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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.

8 Literacy Ideas on How to Use Learning Ally Audiobooks to Deter a Summer Slide

May 20, 2015

Summer reading can be painful when decoding problems and/or a slow reading rate means a child or teen will struggle to read traditional books in print. Instead, reading accessible book formats can turn the experience into something exciting—reading for pleasure.

Alternative Formats

Audiobooks, especially those that have built-in learning supports that some learners need, help to develop literacy skills, maintain gains during the school year, and deter an academic slide.

To capitalize on this potential, Learning Ally on May 1 started the "Summer Reading Together " program. Readers with Learning Ally accounts their, families, teachers, and friends are invited to participate. While reading eventually could be its own reward, this initiative provides incentives so that all read and:

  • Are entered automatically to win mobile reading devices
  • Get daily affirmations on reading progress
  • Receive a certificate of achievement

Get Literacy Underway

Literacy blossoms when families, teachers, and friends read the same books and listen to the lineup of author webinars, Learning Ally advises. For tracking the books read, participants can download and keep a calendar. Experience shows that developing a record of progress builds confidence and a youngster's sense of being prepared for the next school year.

Here some other suggestions from Learning Ally so that family and friends by participating can help struggling youngsters build a reading habit over the summer:

  1. Get 20 minutes of reading in a day.
  2. Listen to audiobooks during snack time.
  3. Listen in the car on the way to school, grocery store, soccer practice, dance class, or a friend’s house.
  4. Share a favorite book with a parent, guardian, brother or sister, or good friend.
  5. Keep an iPod, smartphone or Android device beside the bed and read a few minutes before going to sleep.
  6. Read audiobooks while waiting at a restaurant, dentist, or a doctor’s visit. 
  7. Read audiobooks during independent reading time at school.
  8. Create a family reading night once a week. Listen to audiobooks together, have discussions, talk about characters, and jot down summaries for the books that they family has read. 

A child's user name and password supplied by the teacher can get summer reading underway. If not, call a Learning Ally member specialist at (800) 221-4792 or log in at

More Resources

Check out these Learning Ally Resources:


What? No Learning Ally account? A student with a print disability has free access to audiobooks and a year-round personal account to Learning Ally or another provider of audiobooks, Bookshare. This service happens when the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team considers and selects accessible learning materials on the IEP planning document. Teachers can load the student's account with books for the summer break. The selections can consist of  "required reading," pleasure reading by choice, or both.

Learning Ally provides audiobooks with a human narrator. Unlike listen-only audiobooks, many of their books come with VoiceText. This feature offers text that is highlighted as the narrator reads. The exposure to listening while reading builds skills including comprehension, decoding, and vocabulary. Audiobooks and other alternatives to print are provided to eligible students as a no-cost service for schools by the U.S. Department of Education through education departments in every state and the District of Columbia. Students with physical and vision difficulties also participate. 

For information in Virginia, log on to the AIM-VA homepage. In other states, ask a special education teacher or school administrator about accessible educational materials under the Invididuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and an exception to federal copyright law.

Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.

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"Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them." —

Arnold Lobel