Quick Guide: How to Effectively Promote Literacy in the New Year
We know that everyone is busy. With family, school, work and community responsibilities, invariably many things are sometimes moved to a "back burner." In the New Year, we all too often make plans or resolutions to re-address those back-burner items on our lists and follow through with their completion. What about your plans for more and better literacy in the New Year? Have they been placed on a back burner in recent years because of other duties? Has there been just too much to read or has screen time taken over in your life and that of your family?
Well, this can be the year to change all that---not only for your own personal literacy, but also for your family's literacy as well as literacy in your school, your workplace and in your community. We can show you how, too, with some relatively easy tips to make it happen. Happy Reading AND Happy New Year to everyone!
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Home
1. Read to Them Daily! It’s never too early to read aloud to your child. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to children in infancy! This special time actually promotes healthy brain development and serves to bond parent and child closer together.
2. Read in Front of Them, too. – If parents “practice what they preach” about the importance of reading, it sends a loud and clear message to their kids that reading is, in fact, valuable.
3. Create Space for Reading and Writing. One way parents can make literacy appealing to children is by providing an inviting place to read and write. A desk with pens, pencils, markers and paper nearby will encourage your little one to hone his writing skills. A small bookshelf filled with books, with a comfy beanbag close by, will promote reading.
4. Take Advantage of Windows of Opportunity. Parents should look for natural opportunities throughout the day to support literacy development. Have your kiddo write the shopping list for you, read the traffic signs as you drive, and name all the things in the kitchen that start with the letter R.
5. Be Involved with Your Child's Homework. If your little one is school-age, then be available to help with homework. Children often feel overwhelmed and unsure about their assignments. Your presence can help to alleviate their anxiety as well as remind them that you place a high value on their education.
For MORE Literacy Tips for Your Home, click here.
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your School
1. Set aside time for independent reading. Time for reading independently doesn’t just happen. Plan for it by making it a priority in schedules across K-12 classrooms. You may need to get creative by stealing minutes here and there, but find at least 15 minutes a day (20 recommended) for self-selecting, independent reading.
2. Create Literacy-Rich Environments in every K-12 Classroom. A literacy-rich environment – full of print, word walls, books, and reading materials – not only supports the Common Core standards, but also provides a setting that encourages and supports speaking, listening, reading, and writing in a variety of authentic ways – through print & digital media. Make it a priority for every K-12 classroom to be an inviting, print-rich environment that supports independent reading and student learning.
3. Support High-Quality Classroom Libraries. Students need access to interesting books and materials – both in print and online. When students are provided with well-designed classroom libraries, they interact more with books, spend more time reading, exhibit more positive attitudes toward reading, and exhibit higher levels of reading achievement (NAEP, 2002). Additionally, research-based classroom libraries support balanced literacy instruction. Support teachers in building classroom libraries through budget dollars, grants, and book drives.
4. Encourage Read Alouds. In the Becoming a Nation of Readers report (1985), experts reported that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” Not only did the experts suggest reading aloud in the home, but they also suggested reading aloud in schools. Read alouds not only allow teachers to model that reading is a great way to spend time, but also exposes students to more complex vocabulary than they typically hear or read. Remember to read to older students, too. Occasionally reading more difficult text aloud provides opportunity for rich discussion and vocabulary development.
5. Create a “Caught Reading” Campaign that features Teachers as Readers. Creating a school-wide reading culture is important to promote reading as a lifestyle. Students need to see their teachers as readers. Create posters of teachers and staff reading their favorite books and display them in hallways throughout the schools. You can also produce bookmarks that feature teacher’s favorite book picks to help guide students as they select books for independent reading.
For MORE Literacy Tips for School, click here.
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Workplace
1. Start a Book Basket in Your Office. If you do not have a basket you can use a box or bin instead. Make sure you place it in a high traffic area, such as the mail room, the lunch area, or where everyone signs in and out. The idea is that these books are easily accessible by any colleague in order to promote leisurely reading. Bring a few books that are laying around your house that you have already read and donate them to your workplace. Everyone can take a book as long as they promise to bring at least one back to share. When the book has been read, it should be brought back so someone else can enjoy. This will also hopefully inspire some collaboration and discussion about the books.
2. Write a Weekly Reflection or Newsletter. Writing is a great way to reflect on what has happened and can help you plan out for the days or weeks to come. It also provides a sense of accomplishment once you realize all the things have been completed. This is also a great vehicle for mention of a favorite book or article read by you or a co-worker. It can keep everyone at work in the literacy loop!
3. Practice Reading or Writing Yoga. Read or write silently for at least ten minutes per day. You can easily turn your workplace into a relaxing yoga studio by dimming the lights or adding party or holiday lights. Turn on a wax burner or oil diffuser to stimulate your nostrils (as per office or workplace policies, of course). Play some instrumental music to set the tone and perhaps bring a rug, beanbag, or pillows to allow you to get more comfortable. You can even brew some hot tea or make some hot chocolate to stimulate your taste buds, too! This environment will really help relax all your senses and provide somewhat of a mental break from the stress and workload that you may be faced with each day. Try it out! You and your colleagues will be amazed on how energized and relaxed you will feel afterwards.
4. Write a Thank You Note. Many times we get caught up with work that we forgot to thank those around us. We take for granted those people that mean the most to us and those whose work goes unnoticed. Take a few minuets to write a small thank you note to someone that you work with that has done something for you or that rarely gets noticed for their hard work (the janitors, cafeteria ladies, security guards, and secretaries are a great place to start). I guarantee this small act of kindness will mean the world to whomever you deliver it to. Let them know that you care and you are grateful to work alongside them.
5. Create a Book Club in Your Office. Get a group of colleagues to commit to read a book that everyone agrees upon and set weekly or monthly expectations for what should be read. Try to meet over breakfast, lunch, or happy hour to discuss. If everyone is crunched for time, you can start a slow twitter chat and pose questions to each other regarding the book.
6. Start a Gratitude Jar. Take some time to write down what you are thankful for on some Post-It Notes. Keep them in a plastic or glass jar and place it near your computer or someplace in your office were it is easily noticeable as a daily reminder to constantly write and add to our growing gratitude jar.
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Community
1. Educate Yourself and Others by Researching Literacy Websites. Start by researching some of the online resources available to you and then share them on social media or anywhere else you think they will help. Some are comprehensive directories that can help you identify help in your own community.
2. Volunteer at Your Local Literacy Council. Your local literacy council is there to help adults learn to read, do math, learn a new language, anything literacy and numeracy related. They can also help children keep up with reading in school. Staff members are trained and reliable. Participate by becoming a volunteer or by explaining the services to someone you know who might benefit from them.
3. Find Your Local Adult Education Classes for Someone Who Needs Them. Your literacy council and/or your local community college will have information about adult education classes in your area. If not, simply search online or ask at your local library. If your own county doesn't offer adult education classes, which would be surprising, check the next closest county, or contact your state education department. Every state has one.
4. Ask for Reading Primers at Your Local Library. Your local county library has resources available and can recommend special books to assist you in helping a friend learn to read. Books on beginning readers are sometimes called primers (pronounced primmer). Some are designed especially for adults to avoid the embarrassment of having to learn by reading children's books. Learn about all of the resources available to you. The library is always an excellent place to start.
5. Hire a Private Tutor for a Challenged Reader. Give the gift of reading to someone who needs it. It can be very embarrassing for an adult to admit that he or she cannot read or work simple calculations. If the thought of attending adult education classes freaks someone out, private tutors are always available. Your literacy council or library are probably your best places to find a trained tutor who will respect the student's privacy and anonymity. What a wonderful gift to give someone who won't otherwise seek help.
10 Tips to Promote Literacy at Home by Jennifer Campbell, Red Apple Reading Blog
25 Ways Schools Can Promote Literacy And Independent Reading by TeachThought
Promoting Literacy in the Workplace posted by Alejandra Guzman, High Five Science
5 Ways to Improve Adult Literacy by ThoughtCo.
BEST Book Gift Combos for Challenged Readers
Books are priceless gifts that can open doors for children that they might not otherwise have opened to them. Stories teach important lessons, provide "travel" to faraway lands and introduce children to characters that inspire and remain in their hearts for years to come. So, when it is time to think of a great gift for a child you love, think no further than a favorite book to help him remember your special thoughtfulness. Whether it is to commemorate a birthday, the Holiday Season or other important event, give a book, and chances are, you will hear about your gift often and for a long time to come.
You may wonder, "But what about a child who struggles to read or has challenges that make reading more difficult for him?" Please don't stop thinking about books as worthy gifts if this is the case. In fact, giving a book to a child with a reading challenge like dyslexia or other LD such as ADHD, autism, etc., can actually provide you with an opportunity to present an audio-book or a traditional selection accompanied by helpful reading tools. So, don't hesitate to consider the gift of one of these options that will make a child of any age smile.
Book & Tool Gift Sets for Challenged Readers/Learners
Consider choosing a title with a main character that struggles with the very same reading challenge the child experiences. There are more children's books than ever before that demonstrate just how to manage and even overcome many reading and learning issues. Some attack dyslexia or ADHD head on while others infer an academic or other struggle. Whatever the case, when a child reads about a character who experiences the same issues and feelings he has, it can be the first step to helping to deal with that issue. Combine the title with helpful tools or reading aids, and you have an ideal gift option for a child who wants to read and learn with more success.
During this Holiday Season, we have gathered together a very special grouping of favorite children's selections
for a variety of age groups to help you with gift giving. With books like these that are paired with innovative reading tools
, not only will you be encouraging a child to read, but you will also help provide support, enjoyment, inspiration and improved self-esteem for that child. Of course, being a genuine supporter of literacy and life-long learning will be a wonderful benefit, as well. And there is always the very good chance that the child will ask for another book to read just like the mouse with the cookie and the glass of milk. Happy "Reading" Holidays, everyone!
(ages 6-8) by Sara Pennypacker
- My Name is Brain Brian
(ages 8-12) by Jeanne Betancourt
- My Mouth Is a Volcano!
(ages 5-8) by Julia Cook
- Tom's Special Talent - Dyslexia
(ages 5-7) by Kate Gaynor
- Fish in a Tree
(ages 10+) by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
- The Alphabet War: A Story about Dyslexia
(ages 5-7) by Diane Burton Robb
- The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 1)
(ages 9+) R. Riordan
- It's Called Dyslexia (Live and Series)
(ages 6-9) by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
For more information on customizable reading tools for ADHD and/or dyslexia, please visit: FocusandRead.com
---Tools for readers of all ages!
Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC
2 Literacy Apps That Work TOGETHER to Help ADHD & Dyslexic Readers Succeed!
With these 2 desktop apps in your tech toolbox, you'll be ready to support even more challenged readers!
Children and adults who struggle to read, especially individuals with ADHD and dyslexia, have many more options available to them today than they did only a few years ago. Now, there are many assistive technologies possible that were not even dreamed about a decade ago
. Today, both higher-level tech resources and low-tech tools can offer much help for unfocused or otherwise challenged readers.
Some of these technologies can even be combined in order to better help the estimated 1 in 5 persons in the U.S. challenged with dyslexia
or the 8 to 13%
(depending on the state) of school-aged children in our country who have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorders
(ADHD). These individuals can find it particularly difficult to focus, track, concentrate, comprehend and retain information when reading, especially for extended periods or when many pages of digital text must be read at a time.
One of the most popular and easily recognizable technologies to help these challenged readers is Amazon's Kindle
, the well-known e-reader launched in late 2007 that has been most disruptive
to the publishing world. The Kindle
technology enables readers to eliminate glare with a unique screen, diminish the starkness of white page backgrounds behind dark, virtual text, manipulate font or text sizes and more to assist persons with various reading issues.
Turn Your Computer into a Kindle with This App from Amazon!
If this upfront cost is prohibitive, readers should seriously consider downloading the FREE Kindle
app to your desktop or laptop, whether it is a Mac or Windows PC (the app is also available for other tech devices as well via the same web page). It costs nothing to turn one's computer into a virtual Kindle
and then immediately allows the individual to purchase e-books from Amazon.com for download directly to your computer. Kindle
app download link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page/
Add The Reading Focus Cards Desktop App to the Kindle App & Watch What Happens on Your Desktop!
For challenged readers who often struggle with focus and attention, tracking, comprehension and retention, it would be hard to beat the combination of the Kindle app
AND an innovative application called the Reading Focus Cards desktop app
(Patent 8,360,779) for Macs and Windows PC's. If you know a challenged student or other struggling reader with ADHD or dyslexia, this 2-app combination can enable that individual to experience more comfortably focused, sustained and successful reading of e-books or other digital media.
When in use, the virtual
Reading Focus Card actually floats on top
AND stays on top of
e-book pages or any underlying application to more easily read a web page, Word or PDF document, Excel spreadsheet, e-book or other digital media.
If readers become overwhelmed with too much text
on a digital page of an e-book, the Reading Focus Cards
app directs the eye to what needs to be read WHILE covering as much or as little of the surrounding text as selected by the reader. Nearly an entire digital e-book page can be covered to improve focus on the text line needing attention.
Reading Focus Cards
desktop app download links:
Mac version: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-and-focus/id920617853?mt=12
Windows XP, 7, 8 & 10 versions: https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards
Windows 10 version only: https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9WZDNCRDF33D
The Reading Focus Cards desktop app
will allow you to:
– Infinitely configure
Reading Focus Card’s features to improve your focus & attention
, decoding skills
, reading rate
– Easily move the virtual Reading Focus Card over an underlying e-book or other application
on the screen with a touchpad, mouse, arrow keys or even with your fingers, where touch technology is applicable.
– With this app's pop-up Toolbox
, independently customize the color
, level of transparency
of both the virtual
Reading Window and Reading Card, respectively, to provide more reading comfort
and block out distractions
, keeping you focused on the text you need to read.
Reading Focus Card to accommodate very large fonts or extensive paragraphs
, if you choose!
– Never worry about the virtual
Reading Focus Card disappearing from the screen unexpectedly, even when using it with the Kindle
app or other underlying programs! It floats on top
AND stays on top
of your computer screen, so you can scroll through e-book pages as well as read documents without interruption. You decide when to close the application.
Currently, mobile devices are unable to successfully support this unique, overlay-type Reading Focus Cards
app that stays on top of and moves independently of the underlying media applications.
Now, readers of any age and ability can improve their focus to read e-books as well as other digital media in greater comfort and with much more reading success. It is now possible with the combination of these 2 great apps, the Kindle app
for Macs and Windows PC's AND the Reading Focus Cards desktop app
Happy Reading---now for everyone!
By the Numbers: 120+ Amazing Amazon Statistics (2016)
by Craig Smith, of DMR
e-Book Statistics Update
from Writing for Life
Research-Based Literacy Tool – Helpful App for Struggling Readers
by Jayne Clare, of Teachers With Apps
Reading Focus Cards Desktop App
---Patent 8,360,779 (for Macs & PC's)
OR visit the Mac App Store and search for the Reading Focus Cards
Windows PC's: https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards
OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the Reading Focus Cards
. (No URLs provided for apps in the Windows Store.)
for Macs, Windows PC's & Other Tech Devices
by Charles Dickens
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations
. A Public Domain Book. N.p. N.d. e-Book.
This is the e-book available via Amazon.com used for the screenshots in this article.
MORE Helpful Resources for the Autism Community
In June 2015, we had the pleasure of publishing an article for the autism community that was written by one of its members, Ms. Kathleen Carter. She is challenged with Asperger’s Syndrome and authored the article in this blog entitled Empowering Resources for Persons of ALL Ages with Autism
Once again, we are pleased to publish here Ms, Carter's latest collection of resources for the autism community. As our readers may know, there is a wide range of ways and levels in which people are affected by autism. Because of this, nearly every autism resource has the potential to significantly impact the quality of life for many on the spectrum.
Many of our readers may have witnessed firsthand the very helpful benefits of service dogs, but did you know that these very special dogs can be profoundly beneficial for autistic persons? Ms. Carter has told us that she herself will soon begin working with an autism service dog, and she wants to spread the good word about the positive impact these animals can have for those on the autism spectrum. In addition to the service-dog links included in her list below, Ms. Carter and we have also included other resources that may help the individuals who need them. We, too, hope our readers who work hard to serve persons on the autism spectrum will find them to be helpful in their good efforts.
Thank you, Ms. Kathleen Carter, for providing this great list of resources!
4 Paws For Ability
The Life-Changing Impact of Autism Service Dogs
Stress & Anxiety Reduction | Autism Research Institute
How to Handle the 4 Most Challenging Autism Behaviors
The Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759):
Physical Reading Tools for Challenged Readers
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
Sensory-appealing and customizable reading tools and solutions for challenged readers of all ages. Made in the U.S.A.
Reading Focus Cards Digital Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779)
---for Macs & Windows PCs (Price: $5.99)
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
This desktop app for Windows PCs and Macs is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. The app provides practical support for children and adults with autism, ADHD, dyslexia and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more focused reading of digital media---whether online or offline. The application floats on top AND stays on top of any other underlying application.
A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder
Source for image: http://rlv.zcache.com/autism_puzzle_ribbon_awareness_poster-r447c6ac7647142f0ae07364edc5fe352_xzptb_8byvr_512.jpg
Empowering Resources for Persons of ALL Ages with Autism
We believe that the right tools, strategies and resources can significantly improve
one’s reading and learning success, especially when reading and learning can be difficult for someone with ADHD, dyslexia and other issues.
If you or someone you know is challenged with autism, however, the importance of those tools, strategies and resources may be even more important in efforts to improve the quality of life. You may already know about the low-tech and digital Reading Focus Cards, effective tools
that help challenged, unfocused readers with autism and sensory issues. We also provide a free list of reading and learning strategies and accommodations
to help persons of any age with autism. The list can be found on this website.
For this article, we wanted to address the third component---resources that can actually help to EMPOWER persons with autism
to become more confident, more socially interactive and better able to overcome their obstacles. In our efforts to write this article, we have received the assistance of Ms. Kathleen Carter
, a high-school student with Asperger's (autism) and volunteer-intern-extraordinaire at EducatorLabs. She assists the organization with its research and outreach activities.
Ms. Carter has kindly provided the first six empowering
resources in our list included here. We want to thank her for these good resources for autism. We have added a few more links to the list and hope that because of our combined efforts, these resources may help you or others you know in the autism community to feel empowered to become more confident
, more comfortable in social situations
and more independent
in overcoming the challenges of autism---each and every day!
Empowering Resources for Persons with Autism
1. Autism Speaks Resource Guide
2. Career Assistance for People with Autism
3. National Center for Autism Resources & Education
4. AutismNOW Transition Planning
5. Aquatic Therapy for Children with Autism
7. Equine Therapy Programs for Children with Asperger's and Autism
8. Autism Resources from Easter Seals
9. Family Grant Opportunities
(for Therapy, Assistive Technology, etc.)
10. Resources - Solutions to Problems in the Autism Community---US Autism & Asperger Association
11. BEST Apps for Sensory Processing Issues
(iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
12. BEST Apps for Autism-2015
(iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
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