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Brave Means Learning How To Defy The Odds

2016 July 26
Rosdom and his family

Rosdom and his family

Our son, Rosdom, is very smart and brave. We recognized these characteristics early in his childhood, but we also saw some unusual behavior that held clues that he would not grow up as a typical child.

In preschool, specialists told us that Rosdom would not be able to read, write, or function socially. This information led to many exhausting nights and conversations with teachers, researchers, scientists, and parents who live with similar circumstances. We worried about his education and future. We explored learning environments, resources, and strategies to support children with multiple disabilities. We found Bookshare and assistive technologies.

Accessible Ebooks and Technology with Text-to-Speech Help Rosdom to Excel Academically

In third grade, with a diagnosis of dyslexia and autism, Rosdom was placed in special education. He was given an Individual Education Program (IEP) with reading accommodations. This included an individual membership to Bookshare which enabled him to receive educational materials in digital accessible format and read them with assistive technology devices.

I must thank the reading tutors and a teacher’s aide who learned about Bookshare and text-to-speech. This capability empowered our son to quickly distill information at and above his grade level with his sharp comprehension and recall skills. Through text-to-speech he could reread and relisten to information through highlighted words on screen accompanied by audio. His comprehension soared! By fourth grade, Rosdom did all his own coursework independently, including assignments in literature and history, two of his favorite subjects, in addition to mathematics.

Rosdom receiving a Presidential Award at eighth grade graduation. This award is given to students with As in all classes for all three years.

Rosdom receiving a Presidential Award at eighth grade graduation. This award is given to students with As in all classes for all three years.

By ninth grade, he took honors classes and received high grades. His ACT scores placed him in the upper 25% to attend a top-ranking college and he now speaks of attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We also just learned that an essay he wrote on To Kill a Mockingbird was chosen as a finalist in the Facing History and Ourselves contest at his school. This is a wonderful accomplishment for a child with neurotypical issues.

Today, I’m Brave Campaign – Rosdom’s Social Skills

On the social side, our son is now a brand ambassador for the Today, I’m Brave campaign, a heart-centered, socially-driven experiment that celebrates people performing brave acts every day. He has many friends. He studies Japanese and talks of becoming a writer, living in Japan, and working in the gaming industry. He loves to read Shakespeare and manga, a form of Japanese comic books, which he finds in Bookshare.

Our journey has not been easy. Over many years, Rosdom recognized his challenges and fought to not be different. Through the Today, I’m Brave campaign, he wants kids to know that you don’t just succeed with sheer luck, but with support and high expectations from parents and teachers, and with praise and access to resources, like Bookshare and technologies. To parents like us, we say, “Do not give up hope. Your child, like our son, now eighteen, can be destined to accomplish great things.”

Rosdom holding a card that says, "Today I’m Brave"

Rosdom holding a card that says, “Today I’m Brave”

A Note from Rosdom Kaligian  

I produced the Today, I’m Brave video because I want more kids to know that while dyslexia is a pest, it is not a death sentence and does not have to define who you are. You can still excel in school and life.

To readers of this blog, I want you to know that I am smart and determined. I would like to hear more teachers and parents say to people, like me, who are different, “Wow, you had a lot of obstacles in your path, but you found ways to get beyond them and truly excel.” It would be great to hear these words of praise more often!

P.S. Today, Rosdom’s video has more than 13,561 views!

Special thanks to Barbara-Seda Aghamianz and Rosdom Kaligian for sharing their personal journey.

Sign Up for Bookshare Now… Before Back to School Begins!

Bookshare is the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people who cannot read printed books due to blindness, low vision, dyslexia, and other print disabilities.

Through Bookshare’s extensive collection of educational and popular titles, including K-12 textbooks, specialized book formats, and reading tools, the online library offers individuals who cannot read standard print materials the same ease of access that people without disabilities enjoy.

We encourage all parents of children with print disabilities to learn more about Bookshare and sign up for an individual membership. In addition, let your child’s teachers know about Bookshare so they can sign up the school for an organizational membership. Both memberships are free for qualified U.S. students and schools.

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Reading Takes Discipline and My Fear of the Written Word Is Gone

2016 July 19
by Bookshare Guest
Davis Graham at his work desk surrounded by computer screens and tech devices.

Davis Graham at his work desk surrounded by computer screens and tech devices.

People will tell you that I like to consume information, but that was not always the case. For most of my life, I struggled with reading so badly I never thought I would be scholarly or have a successful career, but my fear of the printed word is no longer present. Once I discovered accessible books with reading technologies, my life changed. Bookshare is one of the resources that gave me a competitive edge.

Today, in my fifties, I will graduate from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, with a Master of Science in Health and Medical Informatics. The faculty will honor me as the student marshal for my class. This prestigious recognition is given to a student who goes beyond coursework to help their community. I tutor children with dyslexia and teach them about assistive technology. I talk with their parents about Bookshare.

I only wish the online accessible library had existed and my family had known about it when I was a child. If not for my parents, a few teachers, and my faith, I would not have the courage to write about myself today.

Dyslexia – Years of Hidden Pain

I know a thing or two about this learning disability. My childhood was filled with difficult memories. At eight years old, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I read slowly and poorly with almost no comprehension. It was frightening and debilitating. It raged a storm inside of me that almost knocked me down. I was suspended in school for bad behavior. I built up walls and pushed people away. I felt unworthy.

Some research studies suggest a correlation between depression and people with learning disabilities. People may show signs of withdrawal, aggression, poor self-concept, and unsatisfactory peer relations.

To parents and teachers, I say explore accessible resources and accommodations for your children. Try listening to words read aloud through digital accessible books and seeing them highlighted on a screen. This capability enables me to comprehend more content. I am able to keep pace in the learning process and be measured by my abilities rather than my lack of literacy skills.

Book Cover of The Preacher and the Presidents - Billy Graham in the White House, Nancy Gibbs and Michael DuffyMy First Accessible Book

I remember downloading my first book from Bookshare in 2007, The Preacher and the Presidents, a story of Reverend Billy Graham by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. In the book, Graham is reading, The World is Flat by Thomas Freidman. This was the second book I read.

Since that time, I have read hundreds of accessible ebooks, of all types, from novels and scientific health journals to religion, academia, and career development. My Bookshare membership allows me to take full advantage of the online library’s vast collection of over 446,000 titles, thanks to over eight hundred publishers who contribute their digital files to the library.

Reading Takes Discipline

I am the Executive Director of a diagnostic and radiology center in Florida. My responsibilities are to review contracts, oversee a large staff, monitor and manage purchasing, and execute strategic plans. I also work with a technical team. We are developing an app for physicians to receive patient diagnostic reports in real time. I learned how to develop an app using an iOS application book for dummies from Bookshare. I think my tech team really respected that.

For me, reading is a discipline. When I get ready to read a hefty contract or document, I gear up and focus on the task. To comprehend the context, I use Voice Dream Reader and am grateful to Winston Chen, the developer of the application. This reading tool is so easy to use with Bookshare.

Wonderful Feeling to Be Hooked on Knowledge!

It is a wonderful feeling to be hooked on knowledge and to know how really smart we can become.  Digital accessible books and technologies have given me this freedom.  To people living with a print disability, young or older, I say, fuel your passions and interests using digital accessible books and technologies. Your life will be more meaningful. There is nothing that can stand in your way, except your own motivation.

Special thanks to Davis Graham for sharing his personal story.

 

About Bookshare

Bookshare is the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. Through its extensive collection of educational and popular titles, specialized book formats, and reading tools, Bookshare offers individuals who cannot read standard print materials the same ease of access that people without disabilities enjoy. In 2007 and 2012, Bookshare received two five-year awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualifying print disability. The Bookshare library now has over 446,000 books and serves more than 400,000 members. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that develops and uses technology to create positive social change.

 

 

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Have You Caught the Bookshare Bingo Fever?

2016 July 12

Bingo Header_3

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on all those books you have been meaning to read. It’s not too late to join our fun summer reading activity: Bookshare Bingo. The game of Bingo is believed to have originated in the 1920s by Hugh J. Ward who introduced it at carnivals around Pittsburgh and in Western Pennsylvania.

Book cover for Tesla's Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric ElfmanToday, there are more versions of bingo than you can count, and our version involves reading at least five books that correspond to five categories in a row, column, or diagonal to get a bingo. Then you submit your Bingo card and get a special gift while supplies last.Book cover for 10,000 Days of Thunder by Philip Caputo

Many members have already submitted bingo cards. Here are just a few of the captivating books that they have been enjoying this summer:

Book cover for Dandelion Fire by ND WilsonNeed some ideas? Our staff has prepared Book cover for 15 Sports Myths and Why They're Wrong by Rodney Fort and Jason Winfreesummer reading lists for children, middle school students, teens, and adults. Dive in and see which titles intrigue you, or find your own books. Then all you need is a comfy chair, hammock, beach towel, or cozy bed so you can settle in with a good book. Let Bookshare unlock the door to a summer filled with reading. Catch the Bookshare Bingo fever!

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Indiana Assistive Technology Expert Finds “Gem” in Bookshare

2016 July 6

Special thanks to Laura Medcalf  for her contribution to the Bookshare blog. We appreciate the mission of the Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) Project and Laura’s “on the record” testimonial. 

Laura in a sound-proof studio front of a microphone ready to record a podcast.“When you read my blog or listen to my podcasts for the Indiana Assistive Technology Act Project (INDATA), you will notice a common theme. I focus on one form of disability or assistive technology that benefits individuals with a single disability (e.g., visual impairment, hearing loss, autism, etc.).

Assistive technology is my passion and my goal is to educate Indiana patrons (“Go Hoosiers!”) and readers across the world who are interested in quality assistive technology resources.

“The term ‘assistive technology device’ means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” –Assistive Technology Act of 1998Sometimes, through my research, I discover a resource that is a true gem because it can substantially and positively impact thousands of individuals with a myriad of disabilities, and Bookshare is one such gem.

The online accessible library combined with reading tools and apps are what I refer to as “evergreen” in the assistive technology world. The resource stands the test of time with a history of innovation and services that are more relevant and beneficial today, especially in educating K-12 youth and post-secondary students who qualify.

Six Reasons I Recommend Bookshare:

  1. Bookshare’s mission and functionality fit the description of what AT is meant to accomplish: improving the functional capabilities of people with disabilities.
  2. Bookshare benefits persons of all ages with print disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired, or those who have a physical or learning disability.
  3. The library helps people with print disabilities become independent and self-reliant.
  4. The collection has an abundance of digital accessible titles to satisfy diverse interests from academic to professional and self-development to leisure.
  5. Members can read accessible ebooks with various reading tools and apps to accommodate many learning and reader preferences.
  6. Membership is free for U.S. schools and students who qualify.

My longtime respect for Bookshare continues as does my hope that more people with print disabilities can truly enjoy a universal and equitable reading experience. I will continue to cover the evolution and benefits of the online library in my blogs and podcasts as I truly believe it can help to remove barriers so that more individuals can be recognized for their abilities rather than their disabilities. Giving the gift of this reading resource is truly a gem of an opportunity and we can all celebrate that.”

Learn More with link

About Bookshare

Visit the Bookshare website to sign up as an organization if you represent a U.S. school. For parents or caregivers, you can sign a child up for an individual membership. Both options are free for U.S. students who qualify. There is a minimal annual subscription for non-student and international members.

INDATA and Easter Seals Crossroads logoAbout Laura Medcalf and INDATA

Laura Medcalf studied special education and creative writing at Ball State University. She is responsible for researching and writing content for INDATA and hosting the Accessibility Minute Podcast, a sixty-second podcast covering everything on accessibility which airs on Fridays.

Easter Seals Crossroads has been providing assistive technology solutions in Indiana since 1979. In 2007, it partnered with the State of Indiana, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, to establish the Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) Project. Core services include: information and referral, funding assistance, public awareness and education, device demonstration, device loan, and re-utilized computers and equipment. The project is one of fifty-six similar federally-funded projects designed to increase access to and awareness of assistive technology.  To find a similar project in another US state or territory, visit: www.RESNAProjects.org.

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Follow Us to the NFB and ACB 2016 Conventions

2016 June 29

The Bookshare team from Benetech is excited to attend two of our favorite conventions — the 76th Annual National Federation of the Blind (NFB) National Convention in Orlando, Florida, from National Federation of the Blind Logo "Live the life you want."June 30 to July 5, and the 55th Annual Conference and Convention of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from July 1 to July 9, 2016.

Benetech salutes these important organizations and their efforts to ensure equal opportunity for blind and visually impaired people. In support, the Benetech / Bookshare team will attend both conventions and looks forward to meeting Logo for American Council of the Blindattendees, rekindling relationships with long-time members and supporters, and establishing new ones.

We invite all attendees to meet our staff and learn about the latest Bookshare news and updates on Benetech’s broader efforts to make books and reading accessible for people with disabilities. Here’s a preview:

Meet Us at NFB

At NFB, attendees can meet the Bookshare staff at booth #B23 on the exhibit floor to sign up for or renew memberships, ask questions, and learn more about Bookshare. We will also be giving a series of presentations to various NFB committees and attendees at divisional meetings.

Meet Us at ACB

At ACB, attendees are invited to meet the Bookshare staff during Bookshare Office Hours on July 5th from 7:15 am to 8:30 pm in the Lake Minnetonka room. Please stop by, meet our staff, sign up, renew your memberships, and get your questions answered.

Versatility of Braille

Photo of Allison HillikerWe also encourage you to read this insightful article on the versatility of braille, written by Allison Hilliker, our Bookshare Customer Support Specialist. Allison’s article was recently published in NFB’s Future  Reflections magazine titled: “A New Perspective on Literacy for Students with Low Vision.”

 

 

 

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Benetech Partners with Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services to Bring Bookshare to Patrons with Print Disabilities

2016 June 28

GLASS offers over 425,000 accessible ebooks in its pursuit of total accessibility

Benetech, provider of Bookshare, is proud to announce a new partnership with Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services (GLASS), making over 425,000 accessible ebooks available for free to patrons who cannot read printed books due to blindness, low vision, dyslexia, and other print disabilities. GLASS is the statewide network of talking book centers that provides library services for the blind and others whose physical abilities require the use of books and magazines in digital audio formats or in braille.

Beginning July 1, every Georgian with an eligible print disability will have free access to Bookshare’s vast Logo for GLASS: Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Servicesonline library including bestsellers, literature, non-fiction, picture books, educational texts, career guides, and much more as GLASS patrons.

“GLASS is happy to be able to offer access to Bookshare as a library resource at no expense to eligible library patrons,” said Pat Herndon, MLIS, Director of GLASS. “Georgia is only the second state to offer this program to its eligible readers. We are thrilled to make this valuable resource available to GLASS patrons and Georgians with a certified print impairment.”

Rob Turner is using a refreshable braille display

Rob Turner is using a refreshable braille display.

Currently, all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities can access Bookshare’s library for free under an award from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). This new partnership serves eligible Georgia patrons of all ages, whether they are students or not.

With Bookshare ebooks, members can customize their reading experience in ways that work for them. Members can listen to words read aloud with high quality text-to-speech voices, read with enlarged fonts, see and hear as words are highlighted, read in braille, and more. Further, members can read on a wide variety of devices, including tablets, smart phones, computers, assistive technology devices, and MP3 players using a variety of free and paid apps. Bookshare offers free apps including Bookshare Web Reader, which can be used on any computer and laptop, as well as Go Read for Android.

“We are proud to partner with GLASS to open up new horizons for Georgians with print disabilities. Girl reading on an electronic deviceBookshare offers them access to an extensive collection of accessible ebooks free of charge and for use on a wide variety of devices,” said Brad Turner, Vice President of Global Literacy at Benetech. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with GLASS and are working to set up similar agreements with other public library systems across the U.S. so that all persons with print disabilities have full access to the world of books.”

This partnership is the second of its kind between Bookshare and a large U.S. public library. The first, with the New York Public Library (NYPL), provides unlimited downloads of accessible materials for patrons’ personal use and more than doubles the number of titles available to NYPL patrons with print disabilities.

Beginning July 1, Georgians with qualifying disabilities who wish to sign up for free access to Bookshare should go to the GLASS website for more information, email glass@georgialibraries.org, or call 1-800-248-6701.

About Bookshare

Bookshare is the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. Through its extensive collection of educational and popular titles, specialized book formats, and reading tools, Bookshare offers individuals who cannot read standard print materials the same ease of access that people without disabilities enjoy. In 2007 and 2012, Bookshare received two five-year awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualifying print disability. The Bookshare library now has over 425,000 books and serves more than 400,000 members. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that develops and uses technology to create positive social change. www.bookshare.org.

About Benetech

Benetech is a different kind of tech company. We’re a nonprofit whose mission is to empower communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions. Our work has transformed how over 400,000 people with disabilities read; made it safer for human rights defenders in over fifty countries to document human rights violations; and equipped environmental conservationists to protect ecosystems and species all over the world. Our Benetech Labs is working on the next big impact. Visit www.benetech.org.

About GLASS

A division of Georgia Public Library Service, Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services (GLASS) supports accessible library services in Georgia by promoting the use of assistive technology and by providing accessible reading materials to those who, due to a disability, are unable to read standard print. GLASS is supported in part by a grant to GPLS from the Library Services and Technology Act through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. www.georgialibraries.org/glass

 

Bookshare Member Amare Leggette Competes in 2016 National Braille Challenge

2016 June 15
by Bookshare Communications
Amare reading a Bookshare book in Braille

Amare reading a Bookshare book in Braille

Amare Leggette, an energetic eight-year-old from Eastover Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina, will compete against nine students in the Apprentice age group at the 2016 National Braille Challenge.

“Amare is a fast reader and eager learner,” says Holly Jeffries, his teacher of the visually impaired. “He has a natural ability to skim, comprehend, make contractions, and knows when to reread text. He also loves new vocabulary words and enjoys putting them on our school braille word wall. I know he is prepared for the competition and is ready to take home the prize!”

Classroom Braille Word Wall

Classroom Braille Word Wall

Blind since birth, Amare has read since the age of two thanks to his mother, a teacher, who worked with him. His teacher says, “He has incredible recall and memorized his math tables at an early age.”

Now in second grade, Amare reads above grade level and is studying fifth grade math. In the national competition, he will perform a series of high-level skills in spelling, braille contractions, timed reading, comprehension, proofreading, and answering questions.

Holly Jeffries sitting aside Amare Leggette

Holly Jeffries, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, NC, with Amare Leggette

Ms. Jeffries, a seasoned educator who has taught children (K-5) who are visually-impaired and homebound, says, “Amare is wonderfully bright! In his first week of school, he read twelve braille books – that is one third of our entire school collection. He has already completed all of his third grade reading assignments. Bookshare supplies an excellent resource of knowledge. Using the online library, Amare gets the books he wants to read quickly, and I’ve timed him reading at over 150 words per minute!”

Bookshare, a Key Braille Resource

In Bookshare, English language books can be accessed in contracted or uncontracted braille, in either Unified English Braille (UEB) or English Braille, American Edition (EBAE). Jeffries says, “When you have a student like Amare, who can read a book in just one night, our job is to meet that demand. With Bookshare, we can readily download unlimited accessible books in braille, audio and large print formats.”

Amare is not the only one of Jeffries’ students who is a high performer. They all attend general education classes and are expected to be on par academically using similar curriculum materials. Jeffries says, “Students with disabilities possess such character, determination, and courage. We must set high expectations for them as early as possible so that they can master braille literacy for a strong foundation.”

A college professor encouraged Jeffries to explore Bookshare which is free for U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities. In 2008, she introduced the online accessible library to her district to find curriculum resources in braille, audio, and large print. Several teachers wanted to learn how to use the library at that time. “We signed our school up for an Organizational Membership and then signed students up for Individual Memberships,” says Jeffries. “Today, our school is not hindered by needing a book in braille and not finding it, or having to wait weeks for a copy. School braille books also get worn out, and pages aren’t fresh and crisp. Additionally, it’s not so easy to purchase them in local stores at $30 or $40 each. Students don’t want to carry heavy volumes around because it makes them stand out.”

winn dixieWhen Amare isn’t reading or studying math, his teacher selects books and adds them to Amare’s Reading List so that he can relish in them over the summer. One of his favorite stories is Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo. He also enjoys books about space, weather, trains and holiday traditions.

Reading Braille at an Early Age

Amare’s parents read to him at an early age and believe in early intervention. They say their son knows his way around a braille book and can quickly scan the index, table of contents and bookmarked chapters. He also likes to present book reports on biographies and create posters. Mrs. Leggette says, “Bookshare has been a great learning tool for Amare to explore and excel.”

Amare’s parents, along with his grandparents and Ms. Jeffries, will attend the competition and are excited to watch him compete. Jeffries says, “The National Braille Challenge is always motivating! We know that Amare will do his very best. He has already made me, our school, our state, and his family so proud.”

The Bookshare team would also like to congratulate Amare Leggette for his accomplishments. We wish him and all the 2016 contestants much luck and success in the challenge and in all that they aspire to do. Read about the fifty finalists.

About the National Braille Challenge®

The Braille Challenge® is an academic competition designed to motivate blind students to emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, but challenging, local and national events. Any visually-impaired student who reads braille is eligible to participate in the preliminary Challenge contest events, which are held from January through March throughout the U.S. and Canada.

This year, (2016) the preliminary Braille Challenge was held in forty-six sites and proctored by eighty individual teachers of visually-impaired students. Each contestant received a certificate of appreciation in braille and feedback on their performance. The top fifty contestants are then invited to Los Angeles for two days of competition, camaraderie, and fun. Braille Challenge categories include reading comprehension, braille speed and accuracy, proofreading, spelling, and reading tactile charts and graphs.

The 2016 National Braille Challenge is June 17-18th, 2016, at the Los Angeles Center, 741 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029.

 

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Start a Summer Reading Bonanza with Bookshare Bingo

2016 June 7
by Bookshare Communications

Summer and a good book go together like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Frog and Toad, Harry Boy reading on a tablet sitting on the grassPotter and Lord Voldemort, Winnie the Pooh and, well, you get the idea. And in case you are wondering what to read this summer, we have one hundred and fifty-five suggestions of juicy books into which you can sink your teeth. Whether you are lounging at home, reclining in a hammock, cooling off at the pool, catching some rays at the beach, going on a road trip, flying in a plane, or visiting grandma, you can take your favorite Bookshare books with you.

The Bookshare team has hand-picked a wide variety of wonderful books for all ages:

Here’s a taste of the kinds of books you can find on each list.

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?Book cover of "What Do You Do with a Tail Like This" by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page By Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

A nose for digging? Ears for seeing? Eyes that squirt blood? Explore the many amazing things animals can do with their ears, eyes, mouths, noses, feet, and tails in this interactive guessing book that was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, prevented Book cover of "Wonder" by RJ Palaciohim from going to a mainstream school. Starting fifth grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid — but his classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Over three million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller, Wonder, and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.

Book cover of "The Scorpio Races" by Maggie StiefvaterThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Nineteen-year-old returning champion Sean Kendrick competes against Puck Connolly, the first girl ever to ride in the annual Scorpio Races, both trying to keep hold of their dangerous water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Book cover of "Everything I Never Told You" by Celeste NgChinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

Make Summer Reading Even More Fun with Bookshare Bingo

To increase the fun quotient even more, join us for the Bookshare Bingo summer reading event. Here’s how it works:

  1. Discover and read fun and interesting books.
  2. Complete a row, column, or diagonal on the Bingo card by reading books in select book categories.
  3. Submit your Bingo card starting June 15.

Bingo card with categoriesIf you get a Bingo, you’ll get a free gift from Bookshare (while supplies last). Visit the Bookshare Bingo page for more information!

Tips for Parents to Encourage Summer Reading

Our goal is to help increase motivation, interest, and engagement for all readers, especially younger ones. We hope the combination of Bookshare Bingo, summer reading lists, and the helpful tips below will encourage readers throughout the summer and beyond:

  • Let kids read whatever they want – nothing is too easy.
  • Try echo reading – read a page and then have your child read the same page (or take turns reading alternate pages).
  • Read aloud through middle school – a child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to listening level until about eighth grade, according to a study.
  • Plan reading “dates” – parent and child each take a favorite book to the park or coffee shop and read silently for ten minutes.
  • Don’t force kids to finish a book that’s too difficult, frustrating, or uninteresting
  • Celebrate the completion of each book and post a list for all to admire.

Bookshare can help make summer reading a priority and a delight. Enjoy a book today.

Can Accessible Ebooks Be the Pathway to Reading Comprehension and Summer Fun?

2016 June 3

Linda sitting at her desk.Parents of children with disabilities often ask Linda Sherouse, a Library Media Specialist at North Hampton School in New Hampshire, how can I encourage more quiet time for my child who has a disability?” Linda’s reply is to find a good book and consider resources, like Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. “Over the years, I’ve helped many kids love to read voraciously and on their own,” says Linda.

Bookshare – A Viable Reading Resource

As an avid proponent of accessible books, Linda provides reading support for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. She interacts with just about everyone in her school — from general and special education teachers, case managers, curriculum specialists, and administrators — to students and their parents. “When teachers come to me with a child who has a 504 Plan or Individualized Education Program (IEP) who qualify, I immediately recommend Bookshare as a viable resource,” she says. “We explore books in our library that students are interested in and then download them from Bookshare onto their iPads. After signing them up and giving them technology accommodations, we’ve seen students with vision and learning disabilities enjoy reading for the first time – an awesome experience for everyone!”

Changing the Minds of Skeptical Parents

One parent, who was reluctant to have his child introduced to accessible ebooks, was amazed at the difference in his son’s reading experience after his first audio book. “He became enthralled with a popular teen series over summer vacation,” describes Linda. “His father recognized that his son could spend quiet time reading and that Bookshare was the resource that made it happen. For the rest of vacation and now in school, the student is well equipped with a Bookshare membership and reading tools that meet his needs and learning preferences.”

teen wearing headphones and sitting in front of a computer.

student with headphones reading on a computer in his classroom.

Improving Reading and Vocabulary Skills

Another student, who tired easily staring at printed books, used Bookshare to improve his reading skills and vocabulary. Linda says, “We put his reading assignments onto the iPad and selected a digital audio book for pleasure reading. He kept listening to his favorite stories through text-to-speech and became a different child. Now, his schoolwork is on par, and his appetite for reading popular literature at home is rising.”

From Resource to Inclusive Environments

Linda mentions that it often took years to find the right tools and strategies for students with print and learning disabilities. Her approach now begins by reading a chapter from a digital book and asking the student to read a chapter back. She says, “It doesn’t take long for their comprehension to improve and for them to experience an aha moment. After a short time, they are listening and some are following along with the highlighted words. Through Bookshare, we have immediate access to many types of digital accessible formats to accommodate learners with different challenges. Some of our students also moved from a resource setting to an inclusive classroom.”

Don’t be a Skeptical Parent or Teacher

To parents who are skeptical about technology and accessible ebooks, Linda says, “Reading can be so much fun! Many parents are now eager to help their child read. They encourage them to participate in discussions and to make reading and learning connections. They make statements like these:

  • I just cannot believe everything my child has learned.”
  • My child is telling me about a story in context.”
  • My child has finally found books that he/she cannot put down.”

Linda’s response is always familiar with a dash of excitement about children now understanding literature and language in context. She says, “These incidents prove that any student with a disability can be an independent reader with the right tools, information, and resources.”

Try Bookshare Today!

If you have students that cannot read traditional print books due to disabilities like blindness, low vision, or a physical or learning disability like dyslexia, he/she may qualify for free membership to Bookshare. Sign up now so students can enjoy all the benefits of accessible ebooks for schoolwork and over the summer. For even more fun, check out our summer fun Bingo challenge.

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Bingo! Students Who Read Beat Summer Slide

2016 May 27

Set students up for summer reading success with books from Bookshare.

The dreaded summer slide. Research suggests that a summer break can cause an average student to loseKids who read beat summer slide - graphic showing how access to books during summer prevents a drastic loss in reading skill, especially for kids in need. up to one month of instruction, with disadvantaged students disproportionately affected (Cooper, 1996).  Fortunately, access to books during summer helps students beat the summer slide, and Bookshare’s accessible online library is the perfect resource for kids who cannot read traditional print books due to disabilities like blindness, low vision, physical disabilities, and learning disabilities like dyslexia.

Checklist for Teachers

How can you make sure your students are set up with accessible ebooks from Bookshare? Here are some tips to help make a smooth transition to summer:

  • Make sure students can access Bookshare on their own over the summer by giving them a Student Login.
  • Get students books for the summer by creating and sharing Reading Lists.
  • Set up graduates and students moving on to new schools with Individual Memberships so they can continue to use Bookshare on their own.
  • Get ahead by requesting books now that students will need in the fall.

Bingo card with book categories in each squareFind Summer Reads with Bookshare Bingo

Looking for summer reading books? You can find great titles and have a ton of fun by joining the Bookshare Bingo reading event!

Through Bookshare Bingo, members can discover a variety of fun and interesting titles. You can get a Bingo by reading books from different categories listed on the Bookshare Bingo card. To help get you started, we have created a list of book recommendations for all ages to explore. And, while supplies last, participants will get a free gift. The summer reading program begins June 15th, and you can get ready now by adding books to member Reading Lists. Get ready for Bookshare Bingo!