How Learning Ally Can Contribute to your Reading Program
Merriam-Webster defines a book to be a “set of printed sheets of paper held together inside a cover”. In today’s technological and modern age, this definition simply does not suffice. Books are now accessible in audio formats, allowing students to listen to the text to absorb the information. Learning Ally has been recording texts for students with disabilities since 1948. In the beginning, our organization was dedicated to recording texts for blinded veterans returning from World War II. Throughout the last 67 years, we have grown into the world’s largest collection of human-narrated audio textbooks and literature for students who are blind, visually impaired, or have a documented learning disability. Our collection is over 80,000 and continues to grow. These audio texts are used in classrooms every day across the country to provide an alternative, but viable option for students who struggle reading in the traditional way.
Reading instruction encompasses 5 components: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and reading comprehension. Learning Ally audiobooks give students with print and learning disabilities a tangible way to access texts without missing these 5 crucial components. Reading, much like learning, is accomplished differently. Educators across the country create lesson plans that fit various learning styles, whether they be visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or any other learning style we discover throughout the evolution of education. With this in mind, we must recognize that reading can be accomplished in different ways as well. We at Learning Ally recognize the 3 types of reading: eye, ear and finger reading. This is why we believe audiobooks can make a difference in your reading program for the students who need them. Here are some ways to include audiobooks into your reading instruction:
Create a reading center in your classroom: Audiobooks can be used in reading centers you create in the classroom. Teachers can have copies of books along with devices to play audiobooks for silent reading time, shared reading time, and group conversations.
Have all students in your class read the same book: Learning Ally audiobooks allow students who read below grade level to have access to grade-level text. When struggling readers are able to participate in grade-level tasks with other students, wonderful things can happen. They gain confidence, improve self-esteem, act out less in class, and become more excited to read.
Instill motivation to read: Random House Publishing reports that playing the first chapter of a book to students motivates the majority of them to continue reading the book on their own.
Help you reach your goals: Watching your students struggle in the classroom, can be very frustrating. Learning Ally opens up the world of reading for your students by giving them access to audiobooks. As one Learning Ally educator said, “Now that they have this tool, it no longer holds them back. They are part of the classroom. Their self-esteem has gone up. They’re feeling better about themselves. And as a teacher it makes you feel wonderful because you feel like you’re reaching your children.”
Reading with audiobooks shows students that they don’t have to always struggle to read. Reading should be pleasurable, not painful. According to Dr. Frank Serafini, a professor of literacy education and children’s literature at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, there is “no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” Dr. Serafini also gives us these additional ideas on how audiobooks can serve the classroom:
- supplementing teachers’ and parents’ ability to read to their children and students
- providing access to new vocabulary, a key to success in reading
- providing demonstrations of fluent reading
- providing readers access to books they are unable to read for themselves
- creating opportunities for discussing stories, in order to better comprehend them
- supporting struggling readers by helping them focus on meaning rather than the decoding of text
- inviting children to enter the magical world of literature
- fostering a love of literature and reading
Lyon, G. Reid (2002). The keys to literacy: Overview of reading and literacy research. Washington, D.C.: Council for Basic Education.
Serafini, F., & Giorgis, C. (2003). Reading aloud and beyond: Fostering the intellectual life with older readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.