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Halt the Erosion of Reading Engagement. Use Culturally-Relevant Titles to "Jolt" Curiosity

Categories: Curriculum & Access, Education & Teaching, Learning Ally “How-To Use”, Reading Strategies for K-12, Student Centric Learning, Teacher Best Practices, The Digital Age

Dr. Evan Ortlieb Reading engagement is an ongoing challenge for educators, but “All is not lost with reading engagement when students view literacy “as a means” to learn, communicate, and interact with peers”, says Dr. Evan Ortlieb. An internationally renowned scholar in literacy education with expertise in literacy teacher preparation, leveraging diversity as an asset in classrooms, and educational leadership. Dr. Ortlieb currently serves as Dean, Zucker Family School of Education at The Citadel. He is the President of Ortlieb Foundation, Inc., co-editor of Literacy Research and Instruction, area chair in the Literacy Research Association, and board member of the Specialized Literacy Professionals (SIG) of the International Literacy Association. He is the author of Attraction Theory: Revisiting How We Learn, a model to engage learners and published in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing. 

Culturally-Relevant Material

To halt the erosion of reading engagement, Dr. Ortlieb’s approach is to assign literature that is personal and relevant to each student’s interests so the content will jolt an emotional response to challenge their existing knowledge and agency. He encourages educators to focus on reengaging learners by using targeted emotional responses and multimodal media. This can include human-read audiobooks and video to stimulate their senses. “When students are excited to learn about a topic, we can jolt their inquisitive nature and help them produce higher proficiencies in learning.” 

Daily Reading Practice 

Teaching evidence-based reading instruction and using supportive resources, like audiobooks, to reinforce daily reading practice will ensure the academic success of more learners. Human-read audiobooks are proven to keep struggling readers engaged and curious. A perfect “jolt” story for children in grades 3-7 is The Templeton Twins, by Ellis Weiner. You can find it in the Learning Ally audiobook library with hundreds more culturally-relevant titles to interest every age, cultural backgrounds and grade-level requirement. To produce higher reading outcomes, Dr. Ortlieb recommends, “Giving students reading assignments that connect their lives to historical and current contexts through authentic reading activities.” This strategy is especially useful in engaging diverse learners to fully engage in positive literacy and learning experiences.  

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