K-12 | Read to Achieve


Welcome to Learning Ally’s blog. You've come to the right place if you are an innovative teacher who wants to transform more struggling readers into grade-level achievers.

2018 Lone Star Reading List
student reading with tablet

March 1, 2019 by Jenny Falke

Learning Ally is thrilled to provide in our human-read audiobook library this list of highly renowned titles curated by school and public librarians. This list was created with students in middle grades in mind, but many other age levels, besides just teens, will enjoy them! The following are just a handful of the books completed from the 2018 list of titles.

The Unbeatable Squirrel GirlThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World
by Dean Hale
Grades 3-7 | 700L

Fourteen-year-old Doreen Green must start at a new school, make new friends, and continue to hide her tail. Yep, Doreen has the powers of ... a squirrel!

Piecing Me TogetherPiecing Me Together
by Renee Watson
Grades 7+ | 680L

Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she's ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And she has.

by Garth Nix
Grade 7+ | 840L

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother's new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss.

Between Two SkiesBetween Two Skies
by Joanne O'Sullivan
Grades 7+ | HL650L

Hurricane Katrina sets a teenage girl adrift. But a new life -- and the promise of love -- emerges in this rich, highly readable debut.


Beanstalker and Other Hilarious ScarytalesBeanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales
by Kiersten White
Grades 3-7 | 630L

Once upon a time, a girl skipped into the forest and became a zombie. Wait, no, that's not how this story is supposed to go. Let's try again. Once upon a time ...

More books from the 2018 List:

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Warcross by Marie Lu
Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson
Well, That Was Akward by Rachel Vail
Short by Holly Goldberg
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Four-Four-Two by Dean Hughes
Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks
Impyrium by Henry Neff
The Inquisitor's Tale ... by Adam Gidwitz
Heartless by Melissa Meyer

The Lone Star Reading List is curated by school and public librarians who are part of the Young Adult Round Table in the Texas Library Association and the 2018, 2017 and 2016 titles are made available to Learning Ally readers through the generous support of the Reading Resource Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas.

Bring Learning Ally's Audiobook Solution to Your School

Learning Ally is a cost-effective solution to help your students who read below grade level boost their vocabulary, comprehension and test scores. Our extensive library of human-read audiobooks includes core content, is easy to set up, and fits into your existing curriculum.

Learn how you can transform the lives of your struggling readers. Sign up for a demo, call 800-221-1098, or email programs@LearningAlly.org.

Public and charter Texas schools, visit: LearningAlly.org/Texas.

Read More about 2018 Lone Star Reading List

Winning Schools Announced in 2019 Great Reading Games, Learning Ally’s National Reading Event

February 26, 2019 by Valerie Chernek

For Immediate Release                                                                                    

Media Contact Valerie Chernek                               

Winning Schools Announced in 2019 Great Reading Games,

Learning Ally’s National Reading Event


February 26, 2019 - Princeton, NJ - Learning Ally has announced the winners of the 2019 Great Reading Games, adding the latest chapter to an inspiring story. 

The New Jersey-based educational solutions organization, whose mission is to empower students with learning differences to succeed in the classroom and beyond, initiated the Great Reading Games four years ago as a way to motivate and engage struggling readers, and has seen it grow in size and scope every year since.

“The Great Reading Games is a fun, competitive way to promote reading nationwide,” says Terrie Noland, VP of Educator Initiatives at Learning Ally. “This event gets everybody going, especially struggling readers. Our data shows that students who participate read twice as much and three times as often.”

The goal of the event is to get students reading with frequency, which Learning Ally defines as reading for twenty minutes a day for thirty-three days, a critical tipping point shown to lead to improved academic and social-emotional outcomes.

This year, more than 37,000 students from 1,600 schools competed in the Great Reading Games, and they read a record-breaking 12 million pages during the seven-week event.  Top student performers win Chromebooks, headphones and gift cards. Teachers win prizes and recognition for their schools.

Here are the first-place winners:

  • Academy at Nola Dunn – TX
  • Barton Middle School – TX
  • Cameron Elementary School – VA
  • Canales Elementary School – TX
  • Ector Prep Success Academy – TX
  • Goodnight Junior High School – TX
  • Holy Family School – NY
  • Little Elm High School – TX
  • Mt. Zion Christian Academy – FL
  • Rafael Cantu Jr High School – TX
  • Spring Valley School - AL
  • West Belmar Elementary School – NJ

To view a complete list of winners, visit LearningAlly.org/GreatReadingGames

“We want to thank everyone who participated in this year’s Great Reading Games,” said Noland. “Congratulations to the students for beating last year’s record, and congratulations to their teachers for working tirelessly to support their students and instill in them a passion for reading and learning.”

The Great Reading Games takes place in January and February to coincide with the National Education Association’s Read Across America event. To celebrate this year’s participants and reading in general, Learning Ally will host a livestream webinar with Kwame Alexander, an American poet and best-selling author on Friday, March 1, 2019 at 11:00 am EST.


About Learning Ally

Learning Ally is a leading education solutions organization dedicated to transforming the lives of struggling learners. Our proven Audiobook Solution includes high-quality, human-read audiobooks that align to schools’ curriculum in grades 3-12 and a suite of educator resources to help students who struggle to read due to learning differences succeed in school and beyond. Today, Learning Ally is successfully used in more than 16,000 schools nationwide. To learn more about our solution, visit LearningAlly.org.


















Read More about Winning Schools Announced in 2019 Great Reading Games, Learning Ally’s National Reading Event

Five Reasons to Share Your Class’ Great Reading Games Success
Great Reading Games gold balloons, G, R, G, 18

February 25, 2019 by Jenny Falke

Schools across the country will celebrate their participation in the Great Reading Games (GRG) over the next few months. Why? Because students have been reading more pages than ever before during this national reading event that celebrates and recognizes struggling readers for building strong reading habits. Here are the top five reasons to party with balloons, pizza and cupcakes, invite parents, students and other educators, and share your class’ Great Reading Games Success.

#5. School board members can feel involved in your class’ accomplishments.

Send a note to the school board to invite them and other school leaders to join your celebration. Consider inviting one who is passionate about reading to speak at the GRG celebration to the importance of reading and the students’ commitment to completing the challenge

#4. Other educators will understand the power of human-read audiobooks to support struggling readers.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Learning Ally is a multi-sensory reading accommodation designed to help students with reading deficits bridge the gap between their reading ability and cognitive capability. Have a school-wide assembly to let other educators see the growth and excitement of your struggling readers as they blossom into successful readers. They will see first-hand the positive impact human-read audiobooks have had on your students.

#3. Keep parents aware of reading initiatives.

Parental or adult support is so important in the success of students. Help parents stay informed about reading initiatives in your classroom and school by inviting them to a Great Reading Games celebration. Have students design an invitation to take home to encourage parents to attend.

#2. Establish a culture of personalized learning to meet the needs of students.

Each student learns in a different way and has varying needs for support on their educational journey. Learning Ally’s human-read audiobooks and the Great Reading Games allows educators to personalize instruction by giving struggling readers access to grade-level content  and helps students become engaged learners. Celebrating participation in the Games helps encourage a culture of supporting students varying needs. During your celebration, speak to the power of Learning Ally’s human-read audiobooks in how they met the needs of your struggling readers.

Students receiving Great Reading Game award

#1. Encourage positive experiences with reading and learning in all students.

Students who struggle to read normally do not enjoy reading for class assignments or reading for pleasure. Many times they have had negative experiences with reading and it has impacted their social-emotional well-being. Learning Ally’s human-read audiobooks enable struggling readers to successfully read the required text for class and have the content knowledge to participate in class. Students start to develop an appreciation for reading and will start to read books their peers are reading as well. Pass out certificates of participation and special prizes for each student who completed a reading milestone.

Need a Learning Ally school subscription to get in the games?

Join a demo or learn more about Learning Ally's audiobook solution that turns struggling readers into grade-level achievers. Call 800-221-1098 or email programs@LearningAlly.org.

Read More about Five Reasons to Share Your Class’ Great Reading Games Success

11 Commonly Talked About Topics to Break the Cycle of Reading Failure for Students with Learning Differences

February 21, 2019 by Valerie Chernek

Nearly two thousand U.S. educators responded to Learning Ally’s 2018 annual survey about their challenges working with one of the most vulnerable student populations – students who struggle to read.

On our survey, nine out of ten educators said they believe Learning Ally audiobooks enable students to better comprehend grade level text, keep academic pace, read independently and build stronger reading habits.

Additionally,educators stated these priorities for 2019:

  • Provide a balanced literacy approach for students who need extra reading support through reading instruction and access to information in digital format to reduce barriers to reading, such as decoding skills.
  • Develop skills in studying and organizing and improving executive function.
  • Increase reading independence by motivating students to read daily.
  • Encourage students to overcome negative attitudes towards themselves as learners.

Reading – The Top Priority for Our Nation’s Schools

Students who do not read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out. The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, revealed that only 36 percent of eighth graders and 37 percent of high school students read at a level of proficient or above. These statistics, coupled with the fact that one in five students has dyslexia, indicate an alarming number of students in our nation’s schools are underperforming.

Without early intervention and solutions to address reading barriers, children with learning differences who enter school as bright and curious learners will fail to meet expectations. Older students, who never receive the reading support they require to succeed academically, will lack confidence and face years of uncertainty.

Most-Talked-About Topics in 2018

Breaking the cycle of reading failure for students with learning differences is a critical goal for educators at all levels. The question is how. Here are some of the topics that dominated the conversation in 2018.

1. Learned Helplessness

Tracy Block-Zaretsky of the Dyslexia Training Institute help us to identify symptoms of dyslexia that may show up later in a child’s learning process because they have been masked. Some well-meaning caregivers and teachers may also be pitching in a little too much.

2. Digital-Accessible Books

Schools are broadening their efforts to offer digital-accessible books to accommodate students with learning disabilities. Kristin Longmuir features lists of popular books and recommended reading by grade-level curriculum and Lexile level to save teachers time and schools money.

3. Multi-Tiered Learning Approach

Penny Moldofsky, Director of the Literacy Institute for Woodlynde School in PA, recommends a multi-tiered learning approach to ensure grade-level access to reading materials and to help students make mental movies of text, so they spend less time figuring out words and more time enjoying reading.

4. Cognitive vs. Decoding Skills – “Automaticity”

Terrie Noland explores Cognitive Load Theory and the neuroscience of how struggling readers’ brains work, explaining how they must execute lower-level reading processes such as decoding with “automaticity” before they can master higher-level comprehension skills.

5. Multisensory Reading

Dyslexia specialist Dana Blackaby describes the effective use of assistive technology to create multisensory reading experiences (seeing text and hearing it read aloud). Along with an explicit structured literacy approach, she has used this strategy to turn struggling readers into grade-level achievers.

6. Personalized Learning Improves Social and Emotional Skills

Most educators agree it is very important to give students the freedom to choose books that match their interests, hopes and dreams and the time to read grade-level material, not just leveled readers. We also know that students who enjoy reading feel more empowered to learn.

7. Science of Reading Engagement

Learning Ally CEO Andrew Friedman discusses his views on shaping the future of “reading to learn” using data, science and automation. He also emphasizes the importance of personalized learning to focus on not only academics but social and emotional behavior as well.

8. Diverse Literature

Diverse literature reflects and honors the lives of young people and helps them to mirror their own experiences. Teachers use these type of stories that are “curiously written” to help more children and teens discover their identities and feel more valued and included.

9. Growth Mindset

No student wants to look or feel different. In this Think Inclusive article, learn why psychologist, Carol Dweck, advises teachers and parents to reinforce that all children can learn with the right encouragement and resources.

10. Applied Behavior Management Intervention

Terrence Gordon knows about diversity and bullying. He discusses his experiences working with kids of all backgrounds and the many behavioral issues that may apply to struggling learners – "a broken family," "living in poverty," walking through "run-down neighborhoods," and “not being able to read well.”

11. Reading Accommodation

Audiobooks, read by skilled voice artists, enable struggling readers to improve skills in prosody, the melodic flow of reading and phonemic awareness and the ability to hear explicit sounds of letters and letter patterns that form words. Human-read stories are far more engaging. They help students make meaning of information, teach them to pronounce words correctly and improve their vocabulary, comprehension and critical thinking skills.

To learn how your school or district can transform more struggling readers into grade-level achievers, schedule a quick demo or call 800-221-1098.

Read More about 11 Commonly Talked About Topics to Break the Cycle of Reading Failure for Students with Learning Differences

Learning Ally’s Reading App Keeps Getting Better

February 11, 2019 by Valerie Chernek

by Cher Ware, Classroom Integration Manager

In an effort to continuously improve, Learning Ally’s reading app has new features to support struggling readers. These features will allow students to personalize their reading experience, improve comprehension, and demonstrate understanding while reading grade-level content.

 Are You Still Reading?

There are times when a student might forget to pause an audiobook while reading and could miss important events within a story. “Are you still reading?” is a prompt that is triggered at one hour into audio playback if there has been no interaction with the app and will remind students to stop the audio if they are done. With the prompt from the app, students will be able to accomplish their reading goals and educators will know that students are participating in their reading.


screen capture from Learning Ally's mobile app

Visual Bookmark Indicator

As students engage with text, they are able to place bookmarks to mark information much as a student would do with a post-it while reading. When a bookmark is placed, the quote will be underlined to indicate where it is within the text. By tapping on the underline, students are able to quickly access, add or edit a corresponding note.

Elementary School Educators: Developing inference skills is the foundation to higher-level thinking. As students read a text, the visual bookmark indicator can be used to identify clues that give insight to the characters or events in a story. Students are then able to refer back to their bookmarks when making inferences during group discussions or when writing.

screen capture of reading appscreen capture of reading app


Middle/High School Educators: Citing evidence within the text is crucial when students participate in discourse or complete writing assignments. The visual bookmark indicator can be used by students to cite evidence with the text as they read. Students are also able to send bookmarks and notes to the teacher to show work and demonstrate understanding.



User Selected Level Navigation

All students have different learning styles and needs. Students are now able to customize their learning experience in the Learning Ally reading app by selecting the navigation level for the previous and next buttons. Students can pick to navigate to a:

  • Heading - useful when a student is reading non-fiction and looking for a specific section of text

  • Page (current default setting) - student is reading text for enjoyment or for an assignment

  • Paragraph - when a student is looking for a specific sentence to support an idea it is helpful to be able to move paragraph by paragraph through a text

  • Sentence - sometimes a student may read a sentence and want to go back and reread to check for understanding. Navigating by sentence allows the student to easily move back and forth sentence by sentence.

To learn how your school or district can transform more struggling readers into grade-level achievers, schedule a quick demo or call 800-221-1098. 
Be sure to check out Learning Ally's Browse Audiobooks page for featured titles to jumpstart students' reading independence.
Read More about Learning Ally’s Reading App Keeps Getting Better