There’s no better form of flattery than receiving a really cool testimonial about the Bookshare library. Whether you do it in a handwritten note, a quick email, or a video testimonial, it’s just awesome to receive your thoughts and we always feel so honored!
That’s why we’re featuring this fabulous video created by Carson Maxson, an 8th grader from Olivet Middle School, Michigan, and his English teacher, Sallie Spencer, a former K-12 principal and Bookshare Mentor Teacher.
How Read2Go Moved My Life
Carson and Sallie created this video, “How Read2Go Moved My Life,” for the first White House Student Film Festival to demonstrate how technology can change learning experiences in school. Over 2,500 students responded to the call for videos, and we have no doubt that President Obama and the White House staffers were thrilled with all the students’ submissions, including Carson’s!
Enjoy his video and if you’ve got a story to share, let us know about it by posting on our Facebook channel or commenting in this blog.
Great job Carson! A special thank-you and round of applause to you and Mrs. Spencer for demonstrating your use of technology for learning in school!
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog by Mrs. Spencer about Carson’s learning journey and the amazing progress he has made in his academic reading level and reading for pleasure.
P.S. We would love to receive your videos, photos and testimonials about your use of Bookshare. Please note that whenever possible, please include captions and image descriptions to improve accessibility for all.
This year’s conference was a resounding success, and we thank the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) for the great work they do to organize the conference and other events throughout the year.
Conferences, like ATIA, are very important for learning new knowledge and for special opportunities to meet with new and long-standing Bookshare members in person.
Bringing together such a diverse community of educators, parents, researchers, and developers helps us all to grow and share new and better ways to support children and adults with disabilities. To that end, here’s a quick roundup of our presentations, trainings and lively member events!
This year, Bookshare staffers met and presented information to record numbers of educators and parents. We held two hands-on training workshops:
- The first was a Bookshare Beginner Training, where attendees learned how to get started with Bookshare and download their first book using Bookshare’s free reading tools.
- The second was a Bookshare Advanced Training, where we taught experienced members how to get more out of their Bookshare accounts. They learned how to search for books, organize titles with Reading Lists, get students individual memberships and how to help students read with Bookshare Web Reader.
We also held a Bookshare Member Feedback Meeting to thank our members for all the great work and mentoring they do every day with their students, parents, families, and other teachers. These member meetings are an important way to get feedback on Bookshare. We learn a lot about the daily use of the library and take all of the information back to our teams to improve our services.
ATIA Conference Presentations
In addition to our training workshops, we also presented information to ATIA conference attendees on four topics related to accessible formats and literacy. Here are brief descriptions of the topics:
Metadata Standards Related to Common Core
Gerardo Capiel, VP of Technology at Benetech, presented on new metadata standards and tools to help with the discovery of accessible common core materials.
Route 66 Literacy
Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager of Benetech Global Literacy, and Dr. Karen Erickson, Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, presented on the re-launch of Route 66 Literacy and new features to help adolescent and adult beginning readers learn how to read.
Accessible STEM Materials and Assessments
Betsy Beaumon delivered a second presentation on the latest developments in accessible STEM learning materials and assessments.
Reading Bookshare Books with Kurzweil
Mario Oliveros, Sr. Manager at Bookshare, presented with Kurzweil on finding and reading Bookshare titles with Kurzweil 3000 and Firefly.
ATIA was a busy and fascinating conference! We know that not everyone can attend conferences, so we encourage you to keep your feedback coming. You can do this by subscribing to our discussions lists or commenting on Facebook. And learn more about our ongoing training workshops!
Stay tuned for our TCEA 2014 roundup blog coming soon!
The Bookshare Staff
You may not know Theodor Geisel by name, but when you hear the titles of his famous children’s literature, like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and the Cat in the Hat, you’ll know that he is Dr. Seuss.
For more than 75 years, his books have charmed children and families around the world, and you can find many of his titles in the Bookshare library.
Dr. Seuss wanted children to laugh and to be challenged, entertained, and delighted by the joy of reading. His brilliantly written and playful books, such as Oh, the Places You Will Go!, have motivated millions of us.
Each year, on his birthday, March 2, we honor his legacy through a national initiative known as Read Across America. During the month, schools, publishers, businesses, and organizations hold reading events to foster the love of reading. The National Education Association (NEA) spearheads this event by offering lessons, activities, and information about happenings in U.S. schools. You can download a 2014 Read Across America poster for your classroom, too!
Did you know that there are many outstanding children’s authors who follow in the footsteps of Dr. Seuss? Each year, the American Library Association recognizes a select few authors with the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. Winners are chosen for their literary and artistic achievements in creatively and imaginatively engaging children.
This year’s prestigious award is given to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers. The winner, The Watermelon Seed, was written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli and published by Disney Hyperion Books. The book is about a watermelon-loving crocodile that becomes distraught after swallowing a seed that he believes will grow inside of him.
Bookshare has created a special collection of many of the 2014 award-winning titles from the ALA. You can locate them in our children’s literature section. Many titles do have images, so look for the option to select a title either by “DAISY With Images” or just as “DAISY Text Only.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! And to All Book Fans Everywhere… Enjoy Read Across America Month!
Bookshare members and sponsors, won’t you join us in celebrating Dr. Seuss and other award-winning children’s authors by downloading one book from the collection? Just one book can help a child go to new places and develop a love of reading!
We hope you’ll also post your favorite Dr. Seuss book on Facebook and share with us news of your Read Across America event—whether it’s in your home with your family or at your school or organization.
The American Library Association (ALA) just announced the winners of the 2014 Schneider Family Book Awards. The ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world, and the Schneider Family Book Awards honor the artistic achievements of authors or illustrators who portray the disability experience. Awards are in three categories:
1) for child and adolescent audiences: birth through grade school (ages 0–8)
2) middle school (ages 9–13), and
3) teens (ages 14–18).
Learn about this year’s winners and download their books from the Bookshare library!
Award for Young Children
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.
As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw. He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor, making things come alive. This picture book biography of self-taught African American folk artist Horace Pippin demonstrates the dogged determination of a wounded soldier to paint again. After a WWI injury threatened to end his potential artistic career, he trained himself to paint by supporting his injured arm with the other hand.
Award for Best Middle School Title
Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.
Tilda has never given much thought to dragons, attending instead to her endless duties and wishing herself free of a princess’s responsibilities. Supported by friends and dragons, Tilda realizes her physical limitations do not define her.
Award for Best Teen Title
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group.
Rose Justice is a young pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. On her way back from a semi-secret flight in the waning days of the war, Rose is captured by the Germans and ends up in Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi women’s concentration camp.
For more information on the Schneider Family Book Awards, visit www.ala.org/yma.
Each year, thousands of students miss school due to a chronic illness and fall behind on their homework. This is the case for Hailey Bopp, a Texas youngster who is blind and has cognitive delays. “When Hailey misses school, she gets sad and depressed,” says Ann Bopp, her mom, “because she doesn’t get to read the books her teacher and classmates are reading.”
To mitigate her daughter’s frustration, Ann signed Hailey up for a Bookshare individual membership and advocates for the online library to other families in similar situations.
“Using Bookshare and an iPad, Hailey keeps up with reading assignments and that makes for a better learning experience,” says Ann. “When I first observed how favorably she reacted to downloading and reading a digital book, I knew we were on the right track! Her reading fatigue is minimal now and no more hunting for titles, lugging heavy volumes to and from the hospital, and missing schoolwork. When we equip sick children with learning portability, they have a better chance of academic progress.”
Ann tells other parents, “Meet with your principal, librarian, or special education teacher to discuss the benefits of accessible books. Ask teachers for a list of novels that your child is required to read. Do a book search on the Bookshare website to determine if the titles are there. Encourage an educator to sign their school up for a Bookshare organizational membership so they can download K-12 textbooks on behalf of children who qualify. Check out Bookshare’s Reading List feature to help teachers stay organized and to assign reading lessons on time.”
Today, Hailey is a completely independent reader. Her mom says, “Every child with print disabilities can benefit from resources like Bookshare and reading technologies to ensure learning portability. I encourage parents to give digital accessible books a try!”
Watch this video tutorial on how to use Bookshare’s Reading List feature now!
P.S. Texas educators and parents are encouraged to learn more about Bookshare and local training through the Accessible Books for Texas program.
About Accessible Books for Texas (ABT)
Through the TEA-funded ABT program, Benetech delivers customized, face-to-face AIM and Bookshare training to educators and parents throughout Texas and applies dedicated resources to Texas membership, support questions and Texas book requests. Anyone interested in a similar partnership with Benetech, please contact Christine Jones at email@example.com for information.
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, start on February 6! To help inaugurate this amazing international competition, the Bookshare Collections Development team has put together a wonderful list of books for all ages.
Do you want to know how and when the first games started? Do you want to learn more about specific events like hockey or skiing? Do you want to read about Winter Olympic athletes, like speed skater Apolo Ohno?
Get ready for the winter games with these great books, add them to your Reading List, and share with others!
Books for Children and Adolescents
Tacky and the Winter Games (grades PreK-1)
Tacky the penguin wants to compete in EVERY winter sport. Will his friends and teammates survive his enthusiasm?
Winter Olympics: A True Book (grades 3-6)
An excellent history of over 100 years of winter sports in the Olympics.
Snowboard Duel (grades 4-6)
The new snowboard team is “boys only”—that leaves Brian’s best friend Hannah out in the cold!
Ice Dreams (grades 4-8)
Maya’s family wants her to carry on her mother’s Olympic dreams in figure skating—how will she tell them that it’s hockey that’s her real love?
White Gates (grades 5-7)
Is there really a curse on Snow Park’s snowboarding team? Will Tor and his friends unravel the mystery before more are hurt?
Gold Medal Winter (grades 6-8)
Esperanza’s dream of competing for gold in figure skating is turning into a nightmare of distractions and challenges!
Catching Air! The Wild World of Snowboarding (grades 6-8)
Experts at Sports Illustrated give you a fascinating inside glimpse of this world of high stakes and action and the athletes who make it their own.
Slalom (grades 7-9)
Sandro Birch is a born skier—but will the return of his long-absent father help or harm his dreams of greatness on the slopes?
The Finnish Line (grades 8-10)
Ski jumper “Mo” Clark learns about more than just sports in her first time living and competing abroad.
Each chapter reviews a different competition—its history, legendary competitors, judging, and other fun facts that will put you in the know as you watch this year’s Games.
Where Countries Come to Play (grades 9-12)
An authoritative account of the tradition and dramas of Olympic ice hockey competition—including the legendary “Miracle on Ice” of 1980.
Bode: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun (grades 9-12)
Inspiring and entertaining “as-told-to” biography of Bode Miller, from humble beginnings to international skiing fame.
Books for Older and Adult Readers
Chris Klug’s amazing odyssey spans a career as an elite Olympic snowboarder and triumph as an organ transplant survivor.
An ice-level view of the young amateur American hockey team that electrified their country in 1980 with their “miracle on ice.”
Speed skater Apolo Ohno shares the lessons he learned over a lifetime of striving and competing for Olympic gold.
Wayne Johnson takes us into the high-risk, high-thrills world of elite skiers, men and women who challenge the boundaries of nature and their own selves.
Rudy Galindo tells the story of his battles against poverty, prejudice, and personal tragedy to reach the heights of figure skating success.
Behind-the-scenes story of the controversial 2002 Olympic pairs skating competition: the human dramas surrounding the event and the confession of a corrupt judge that led to the unprecedented awarding of a second gold medal.
Tina Basich was never interested in being “pretty good for a girl,” and she pushed the envelope for acceptance of women as legitimate snowboard competitors.
The fairytale romance of Russian figure skaters Sergei Grinkov and Katia Gordeeva was beautiful, public—and all too short.
Where would winter sports be without ice? Learn more about the slippery substance from a cultural historian in Minnesota (where they know a thing or two about life below freezing)!
Special thanks to the Bookshare Collections Development department for this super list of accessible books.
Have you ever wondered how Bookshare builds such a rich and varied collection of titles so quickly in the library? Each month, we add more than 3000 titles to engage the hearts and minds of members of all ages. We currently have 223,000+ (and counting) titles in the collection. Educational and general interest trade titles in English comprise the majority of our collection, but our goal is to bring Bookshare services to many more people with print disabilities in more geographies and languages. To that end, we’re working hard to expand partnerships with the international publishing community.
That’s where Robin Seaman, Benetech’s Director of Content Acquisition for our Global Literacy Program, steps in. Robin’s job is to engage publishers and other industry stakeholders in a deep conversation about the power of ebooks to change lives both in the U.S. and around the world. Thanks to the generosity of publishers who grant us the rights to distribute their books internationally, people with print disabilities in nearly fifty countries around the world have access to over 100,000 of the books in our collection.
In pursuit of making Bookshare a worldwide resource, Robin travels across the country and around the world to talk with publishers from every sector of the business about making their content available through Bookshare and giving us the rights to distribute internationally.
Last November, Robin took a long flight to attend the Sharjah International Book Fair in the United Arab Emirates’ (U.A.E.). This prestigious book fair is organized by the U.K. Publishers Association and more than 35 countries were represented. Robin kept a journal of her travels, including wonderful photographs, and wrote about her journey on Benetech’s Blog. Robin says, “In the U.S., Benetech and many others are making excellent strides toward solving the ‘accessible book famine.’ However, we know that our work to meet the global need for accessible content has just begun. I’m excited to talk with new publishers about our Bookshare International initiative and extend an open invitation to the publishing community to join us in this quest.”