Literacy Leadership Blog

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Kids Become Empowered Readers When Given Access to Grade-Level Text

Categories: Assistive Technology, Audiobook Library, Curriculum & Access, Education & Teaching, Reading Strategies for K-12, Student Centric Learning

By: Marlene Moyer – English and Social Studies Teacher, South Tahoe Middle School, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Peer interaction plays a huge role in our ability to fit into the “norm” at school and feel good about ourselves as learners. When we are learning and feeling proud of our accomplishments, we create positive connections socially and emotionally with our peers. Conversely, if we struggle to read and rarely understand what we are trying to learn, we suffer the consequences of negative social and emotional feelings. If a child who struggles to read does not demonstrate improvement when direct reading instruction is at its pinnacle in 3rd and 4th grades, the probability of being behind grade-level and lacking self-confidence follows that child their entire life.

Struggling to Read is Traumatic

As a seasoned English and Social Studies teacher, I have deep empathy for kids who “try and fail” repeatedly. This failure turns into a nagging stigma and heartache for the student, their teachers and their families. Even sadder is that many struggling readers have above average intelligence; they just don’t know how to harness it. This type of trauma is avoidable.

Years ago, I decided that no more students who struggled to read were going to “try and fail. The solution I found was accessible education materials and human-read audiobooks from Learning Ally.  This resource made an incredible difference in my class instruction, my students’ skill level and in their social and emotional health.

Giving students equitable access opened their world and an opportunity for self-reflection. Students who had never thought of themselves as learners began to speak up. Their self-doubt changed to positive self-identity. They showed vast improvements in reading and began to talk about the books they read with peers. They made huge strides in their social connections. The transformation was nothing short of incredible.

Conversing is Learning

In my classes, I have a fair amount of reading assignments and discussions. With Learning Ally’s audiobooks, struggling readers got into the groove of listening and conversing right away and I saw positive changes. It was a real game changer! Students wanted to self-select their own books in the digital library. They selected books on and above their grade-level. They led book discussions and small reading group activities.  Seeing students who were once emotionally shut down and labeled as “low readers,” now interacting with peers, one could not argue the impact on my students’ emotional well-being and the change it made for all of my students.   

“Look at Me” Class Discussions

Audiobooks enabled me to raise up every struggling reader to say, “Look at me reading, Mrs. Moyer.” What a wonderful phrase… “Look at me reading!” In all of my 16 years of teaching, Learning Ally’s Audiobook Solution is the ONLY thing that has made a significant difference to so many kids. Not only are they improving their reading skills, their IDENTITY as readers has solidified. These kids FEEL like readers now. Nothing else I’ve tried has done so much good for them academically, socially and emotionally.

A reading accommodation and access to digital content was the solution to get more students who struggle to read – reading. They experienced reading growth. They felt dignified. These positive results and emotions are powerful and I could not be prouder or more grateful for Learning Ally.

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.

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