This summer, eight-year old Correy Crawford read more than 114 digital accessible books through the Bookshare Summer Reading Roadtrip Contest, a reading program developed for children with print disabilities. Correy was one of 350 youngsters and teens who participated in the contest. He is dyslexic and finds it difficult to decode words, especially vowels. He can read digital accessible books from Bookshare, an online library with over 90,000 books, because the free Bookshare software he uses to read highlights words and reads them aloud simultaneously. This multimodal combination of letters and sounds helps with decoding.
Laurie Crawford, Correy’s mom, feels that Bookshare’s reading contest opened up new interests for her young son. “His reading skills have increased, along with his vocabulary and self-confidence,” she said. “He also loves mysteries now. I think his problem-solving skills have improved because of his enthusiasm to solve crimes.”
During the contest, Correy read books from a recommended reading list provided by Bookshare and the National Education Association (NEA). Students selected books about the U.S. 50 states and sent text messages to Bookshare about what they read and learned through their virtual road trip. The students who sent the most texts and read the most books became eligible to win prizes. “It’s cool to get the books I want to read,” shared Correy. “I haven’t found many accessible books at my school or library.”
Correy liked reading about how the U.S. Capitol was built in Washington D.C. and the construction of the New York subway, a place he visited with his family. He read lots of fiction and began to love mysteries like the Box Car Children and Nancy Drew. His favorite book, Cricket in Times Square, brought back memories of his visit to NY, where he really enjoyed riding the subway.
Through the contest, this youngster discovered that being a Member of Bookshare gave him the freedom to select the digital books he wanted to read and the independence to download them and use technology. Previously, he would rely more on his brother and mom. “I can download the books myself!” he said.
Recently he read the new Nancy Drew series about a girl detective. He discussed the story with his friend, Sarah. They compared the original series to the latest contemporary edition. Mrs. Crawford said that seeing her son discussing books with a friend is a wonderful sight! “He is reading typical age-related books and talking with friends,” she said. “His social skills have grown from the reading experiences.”
This school year, Correy is entering the third grade. His mom wants him to use Bookshare at school. She has talked with several teachers and told them about this free online educational resource and the membership options. She wants to know about Correy’s required reading assignments so that she can look for the books on Bookshare. With a better understanding of how to download accessible books and use the free assistive technology reading software, Mrs. Crawford hopes her son’s reading skills will improve and he will be less frustrated due to his disability.
In the meantime, Correy continues to expand his love of reading. He also has lots of ideas about what he wants to be when he grows up. He says he might go to college and be a bus driver, teacher, architect or the President. “If I become the president, then the White House will be full of cats,” he shared.
Mrs. Crawford learned about the summer reading contest through a quarterly newsletter, the Bookshare Bulletin, and signed her son up right away. “He is anxiously awaiting the news of the contest winners,” she said. “He worked very hard this summer to read books and text his thoughts. I hope he wins. He would get a lot of use from an iPod – there’s no telling what he might do next.”