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It Only Takes One Good Book to Get Hooked on Reading

2016 March 2

At Bookshare, we have a saying that “it only takes one good book to get hooked on reading.” This monthGraphic that says Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss with his photo, Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, and other characters. we are celebrating special reading events and award-winning literature for 2016 to help members find a treasure trove of good books:

  • Happy birthday to one of our favorite authors, Dr. Seuss, on March 2
  • National Education Association’s Read Across America Day is a national initiative to spread the joy of reading to children and young adults
  • The 2016 Youth Media Awards, presented by The American Library Association, recognize outstanding works of literature as well as authors and illustrators

2016 Youth Media Awards

This year’s award winners consist of original and creative works to help guide parents, educators, librarians, and Bookshare members to select the best reading materials for youth. Additional titles by the winning authors can be found in Bookshare’s ever-expanding collection. We encourage you to explore these books and share them with students so they can get hooked on reading for life.  A few of the award winners are listed below:

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Book cover of Don't Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler and illustrated by Sam RicksTheodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book: Don’t Throw It to Mo!, written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Sam Ricks

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. The 2016 winner is Jerry Pinkney, whose award-winning works include The Lion and the Mouse, recipient of the Caldecott Award in 2010.

Book cover of The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa TotenMargaret A. Edwards Award honors lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. David Levithan is the 2016 winner. His books include: The Realm of Possibility, Boy Meets Boy, Love is the Higher Law, How They Met, and Other Stories, Wide Awake and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizes an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children’s literature. Jacqueline Woodson is the winner who will deliver the 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award winner for her New York Times’ bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults: Bone Gap, written by Laura Ruby, is the 2016 winner.

New to Bookshare?

Bookshare is the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities and is FREE to all qualifying U.S. students. The Bookshare library has over 394,000 books and serves more than 380,000 members. To find out if a student qualifies, check out this link: Is Bookshare for Me?

If you are already a member, use our advanced search option to find a title quickly, explore the lists of special collections, or read about our latest collection of the Top 100 Picture Books with Image Descriptions.

Make March the month to get hooked on reading!

CEO Credits Bookshare for Unlocking His Love of Reading

2016 February 23

Photo of Stan Gloss“I’ve read more books this year than I’ve read in my lifetime,” says Stan Gloss, CEO of BioTeam, Inc.

Diagnosed with dyslexia over 50 years ago, Stan Gloss grew up with angst and worry about his reading difficulties. He recalls long hours muddling through printed books at a snail’s pace. Stan loved to learn, but his reading difficulty made comprehension and studying three times harder than for other students.

“I learned to persevere by using compensatory strategies like memorization, flash cards, rewriting notes, tape recording classes, finger tracking, and highlighting to help me through school,” he says. “Even in graduate school, I read just enough to pass my tests. That all changed when I found Bookshare. This year, I’ve read more books than I’ve read in my lifetime!”

Stan is a successful CEO and entrepreneur. He has completed his coursework toward a doctoral degree in education. He has worked in top career fields such as healthcare, education, biomedical technology, and computer science. Today, his company, BioTeam, Inc., builds supercomputing and cloud solutions to accelerate scientific discovery. “Who would have thought that my struggles in school would be the best preparation for the challenges I would face as an entrepreneur and CEO,” he says.

With Stan’s new-found love for reading and his research, he has learned that an estimated 35% of U.S. entrepreneurs are dyslexic. This statistic sparked a blazing desire for him to decode the reasons for such a high rate. Stan is now conducting in-depth research about dyslexic entrepreneurs with the goal to develop a training program for dyslexics of all ages. He credits advocates and mentors as the key to his success. “My parents were my advocates, and a childhood family doctor was my mentor,” he said. “They believed in me and nurtured my strengths. I’d like to see more kids and adults with dyslexia go from being labeled as lazy or stupid to a life of being recognized for their strengths and accomplishments.”

Last year, Stan sought the help of Dr. Erica Warren, learning specialist and fellow dyslexic. “It was through her guidance that I learned about Bookshare and Voice Dream Reader, he said. “Reading highlighted text while listening to audiobooks sped up my tracking, improved my comprehension, and enhanced my retention. I only wish I had this technology in grade school. It has opened so many new avenues of learning.”

Stan uses this three-step, sequenced approach to conduct his research:

  • Capture Data – He finds information in Bookshare and reads it with Voice Dream Reader, a text-to-speech program with synchronized highlighting.
  • Organize Data – He takes notes and tracks tasks using Evernote.
  • Synthesize Data – He outlines his thought process using Inspiration 9, a software program for mapping information.

“Technology is finally catching up to dyslexics,” he said. “These tools are game changers for children and adults, and I am a living example that it’s never too late to try something new.”

Book cover for Dyslexic Advantage by Drs. Brock and Fernette EideStan encourages people with dyslexia – young and old – to tap into resources like Bookshare so they can cultivate their inner strengths. He urges assistive technology to be readily available in schools and other learning environments. He stresses the importance of seeking mentors and learning specialists who can recommend best practices.

One of the books he recommends is The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide.

image001“Dyslexia is a gift that needs to be nurtured over a lifetime,” Stan says. “Each learning experience is like a Lego® block. When we build upon and leverage our strengths, we can reach new heights that we never thought were attainable at first.”

There are many more books in Bookshare on this topic. For additional resources, especially for parents, visit

Special thanks to Stan Gloss for inspiring others, especially young entrepreneurs.

Do you know someone who could benefit from access to Bookshare’s online accessible library? Learn more.



Dear Bookshare…Love Letters to Celebrate the Joy of Reading!

2016 February 14

Photo collage of people reading books and the text, "You Never Know Who You Will Inspire With Your Story."February is the sweetest month of the year, but did you know that it is also Library Lovers Month?  So today – Valentine’s Day – we are reminded of the people we love and of the things we love to do, like reading.

Across our nation and the world, in tweets, letters and posts, Bookshare members tell us about their use of the online accessible library and their love of reading digital accessible books.

Members say that 2016 will be a memorable year for reading, and we agree! Whether you want to improve your reading skills or help a student improve theirs; try new technology devices and apps or find bestsellers, check the Bookshare library first. We know you’ll find what you want to read, and if you don’t, request the book to be added to the collection. Like the photo says, “You never know who you will inspire with your story,” and we thank these Bookshare members for sharing their experiences.


Dear Bookshare:

Until I found Bookshare through my local library, I preferred others to read to me, but not anymore. I was so impressed by the number of books in your collection. Now, I read 30 books a month on average. I’m amazed at the formats available too. I can discuss books with my friends and tweet about them. This keeps me connected. I encourage other blind readers to give text to speech a try. You can still cry from a good book!

Sincerely, Noelia Da Rosa, member


Dear Bookshare:

When I discover a character that I really like, I binge read a series and am most passionate about British mysteries, like Inspector Barnaby, Inspector Frost, DCI Banks, Inspector Rutledge, Miss Marple, and Poirot and classics like Dante and Shakespeare. I enjoy historical books, and historical fiction such as “The Book Thief.”  When I was young I had the fantasy of reading every book ever written. I read all of the elementary books in my school library.  At three years old, I started reading Talking Books and now enjoy reading on my braille display, or listening to books. I deeply appreciate Bookshare, and all resources of this nature for giving me the lifelong treasure of reading.

Sincerely, Bill Powell, Workforce Trainer


Dear Bookshare:

Ordinarily, I spend ten minutes at my computer and my minimal vision deteriorates. Using your online library and mobile devices, I adjust the print size, font colors, and background contrasts and it makes reading easier. Now, I’m considering a book club with friends and pursuing continuing education courses. Bookshare has literally been eye-opening!”

Sincerely, Vashti Persaud, member


Dear Bookshare:

We have a young 7th grader who uses Read2Go on a daily basis. It has helped her grow her understanding of books where comprehension can sometimes be a struggle. She loves that she can tap on a word and find the definition right away. Read2Go has allowed her to read several books already this school year. Her teachers and her family are so thankful to our district for allowing her to use an iPad and to Bookshare to help her be able to read easily!

Sincerely, Sallie Spencer, Michigan teacher


Dear Bookshare:

I’ve always loved to read, especially when it comes to learning.  You have so many books to choose from, no matter what category I’m interested in, such as sign language, learning to cook, environmental issues and living sustainably. Through Bookshare, I have found helpful books that I can use and refer back to. I haven’t been able to find them in an accessible format anywhere else.”

Sincerely, Leilani Ramos, member


Dear Bookshare:

“Reading accessible books enables me to join in more group discussions. I am learning to play chess too, and books from Bookshare have helped me to learn the game. I’ve also used books from the library on the police officer’s exam to help a friend study. Plus, I used a book on Multiple Sclerosis to explain my disability to our family. Using Bookshare has helped me to keep up on career advancement. “

Sincerely, Don Knapheide, retired software engineer

Opened Book with text, I Love to Read!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Do you have a favorite title you want to share?

Please keep sharing your thoughts and excitement for a year filled with reading equality for children and adults with print disabilities. We love your letters, posts and tweets!

And, when you subscribe to our blog, you’ll find more inspiring stories from members and learn about advancements in accessible books and technologies that will help you achieve your goals.

You can Tweet us @bookshare, Facebook us, or ask your local library about partnering with Bookshare.

Getting Ready for the Outside World: Bookshare Supports School’s Vocational Program

2016 February 9
Jean Goodwin standing behind a student using a computer with head phones to read. Ken Merrill standing and observing the class training.

Jean Goodwin with student using Bookshare. Ken Merrill observing class.

Aha moments and big smiles are the cues Jean Goodwin looks for in her adult students, ages eighteen to twenty, who have complex language, learning, and cognitive challenges. Goodwin holds a Master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis on Mild-Moderate Disabilities. She is a lead teacher in the GROW transition program at Riverview School in East Sandwich, Massachusetts. The GROW acronym stands for “Getting Ready for the Outside World.”

About GROW

Structured like a college campus, this ten-month transition program enables students to live in dormitories, attend classes, and participate in an extensive internship program to learn how to function independently outside classroom walls. “In this extraordinary learning and living environment, students participate in three phases — academics, independent living, and workforce skills — that act as a bridge to build their proficiencies,” says Goodwin. They learn how to advocate for themselves, make mature choices, and take responsibility for their lives. They learn to use assistive technologies and resources such as Bookshare.”

In GROW, students gain firsthand experience in work settings to develop good habits and increased awareness of their personal strengths and interests. The curriculum includes direct instruction in academic subjects, but also provides students with authentic work and life skills such as how to be an informed passenger in a car with the goal of becoming a good driver, and how to work in food service occupations. “That’s where Bookshare comes in for our students who qualify for the accessible library,” says Goodwin.

In 2015, she completed her graduate ILP (independent learning project or thesis) by researching the importance of adaptive technologies for students with print and learning disabilities. “Accessible technologies enable students to experience multi-modal reading,” she says. “This simultaneous process proves to be a linchpin to motivate students to repeat the reading process out of need or interest.”

Students’ Reading Preferences and Successes

One young man, reading at a second grade level, wanted to read a particular book his brother was reading. He carried the book under his arm everywhere he went, but was unable to grasp the text. Goodwin signed him up for a Bookshare membership that is free to all U. S. students with a qualifying print disability. She helped him search for the book by its ISBN number, brought it up on screen, put headphones on, and taught him to adjust the speed.

Goodwin said, “As soon as the book began to play, he paused it, and with a smile so large it would light up a room said, ‘I know these words.’ That experience changed his vision of himself. Now he reads continually and is thrilled to talk to his family about books. Before accessible books, he never fully comprehended what he read. His fluency and vocabulary skills have improved. Adapted technologies are a proven motivator to help young adults read well and often.”

One young woman didn’t want to give up the printed book, but would often stumble over vocabulary words that made it difficult for her to stay interested in the story. “With audiobooks, she listens to a paragraph read aloud multiple times, and this feature helps her follow along in the printed book,” adds Goodwin.

Students at Riverview School working in food service.

Project Forward School-to-Work Program

Some students at the Riverview School also participate in the Project Forward school-to-work program at Cape Cod Community College. They study basic food services to pass the ServSafe certification test and prepare for actual work experiences in the Riverview Café, a restaurant that provides job training opportunities for students in the GROW program.

For this program, instead of scanning the textbook herself, Goodwin wrote to the publisher to request that the digital accessible file be added to Bookshare. “The key was getting the same edition and it worked beautifully,” she says. “With digital files, students can read what their peers are reading. They don’t look different in class. This is important to them. One student was elated that he could study along with his professor and learn the material. This curbed his test-taking anxiety and he aced the test. His mother was thrilled!”

Ken Merrill, assistive technology infusion instructor, confirms Goodwin’s assessment of the benefits of accessible books and adaptive technologies. Merrill and Goodwin routinely connect with parents to help them understand how students with qualified print disabilities log into the Bookshare library and download books using technologies like the iPad or compatible computer software.

Career Portfolios

Every student graduates with a career portfolio and a copy of their proof of disability form as verification of their membership into Bookshare. Parents are encouraged to assist their young adult child to continue to use their Bookshare individual membership so they will be productive after they graduate. Reading can continue to be a part of their everyday lives,” says Goodwin. “Bookshare levels the playing field in school and keeps students reading.”

In the Driver’s Seat

Riverview School also has a driver’s education program called In the Driver’s Seat. Over the past two years, eighty students with qualifying memberships to Bookshare have studied driver’s education. While taking this preparatory class, they are encouraged to access the driver’s manual (for their individual states) in the Bookshare library to learn the rules of the road.

Merrill says, “Because the materials for the driver’s permit and the food service exams are in Bookshare, it helps students navigate two important rites of passage: becoming drivers and becoming employed. Through GROW and our school-to-work programs, they have a real chance of finding their place in the world through authentic work experiences, and the access to digital text promotes lifelong learning.

Do you know any students like these who could benefit from access to Bookshare’s online accessible library? Learn more.

High School Bookshare Member Prepares for Transition to College

2016 February 2

Emeline reading on her tablet in a school room.“It is no longer difficult to find accessible books, and I will use Bookshare for a lifetime,” says Emeline Lakrout.

“Just a few years ago, it was difficult to find accessible books,” says Emeline Lakrout, who has degenerative low vision. “I appreciate that my parents sought reading solutions for me starting at a young age. I have always been able to enjoy reading because of their efforts.”

Now, at age seventeen, Emeline takes honors classes at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas. She is an avid reader and technology user. She Book Cover of Command and Control by Eric Schlosser is interested in all kinds of books and genres, from classics like The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, to historic accounts of the Cold War era like Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, by Eric Schlosser.

In high school, Emeline taps into the Bookshare online accessible library for textbooks, novels, academic research, and test preparation manuals for the SAT, PSAT, ACT, and AP exams. Bookshare is free for all U.S. students with a qualifying print disability. She reads quickly and credits many of her teachers for providing required reading assignments at the beginning of each school semester, especially for her English classes. “This advance notice helps me stay on track with my studies and classmates,” she says.

Emeline uses an iPad with Bookshare’s Read2Go app and a Lenovo tablet with Bookshare’s Go Read – a free, open source Android app that was recently updated with improved layout and font size control, better navigation, access to periodicals and books with images, and more. Both of these technologies include accessibility features that enable her to enlarge the font size or follow along as highlighted words are read aloud. She can change the speed of a voice or place a bookmark on the last page she has read. “These features provide extra support for me,” says Emeline. “I get all my accessible books from Bookshare and plan to use it for a lifetime.”

Now preparing college applications, Emeline intends to study social sciences and likes to explore the online library for titles about careers, business, leadership, politics, and pleasure reading. “Bookshare is really convenient. It has a category of popular books and recommended bestsellers. It is fun to scan through these titles and download a few books for safekeeping. I also read periodicals when I can, like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. It’s like having a reading “backpack” on the go! You don’t need another library resource – just an Individual Membership – and you’ll have all the titles you will want to read.”

ABT 925x377Note to Texas educators:

Did you know that you can get free Bookshare training in your school? The Accessible Books for Texas initiative is an on-the-ground and local training program to provide Texas public K-12 educators, parents, and students training, information, and accessible educational resources through Bookshare. This project is funded by the Texas Education Agency.

Meet the Bookshare Accessible Books for Texas Team at TCEA

2016 January 29
by Bookshare Communications

tceaTCEA – February 1-5, 2016 – Austin, TX

At its annual conference, the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) brings together campus- and district-level educators to explore the role of technology in achieving best practices in teaching and learning.

This year’s conference will feature more than 900 industry expert and peer-led presentations on technology integration across all curricula areas for pre-K through higher education.

Do you support students with print disabilities, such as learning or physical disabilities or visual impairments? Will you be attending TCEA?

The Accessible Books for Texas (ABT) team will be on hand in Booth #1856 to demonstrate how Bookshare can help these students succeed in reading, both in school and beyond. Look for Karen Beard, Matt Hattoon, Katie Sisk and Jeanie Bell. We also invite you to attend these Bookshare presentations at TCEA:

ABT Booth text-to-speechExhibitor Showcase – “Me Too! Tools to Help Students with Reading Barriers Succeed in School”

Wednesday, February 3, 8:00-9:00 a.m.

Location: Room M2

Session Type: 60-minute BYOD

Presenter: Matt Hattoon

Fast, Easy Access to Learning Materials for Students with Print Disabilities

Thursday, February 4, 3:30–5:00 p.m.

Location: Room 8C

Session Type: 90-minute BYOD

Presenter: Karen Beard


Accessible Books for Texas logoTexas educators, be sure to ask about the Accessible Books for Texas initiative. This on-the-ground outreach program provides Texas public K-12 educators, parents, and students with training in how to get the most out of Bookshare.

This project is funded by the Texas Education Agency, and there is no cost to participate. Why not schedule a training session for your school?

Heading to ATIA? Register Now for FREE Bookshare Training Sessions!

2016 January 27
by Bookshare Communications

ATIA logo ATIA – February 2-5, 2016 – Orlando, FL

Attendees of this year’s Assistive Technology Industry Association conference will learn about the latest trends, tools, and best practices in the field of assistive technology that can improve the lives of people with special needs.

To learn more about Bookshare and how you can help students with print disabilities get accessible books and educational materials, we invite you to attend our presentations and training events.

Bookshare Training at ATIA on Friday, February 5th

Register now to reserve your spot in one of the FREE 30-minute Bookshare training sessions throughout the day. There is a session for every user whether you are at a beginning, intermediate, or advanced level. All 30-minute sessions are held in the Boca V room.

Bookshare for Beginners8:00 am & 10:15 am

Learn how Bookshare helps students who face barriers to printed text because of visual impairments and physical and learning disabilities to embrace reading.

Make 2016 the Year of Fast, Easy, Independent Reading8:45 am & 11:00 am

Discover how quickly and easily your students with print disabilities can read thanks to Bookshare’s latest feature. Previously offered only to Individual Members, Bookshare Web Reader is now available to students on an organizational account and is the easiest way for members to read books independently at school and home. Using their own teacher-supplied logins, students simply find their book and select “Read Now” to read instantly in a browser.

Encourage Anywhere, Anytime Reading with Mobile Tools9:30 am & 11:45 am

For many students, using tablets, phones, and other devices is now second nature, and students with print disabilities are no exception. Capitalize on this trend by connecting your students with apps that make accessible reading quick and painless. Come and see how Read2Go, Go Read, and other tools help students read and learn at school, at home, and on the go.

Additional Presentations by Bookshare staff at ATIA:

Also on February, 5th, 2016

  • Enhancing Educational Opportunities for Tactile Learners through 3D Printing  1:00 – 2:00 pm in Caribbean VII.
  • Learning Together: Making All Content Available to Learners with Disabilities  4:30 – 5:30 pm in Caribbean V.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Bookshare Opens World of Knowledge for Sociology PhD Candidate

2016 January 22

Photo of Junia HowellEven as a child, Junia Howell dreamed of new policies that would increase the economic vitality of her impoverished urban neighborhood. Yet, occupations that evaluate and create policies require ample amounts of reading and writing—a challenge for Howell who is severely dyslexic. However, with the support of accessible online libraries like Bookshare, which is free to all U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities, Howell is now pursuing her passion as a Sociology PhD candidate at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

“Audiobooks have been an essential part of my academic access,” says Howell. “In primary school, I would wait by the mail in anticipation of the Library of Congress’ green boxes containing my books on cassette tape. When I got older, I used Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic (now Learning Ally) because of their larger selection.” In 2006, Howell was awarded a Marion Huber Learning Through Listening® scholarship from RFBD. She continues to be grateful. “Without them, I never would have made it this far.”

Book cover of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve SilbermanAs Howell advanced in her studies, classroom materials became more difficult for her to find. She began scanning books and would stand for hours listening to one book while scanning several more. At this time, she learned about Bookshare. “I began to tap into the online accessible library for my research and for materials I use in the classes I teach,” she explains. “I’m amazed at the increasing number of titles I can download and read on my computer using Kurzweil 3000. I continue to find books I’ve wanted to read for a long time but haven’t had time to scan. Now I know what ‘normal’ readers feel like—making decisions about what to read based solely on the book and not the level of accessibility. It is a relief to know that I can access almost any title.”

Howell notes, “I love hearing about new books, especially on NPR’s Fresh Air, and knowing I can access the books on Bookshare.” She recently did this with NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman, a book she says “was not only a good read, but also helped me to better understand my dyslexia and its connection with other neurological disorders.” Other recent titles she has downloaded for her academic work include:

Outside of academia, Howell remains committed to her community. She advises and conducts evaluative research for local nonprofits, teaches short courses at a community center, and mentors young girls—two of whom are dyslexic. “I am humbled by moments when the girls see me as a successful person,” she says. “Like them, I still fight the voice inside my head that says if I can’t read, I must be stupid. So I do what I can to use my story to convey to them that they can be whatever they want to be.”

Photo of Junia HowellRefusing to see dyslexia as a disability, Howell acknowledges that her journey to read has strengthened her capacity to think more creatively and to construct innovative solutions to address sociological problems in her field. At the same time, however, she notes that without audiobooks she could never be where she is today. “Bookshare has opened the world of books for me and for other people with dyslexia. Now I have the tools to work as a professional sociologist. I can continue my quest for knowledge beyond what I ever thought possible and use it to make a difference in the world.”

Do you know someone with a learning disability looking for inspiration?  Share Junia’s story!

Bookshare Takes You to Hallowed Ground for Black History Month

2016 January 18

African-American history can be viewed through many lenses. The people, events, time frame, and historic places have all contributed to the tapestry of our nation’s story. Today, as we celebrate the Book cover for Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Nancy Harrison and Bonnie Baderbirthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let’s also reflect upon the theme for February’s Black History Month: Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories. From the “stations” on the Underground Railroad and the uprising at Harper’s Ferry, to the integration of Little Rock Central High School and the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, these places are deeply embedded in the narrative of African-American history.

We invite you to explore the Bookshare collection and learn more about the lives of Frederick Douglass, Buffalo Soldiers, civil rights activists, and many more figures and places that have defined history.

For elementary school readers:

  • Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Nancy Harrison and Bonnie Bader. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 25 when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was soon organizing black people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights.
  • What Was The Underground Railroad? by Yona Zeldis McDonough, James Bennett and Lauren Mortimer. When enslaved people chose to escape their bondage, who helped them? Where did they go? What dangers did they pass, and what feats of triumph and courage did they perform?
  • Uptown by Bryan Collier. Experience the sights, sounds, and history of Harlem through a child’s eyes.
  • Birmingham 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford. Remembering both the violence and the courage to withstand it experienced by civil rights activists in this crucial time and place.
  • John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry by Brendan January. John Brown hoped to spur a rising among enslaved people with this raiding “army” of eighteen. While he did not succeed in the short term, this event proved to be a crucial milestone on the road to ending slavery in America.

For middle school and young adult readers:

For adult readers:

All ages:

These titles and many more bring history to life for readers of all ages. Download your favorites and go on a journey through time from the slave ships and battlefields through the civil rights movement and struggle for freedom and justice. If you are not yet a Bookshare member, sign up today so you can explore the entire collection of over 380,000 online accessible books.

Students Talk about Accessible Books In Answer to Teacher’s Call to Read

2016 January 11

Head shot of Tanna GallaherTanna Gallaher, a Dyslexia Specialist at Raymond E. Curtis Elementary School in Weatherford, Texas, encourages good reading habits to support lifelong learning. Ms. Gallaher’s motto is to read, read, read, and she advocates for independent reading at school and at home.

Tanna is also a Bookshare Mentor Teacher and encourages parents to sign their student up for an Individual Membership to help them reach and exceed their academic goals.

“It is important that students are able to choose what they are most interested in reading, whether that is fiction, nonfiction, magazines, websites, or other materials,” she says. “I encourage all parents to discuss with their child what he or she likes to read and ask questions often about what they are reading at the present time.”

Taking her motto a step forward, this teacher recently asked her third through fifth graders to write a sentence about using Bookshare on their mobile devices (at home, in class, in the park, or in the car).

Students talk about Bookshare and accessibility features that help them accomplish their teacher’s mission:

Student listening to a book with headphones.“It gives me an example of how I would read fast and lets me choose the speed I listen to.” 

“I like being able to follow along as I listen to the words. Also, when I pause it I can read a word over and over again so I can memorize it.”

“The books are easy or hard, but I like being able to choose.”

“I like being able to read any book I want in my classroom.” 

“I like that my book is right in my pocket! Plus, if I am reading a book and I have trouble with a word, I can just listen to the word I need.”

“Bookshare helps during my class because it helps me remember what I’m reading. When I have trouble reading or cannot figure out a word, it reads it to me. I can understand the words and the story better.”

“Some books don’t have pictures and without pictures I don’t really have as much information. When Bookshare reads the words, I understand the whole story. What would a book be if you didn’t know the words?”

Student reading on a technology device.“I like it when people read to me, so Bookshare has helped because when it reads to me I understand the story better.”

“Bookshare makes reading much smoother and easier. I have been able to read books that I wasn’t able to read before.”

“Normally when I am reading I have a regular speed, but when I come to a word that I don’t know it slows me down. With Bookshare I can listen at one speed and it doesn’t mess up words.”

“Bookshare helped me read faster and I can read in the dark!”

Tanna Gallaher is a Bookshare Mentor Teacher and the 2015 grand prize winner for her efforts to promote Bookshare and lifelong learning in her school throughout the year. Today, eighty percent of her students successfully use technology for independent reading.

“I’ve shared my passion for Bookshare with the dyslexia therapists at six elementary schools and three secondary campuses in the district, and with a lot of teachers, parents, and administrators,” she says. “I will continue to promote the accessible library for reading anytime and anywhere.”

Stay tuned for more great stories of educators, individuals, and students who use Bookshare. Their experiences may inspire you to make new reading resolutions in 2016. Here’s to lifelong learning!