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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.

Library of Congress: "Accessible" Books by DiCamillo, Patterson, Scieszka: Pure Joy for Dyslexic, Other Struggling Readers

May 6, 2015

Lucky guests can set aside "author studies" today, May 6. They will learn about literacy from the masters when the authors of Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales (Jon Scieszka), The Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson), and Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Kate DiCamillo) convene at the Library of Congress (LOC) for an event that is open to the public and sure to be crowded. 

Premier Event

This is a premier children's literature event. The LOC National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature, as they are called, are set to come together for the Joseph Solkoff Eskin Memorial Lecture. This gives Jon Scieszka, Kathleen Paterson, and Kate DiCamillo, the former and current ambassadors, a chance to  share their views about literacy. All will honor the memory, books, and writing of a fourth national ambassador, Walter Dean Myers, who died in July 2014. His son, Christopher, is attending.

Happily for students who have a print disability and their families, books written by these authors are converted to a format that creates access to the text so the books can be enjoyed. Learning Ally, an AIM-VA partner, identified the five most popular of books by each author. Theses are audiobooks read by a human reader, and most come with built-in learning suppports. The titles are listed below; and they are provided at no cost to eligible students as part of an accessible educational materials (AEM) program under the Individuals with DIsabilities Education Act (IDEA) and an exception to copyright law. 

Teachers order the books for their eligible students and create a rich library for them. The top books by the LOC Ambassadors that were requested during the last two-year period are: 

  • Jon Scieszka (2008-09 term): 1. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, 2. Marco? Polo! 3. 2095 4. Knights of the Kitchen Table 5. Knucklehead 
  • Katherine Paterson (2010-11 term): 1. Bridge to Terabithia 2. Lyddie 3. The Great Gilly Hopkins 4. Come Sing, Jimmy Jo 5. The Master Puppeteer
  • Walter Dean Myers (2012-2013): 1. Monster 2. The Greatest: Muhammad Ali 3. Fallen Angels 4. Sunrise over Fallujah 5. Game
  • Kate DiCamillo (2014-15 term): 1.Because of Winn-Dixie 2. The Tale of Despereaux 3. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane 4. Flora and Ulysses5. The Tiger Rising 

Youth Literature

The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature initiative raises national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature for lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people. It started in 2008 with co-sponsorships by Every Child a Reader (ECAR), the Children’s Book Council (CBC), and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The LOC names ambassadors for two-year periods. Financial support for the National Ambassador program is provided by:

  • Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Scholastic Inc.
  • The Lois Lenski Covey Foundation
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • HarperCollins Children’s Books
  • Random House Children’s Books
  •  Candlewick Press


The AEM program operates in every state for students who are found eligible during their Individualized Education Program plan. This designation gives them free accessible versions of their curriculum materials at no cost. Audiobooks, braille, and PDFs are among the alternatives that teachers can select and provide. For more information in Virginia, go to the AIM-VA homepage. In other states, ask a special education teacher or school administrator about accessible learning materials under IDEA. 

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

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"Reading is not optional." —

Walter Dean Myers