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Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

Wimpy Kid Author Jeff Kinney Has Advice for Kids About "Ear Reading"

March 11, 2016

Super author Jeff Kinney, best known for his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and the Wimpy Kid movies, does not have dyslexia, nor do his children, but he champions reading audiobooks! In fact, he personally only reads audiobooks as an alternative to traditional print.

Listening to audiobooks is reading, says Kinney. This view refutes claims by some to the contrary. In the video clip that follows he talks more about that and offers other insights about the benefits for all of this book format.

Kinney and another reknown author Robert Beatty, (Serafina and The Black Cloak), participated in separate Learning Ally webinars in connection with the nonprofit company's Great Reading Games competition that ended on Read Across America Day, the annual birthday celebration of Dr. Seuss. Selected participants from ten winning schools appeared in the webinar where they asked Kinney questions.

My takeaways

The #GRG16, as it was called on social media, was strictly for Learning Ally members. All students have print disabilities that are documented by their educational teams. However, their successes here could generalize to many other literacy events for children and youth. Here are my takeaways:

  • Some 4,500 students in nearly 300 schools who read 1.3 million pages in just under 7 weeks show that a reading competition where audiobooks are an accepted format is a proven strategy to include students who have print disabilities.
  • Students who struggle to read traditional books, including those with dyslexia, learning disabilities, physical and visual impairments or others, do not have to be left out of book clubs and literacy events, a measure that can lead to poor self esteem.
  • Students with disabilities when given the chance to develop literacy, build vocabulary, keep pace with their peers in this way also can extend book and media literacy learning by being relevant parts of webinars, author studies, and sharing online.
  • Book services (especially free ones) offering built-in learning support options trump online or downloaded inaccessible digital books that lack accessibility features such as highlighting or reading aloud as well as data collection features that teachers can use to inform instruction and report on literacy for parents.

Why Learning Ally?

Learning Ally provides eligible students with access at no cost to an online library of more than 82,000 human-narrated books. Offerings include textbooks, non-fiction and literature. Readers can download chosen books directly to computers, tablets, smartphones, iPods and other devices so that reading can happen in the classroom, at home or on the go.

The winners

We congratulate the top 10 schools, honorable mention winners, and all who participated in the 2nd Annual Great Reading Games. Winning schools received prizes, including Chromebooks, gift cards, headphones and student prize packs.

The skinny on audiobooks

Hear Jeff Kinney's views on audiobooks, literacy, and more:

Resources

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"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald