ensure that all students receive equitable access to grade-level text on their intellectual level, as well as to popular books and genres that interest them. Learn more about membership or if you are a school representative sign up for a demo to experience the satisfaction of seeing your emerging and early learners, as well as older students, improve their foundational reading skills, learning confidence, and academic potential.

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Black History Month Recommended Reads
Arturo Schomburg

January 28, 2022 by Jhara Navalo

Through years of struggle, strife and resilience Black Americans have been at the forefront of changing laws, policies, and perspectives relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Check out our Learning Ally blog including a list of good reads.. This is a great opportunity to sit with your child, get immersed in American history and facilitate family conversations regarding past and current civil rights issues.

Alvin Ailey

by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Elementary School: Grades 0-3 

Alvin Ailey Audiobook

A portrait of the great African-American dancer and choreographer describes Alvin Ailey's early life, his growth as a dancer, and his creation of his own critically acclaimed dance company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, in 1958.

Hidden Figures

by Margot Lee Shetterly
Elementary School: Grades 0-3

Hidden Figures

Based on a true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math... really good. They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America's first journeys into space.

Whoosh! : Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream Of Inventions

by Chris Barton
Elementary School: Grades 2-5

Whoosh! : Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream Of Inventions

Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

Who Was Harriet Tubman?

by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Middle School: Grades 5-7

Who Was Harriet Tubman?

It was from other field hands that she first heard about the Underground Railroad which she travelled by herself north to Philadelphia. Throughout her long life (she died at the age of ninety-two) and long after the Civil War brought an end to slavery, this amazing woman was proof of what just one person can do.

Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library

by Carol Boston Weatherford
Middle School: Grades 5-7

Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library

Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro-Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk's life's passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages.

Facing Frederick : The Life Of Frederick Douglass, A Monumental American Man

Facing Frederick captures the whole complicated, and at times perplexing, person that he was. Statesman, suffragist, writer, and newspaperman, this book focuses on Douglass the man rather than the historical icon.

X : A Novel

by Ilyasah Shabazz
High School: Grades 9+

X : A Novel

X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.

About Learning Ally

Learning Ally's reading accommodation and audiobooks will help you level the learning field for students with reading deficits. Use the library to ensure that all students receive equitable access to grade-level text on their intellectual level, as well as to popular books and genres that interest them. Learn more about membership or if you are a school representative sign up for a demo to experience the satisfaction of seeing your emerging and early learners, as well as older students, improve their foundational reading skills, learning confidence, and academic potential.

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Audiobooks: Turn Passive Screen Time to Active Learning
Child Reading Audiobooks with Father

January 27, 2022 by Jhara Navalo

Prying your child's fingers from their tablet can be frustrating, but there is an alternative to passive screen time – human-read audiobooks. When you become a new member of Learning Ally, you can download engaging age-appropriate audiobooks for your child to listen and learn with their eyes, ears, and minds.

Build Fundamental Reading Skills

Reading with audiobooks spark interests, build memory mass, and prepare children to learn these fundamental reading skills:

  • Improving listening skills and two-way engagement
  • Strengthening comprehension skills by paying mindfulness and context
  • Boosting vocabulary and phonics
  • Building background knowledge
  • Learning English

Heightening imagination and visualization skills

A study by The National Institutes of Health in 2018 found that children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests. Some children staring at a screen for more than seven hours a day experienced thinning of the brain's cortex, the area of the brain related to critical thinking and reasoning. This study, and similar findings, give us pause, especially in the pandemic when we are cooped up and looking for alternatives.

Audiobooks Are The Educational Answer to Passive Screen Time

Audiobooks are especially beneficial for children who are emergent and reluctant readers, and those with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. You can pause and discuss a story, identify vocabulary words and their definitions, reward your child for learning novel words and answering comprehension questions. You can act out scenes and character roles, an activity your whole family will enjoy. In this article, we offer five award-winning books for the purpose of exciting children to read.

Dr. Jennifer F. Cross, attending pediatrician and a developmental and behavioral pediatrics expert at New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital, says, “If young children spend most of their time engaging with an iPad, smartphone, or television, it can be hard to get them engaged in other activities to foster imagination and creativity, like exploring outdoors, and playing with other children to develop social skills. Children who watch a lot of television during the early years perform less well on reading tests and may show deficits in attention.”

Learning Ally audiobooks can enrich reading engagement. They are unique in that subject experts, skilled voice artists, and volunteers narrate the stories to make them come to life, versus the drone of a computerized voice. You might be interested to know that when a child reads for twenty minutes a day or twenty or more times with consistency, it is proven that they will develop a pattern of reading frequency likely to increase their reading level.

Sign up for Learning Ally!

Eligible members of Learning Ally can browse the audiobook library by grade, Lexile Level, subject, topic, category, or curriculum and access more than 80,000 "human-narrated" audiobooks that children need for school and can read for pleasure. Find culturally-relevant titles that enrich your child's own identity.

New members use code HOME99 and receive $36 off your first year of membership.

There is no time like the present to become a member and introduce your child to the world of audiobooks to open their eyes, ears, and minds to the wonderful world of reading.

Start today!


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Reading Champion: Michele Chisholm
Michele Chisholm

January 25, 2022 by Jhara Navalo

Reading specialist Michele Chisholm sits down with us and shares why she recommends Learning Ally to all of her clients.

I am honored to be involved with Learning Ally. It is a wonderful program that has helped many children, including the ones that I work with. My journey began with my own child, when he was diagnosed with dyslexia nine years ago. I have an elementary education background but didn't learn about dyslexia in college. My youngest child struggled to learn how to read and so I began to teach him using the Barton Reading and Spelling System. Although he became quite a good reader, it took many years.

Throughout that time, he wanted to read books that his peers were reading. So, we began using Learning Ally. This is an incredible program that allows children access to all of the same books that their peers are enjoying. It was wonderful for him to be able to immerse himself in a book while "reading with his ears". I reminded him that although he was not reading in a traditional way, it was still reading. He was building his vocabulary and improving his comprehension and he was able to be involved in the conversations his peers were having about books that were too hard for him to read in a traditional way.

Currently, I own a tutoring business, Beautiful Mind Tutoring in Salt Lake City, UT. I have nine amazing tutors who work with me! We teach math and writing, but our main areas of focus are reading and spelling. I meet with every student before assigning them to a tutor. At that initial meeting, I always encourage parents to join Learning Ally as a way to improve their child's experience with reading. In fact, the student’s eyes always light up when I tell them that for the first couple months of tutoring, we ONLY want them reading with their ears by listening to audio books. I have found that this is a wonderful way to help the children learn to love books again!

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