Blogs About Reading

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.

Children's Book Week: Free El Deafo Bookmark! New Accessible Formats for Struggling Readers

May 4, 2016

Cece Bell El Deafo

Bravo to native Virginian Cece Bell, a Newbery Honor Book winner and 2015 Children's Choice Debut Author finalist who created and illustrated El Deafo. She has crafted the 2016 official and ready-to-download bookmark for the 97th annual Children's Book Week 2016 that runs from May 2-8.

Equally exciting, there are new accessible editions of her book just out. Having a choice of formats can build literacy among students who struggle to read traditional print. Even though the reduced text and visual cues in graphic novels increase access to books, some students with disabilities still need instructional supports. Now, they can have them.

Many ways to read

Why is this important? As students mature, parents and assigned adult readers should be fading from reading aloud the curriculum content. Students need to read on their own for schoolwork and for pleasure using accessible digital texts or braille or large print. The editions are free for eligible students with Individualized Education Program plans. Information follows at the end of this blog.

Super powers!

El Deafo is a part autobiographical book that is filled with good humor and an important message that we love at AIM-VA and at accessible educational materials programs like us across country. Fact is that technology and assistive technology can be an amazing "superpower." In Cece's case, the large clunky Phonic Ear listening device of long ago helped her to hear her teacher's voice in the classroom; but that is not all!

Imagine what happens when the teacher leaves on the listening device and Cece hears her teacher's voice in other locations in the school. First, there's a confession by her teacher to a colleague about an annoying child, and, then comes a "tinkle, tinkle, flush" from the bathroom.

“I have amazing abilities unknown to anyone!” Cece says, as she warns her classmates to stay out of trouble because she hears her teacher's plan to return to class. "El Deafo" notices her social isolation giving way to the friendships that she has wanted for so long.

New editions!

Now, in time for Children's Book Week 2016, El Deafo the book has potential for a larger than ever audience. New editions are a reality with accessibility features that aid both decoding and comprehending text. Initial instruction about the best format and accessibility tools to use eventually decreases a student's dependence on adult readers. Eligible students can work with one or more formats without cost. For example, a learner could choose the audiobook at school and then work at home with a "PDF Accessible" version with interactive text including highlighting and taking notes.

More resources

  1. Download and print the bookmark for Childen's Book Week 2016.
  2. See a cool video review of El Deafo on Cece's website. that was made by students in California.
  3. Watch this video interview with Cece Bell on Reading Rockets.
  4. Check out Children's Book Week 2016 resources for teachers and librarians, including social media.

Children's Book Week is administered by Every Child A Reader, a 501(c)(3) literacy organization dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. The Children's Book Council, the national non-profit trade association for children's book publishers, is an anchor sponsor.

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"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl