We first met Jessica Prest, a parent from rural Massachusetts, on Twitter after she posted these tweets about her daughter:
“Lily just finished her first chapter book in five days using Bookshare!”
“A year ago she hated to read. Today she finished a 25 pg. chapter book!”
“My #1in5 #dyslexia #proudmom Thank u @Bookshare!”
So began our quest to learn more about Lily, a young girl who once hated books, but now loves to read them from cover to cover. Jessica, Lily’s mom, describes her daughter as very bright, dynamic, and quite communicative.
“At a young age, Lily talked a lot and used good vocabulary,” said Jessica. “She was initially excited to start school, but her excitement did not last. Within six months, she did not want to go to school anymore.”
Year after year, reading and school got harder for Lily and her family. “While other children were reading at a fourth grade level, Lily fell behind,” adds Jessica. “She didn’t want to read by herself and did not like being placed in a low reading group. Lily didn’t want to be different. When she picked out picture books, her classmates teased her. They would ask, ‘Why are you picking baby books, Lily?’ This made her upset.”
Jessica began to notice a pattern. She took Lily to a neuropsychologist who diagnosed her with dyslexia. Like many Bookshare parents, Jessica began her own research too. She looked for resources and reading support for her daughter and tapped into a wealth of information on Twitter.
“I liked to read educational discussions using the hashtag #edchat,” shared Jessica. “I kept reading about technologies and ebooks and how they supported readers with disabilities, so I asked Lily’s school about Bookshare. I wish I had these tools growing up!”
Lily began using Bookshare at home and eventually got on an IEP (Individual Education Plan) that allowed her to receive reading accommodations at school. Prior to her winter vacation, she brought home a book from the school library called Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu. Her mom also encouraged Lily to get an accessible version of the book and downloaded it from Bookshare onto her iPad mini.
Lily uses an app called Voice Dream that lets her listen to words read aloud and follow along with highlighted text. Jessica said, “She loved the story and could not stop reading it on the iPad. She even asked if she could go to bed early to read. Within five snowy days, Lily had finished her first book!”
“What a difference,” says Jessica. “Daily reading is no longer such a struggle. Ebooks enabled Lily to read and reread the story. It reinforced Lily’s ability to understand what she reads. Now, she loves to read, especially books about horses.”
How easy is Bookshare for students to use?
“Lily can download a book on her own from Bookshare,” says her mom. “She navigates the ebook and sets her own preferences, such as font size, font color and rate of speech. I feel relief. For two years, we struggled for her to read a simple sentence, and now she reads comprehensively. She has made the transition to fourth grade much easier. She is happier! My quest to share this valuable educational resource continues!”
Now passionate about wanting other families to know about Bookshare and technologies that read ebooks, Jessica shares her daughter’s first reading experience with accessible books. She encourages other parents to be patient with a child that is having trouble with reading.
“Don’t give up!” she says. “Read to your child, no matter how old they are and encourage them to read over the summer.”
Are you a parent looking for a fun summer reading activity for your child? Bookshare’s Turn It Up & Tell the World summer reading challenge is going to be a blast and will keep your child reading all summer long. Learn more!
A special thank you to Jessica and Bookshare parents everywhere. We appreciate your stories. Please keep them coming on all the social media channels.