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How Audiobooks Helped Me Get My Struggling Readers to Read

Categories: Audiobook Library, Curriculum & Access, dyslexia, Education & Teaching, Learning Ally “How-To Use”, Teacher Best Practices, The Great Reading Games

By Alyssa Gray, Special Education Teacher, Robinson Middle School, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA 

Headshot of Alyssa Gray My seventh and eighth graders at Robinson Middle School in Fairfax County, VA are excited to participate in the 2019 Great Reading Games, a national audiobook event hosted by Learning Ally. This competition is wonderful because it helps me to motivate my reluctant readers and get them hooked on reading books – audiobooks that is. 

Several years ago, my district purchased the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution to ensure that students with print and learning disabilities had equitable access to digital contentincluding required textbooks, literature and popular titles. The district’s goal was to enhance students’ ability to read grade-level text and have opportunities to access age-appropriate books based on their interests.

The Great Reading Games is a fun, engaging way to inspire struggling readers. I like the seven-week challenge because it helps me jumpstart my students’ reading mindset each year and the prep work is done for me. My students rarely enjoy reading, but they love to win prizes! They also love to watch the digital leaderboard on Learning Ally tally up the number of books and pages they have read. As they watch their numbers go up, they are elated. Many neighboring schools in Fairfax County also participate in the Games, which helps our schools build a culture of readers throughout the district.

Pique Students’ Interests

Screen shot of Alyssa's digital shelf of book covers and video trailers on You-TubeI know that my incoming students who cannot easily read printed books will comprehend more of the information they read with audiobooks. One strategy I use is to print a list of titles for them to rate by watching book trailers on YouTube. They love the opportunity to self-select books in Learning Ally’s digital library. Parents are thankful too, because they don’t have to purchase physical books. As the Games proceed, my students are extra-motivated to read at home to compete for gift cards and prize packs. Teachers can win too. Last year, I won a Chromebook for my social media posts about how my students built stronger reading habits.

The Power of Reading Practice

You can never underestimate the power of reading practice. At the beginning of every school year, students who qualify for Learning Ally receive an account. This resource is easy to justify because it supports students who require more reading support.  I use it every day in rotating reading stations so that students have silent reading time. My rule is to read for 20 minutes a day during the school week.

Audiobooks Enhance Learning

As students listen to audiobooks, they follow highlighted words without distraction. This frees up their minds from painstakingly decoding words, enabling them to read more fluently.

My ESOL and special education students especially benefit because they can hear English spoken properly through skilled human narration that strengthens word recognition, vocabulary and prosody.

Learning Ally’s reading app makes it easy for students to take notes for research and book report citations. The app has all the classroom tools built in so that students can create vocabulary lists and set their reading preferences. This is a definite advantage for students who have a difficult time completing reading assignments.  

Students with headphones sitting at their computers reading a book. Learning Ally's human-narrated audiobooks and powerful teacher resources are a great resource for teachers, students and our schools. The proven reading accommodation helps us to provide access to grade-level curriculum to build students’ reading skills, foster reading enjoyment, encourage independent reading, and to help more students build a foundation for learning. It can help you make a big difference in the learning experience and lives of your students who struggle to read. 

Many thanks to Ms. Gray for sharing her best teaching practices in the Great Reading Games. 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.