Is your student or child uninspired about reading? Are they reading below grade level or experiencing reading difficulties? You are not alone. Many teachers and parents struggle to excite students about reading and learning. For Erin O’Leary, a reading specialist at Horace Mann Middle School, the key to engaging student readers is to create positive, enjoyable experiences around reading.
Erin is one of the “Crazy Reading Ladies,” a dynamic duo of educators who use innovative reading programs like author visits and book buffets to get students reading. Their creativity and dedication have helped students with reading barriers, like dyslexia, and inspired schools around the nation to adopt similar programs.
How do the “Crazy Reading Ladies” do it? In this four-part video segment, Erin shares insights and reading programs that could help your child or students.
Part 1: Give Them Great Books
In Part 1, Erin speaks about keeping good books in the lives of students and giving them the time and space to read.
Part 2: Make Reading Easier with Tools
In Part 2, Erin shares her experience with tools like Bookshare and explains how audio-supported reading is just as valid and acceptable as any other reading method.
Part 3: Build Their Confidence
In Part 3, Erin shares a success story with her 8th grader and how she helped build confidence in his reading skills with the help of Bookshare.
Part 4: Make Reading Social and Fun
In Part 4, Erin describes how planning school-wide initiatives like author visits and book buffets can help turn reading into a social experience.
The Bookshare team thanks Erin for sharing her tips and expertise. Learn more about “The Crazy Reading Ladies.”
Bookshare is FREE for qualified U.S. students with reading barriers.
These resources from a recent webinar help educators add students, assign books, and find reading tools so students can start school strong.
What do you do if you have students with reading barriers like dyslexia and printed text doesn’t work for them? On September 5, Bookshare held a webinar for educators that answered that question: Beginning the School Year with Bookshare. If you missed it, here are the valuable resources:
- View the webinar recording on YouTube
- Download the webinar slides (PDF)
- Read the answers to attendees’ questions below
How do you see if a particular textbook is available?
You can search for books using the search box at the top of every page on the Bookshare website. For a more specific search, use Advanced Search.
How do students log in and access books?
Teachers can give students their own Bookshare logins by creating a username and password. Learn how to create student logins.
Where is the best place to start if you are inheriting Bookshare responsibilities and don’t know student usernames and passwords?
Log in to your account, select My Bookshare, and then select Membership. You will see the member roster and you can edit member information, including resetting passwords.
How does a student access an assigned reading list?
Students can log into Bookshare with their own username and password. They can select My Bookshare and then select My Reading Lists to view and read assigned books. Learn how students read assigned books.
When the AT department creates a district reading list for different grade levels, can sponsors assign students to that list?
If a Reading List is shared with an Organization (school or district), then all sponsors on the account can subscribe to the list and add student members. Learn how to use Reading Lists.
How do you remove books from a Reading List?
You can delete books from a Reading List by selecting the Reading List and then clicking on Remove in the Action column.
Can sponsors do all these things (as primary contacts), or do they have limited access?
Sponsors can perform all functions of a primary contact, except deleting multiple members at once.
Do English language learners (ELLs) qualify for Bookshare?
ELL status does not qualify a student for Bookshare; however, if an ELL student also has a qualifying print disability, he or she may join Bookshare. Learn more about qualifications.
How do you request a book? What is the turnaround time?
Go to the Help Center, select Request a Book, and then select Book Request Form. Book requests can take several months to be completed, depending upon the availability, length, and complexity of the book. We recommend submitting requests with this timing in mind. When you submit a request, a confirmation will be emailed to you. You can see the request status by going to My Bookshare and selecting My Requests. Learn more about book requests.
Does Bookshare work with a Kindle?
Compatible Bookshare apps are not available on Kindle; however, you can still read Bookshare books. Learn more about ebook readers.
Can you change the voice that is reading the book to you?
Voices are dependent upon the device and reading tool you are using. Most tools have an option to in the audio settings to select from available voices.
How do you go back to where you left off in a book?
As long as you are reading with the same application on the same device, applications like Bookshare Web Reader will pick up where you left off. Note that if you do not allow cookies, the application will not retain your last reading position.
Do you need to use certain web browsers to access Bookshare Web Reader?
For full functionality including highlighting and self-voicing, use the following browsers for Web Reader:
- Google Chrome version 33+
- Safari version 6.1+
- Chromebooks version 14+
- Coming soon: Microsoft Edge
How do you bookmark in Bookshare Web Reader?
You cannot bookmark in Bookshare Web Reader; however, when using the same device it will remember where you last exited the program. Compatible apps like Read&Write and Snap&Read can enhance your reading experience on Bookshare Web Reader. Visit the Reading Tool Wizard to learn more.
What is the best download file to get pictures along with the story on an iPad? Do any of the readers besides iBooks allow for pictures?
If you use iBooks, download the EPUB format. Voice Dream Reader also allows images (make sure to adjust settings to be in rich text mode). Note that not all books have images.
How do you add a student who already has an Individual Membership?
To link a student’s existing Individual Membership to your organizational account, visit our Help Center.
If students are changed from an Organizational Member to an Individual Member, is the organization responsible for books that students add on their own?
No. With an Individual Membership, students can search the entire Bookshare collection and read any books they choose. If the accounts are linked, educators can still assign books to students via Reading Lists. Learn how to set up an Individual Membership.
Be sure to visit the Help Center for more answers, training resources, how-to guides, and instructional videos.
Ryan is starting eighth grade at Swift Creek Middle School in Tallahassee, Florida. In first grade, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. Two years ago he became a Bookshare member and has read close to fifty books since then. In a recent interview, Ryan and his mother, Tippi, share their advice for students with reading barriers and the parents who support them.
Reading at Grade Level with Text-to-Speech Audiobooks
What was reading like before you started using Bookshare and audio narration?
RYAN: I couldn’t enjoy the level of books I wanted to read. While my reading level was only at 2nd–3rd grade, I wanted to read Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and more advanced books that all my friends were reading. Listening to audiobooks was the only way for me to enjoy those books.
Which reading tools and assistive technology devices do you use?
RYAN: I wear prescription glasses with a special yellow tint. I also use an iPad to have it read to me and help with handwriting issues.
Which features are especially helpful to make reading easier?
RYAN: I am an auditory learner, so listening to text-to-speech narration is always the most effective way for me to learn.
What kinds of books do you like to read? Any favorites?
RYAN: I enjoy science fiction, fantasy, adventure, and Greek mythology. In addition to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, some of my favorite series are the Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson and The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.
RYAN: Find a genre that you enjoy. Keep looking and try all types of books until you find what you like. Try audiobooks so you can read books above your reading level. Above all, “Never give up, never surrender!” (quote from the movie Galaxy Quest).
Mother Shares Tips on Advocating for Child with Dyslexia
What advice do you have for parents of students with dyslexia?
TIPPI: Keep saying dyslexia; don’t let teachers or specialists try to discount dyslexia as just “a reading or learning disorder.” Dyslexia has specific characteristics, learning styles, organization styles, and social issues. Continue to support and encourage your child. Don’t refer to your child in terms of his learning issue. His identity is not dyslexic. Instead, say, “he has dyslexia.”
Can you share any examples of “I wish I knew then what I know now”?
TIPPI: I wish someone had told us about Bookshare earlier and that using audiobooks is not a cop out. By listening to books Ryan enjoys, it has given him the confidence to try reading those books. He recognizes words in print because he has heard them being used through audiobooks. While reading print is important, don’t let educators discount the importance of listening.
You know your child and what he or she needs. We tried extra reading programs, summer programs, and tutoring. While children with dyslexia do need extra help, don’t forget that they are working twice as hard as everyone else. They need down time, a chance to be a kid, and plenty of fun. It is important to find the balance between pushing and relaxing.
“Keep saying dyslexia; don’t let teachers or specialists try to discount dyslexia as just a reading or learning disorder.”
What are some ways you work with teachers and administrators to advocate on Ryan’s behalf?
TIPPI: Once Ryan transitioned to middle school, we found it much easier to work with the teachers and administrators. Elementary school was difficult due to the emphasis on grade promotion and standardized testing, so we homeschooled him for third through fifth grade. Since Ryan had an existing IEP he was able to continue to receive reading help. We were concerned about going back to public school, but within the first nine weeks of sixth grade, we realized that Ryan was going to be able to handle it. The middle school staff is wonderful, and teachers continually suggest ways to make school easier for Ryan.
At the beginning of seventh grade Ryan got an iPad so he could type assignments. During IEP meetings Ryan and I discuss what may help, and his teachers and Exceptional Student Education (ESE) supervisor identify different things to try. Some suggestions work and some don’t, but the staff never gives up.
For example, Ryan is an auditory learner, so taking notes is difficult. While trying to write or type what is being said, Ryan will miss the entire lecture. We tried fill-in-the-blank notes, and while this helped, Ryan was still missing parts due to spelling and grammar issues. Now we get the worksheets ahead of time or have the PowerPoint notes printed for him. This way he can follow along in the notes but continue to listen which is how he learns best.
The Bookshare team thanks Ryan and Tippi for sharing their story.
Bookshare is FREE for qualified U.S. students with reading barriers.