July 2, 2015
Eight-year-old Morgan read a book about space and got more and more excited with each page. She thinks Saturn might be her favorite planet because of its rings, and she believes she might want to be an astronaut one day. “It just seems like it would be a lot of fun,” she said.
Morgan and the other students in the YWCA Central Alabama’s Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) program have been learning about the planets, nocturnal animals, hurricanes and optical illusions, thanks to a new audio-assisted reading program. The students use special audio pens that “read” nonfiction books to the children as they follow along. It’s been such a hit, even struggling readers can’t wait to pick up a book.
“It’s a wonderful tool for reluctant readers,” said Delyne Hicks, senior director of child development services for the YWCA. “For them to have the ability to listen to the text and follow along in a nonfiction book is so beneficial. They’re not just learning to read, they’re reading to learn.”
Students in the SAIL program, which serves children going into grades 1-8 who live with their families in area homeless shelters or transitional housing, don’t have as many opportunities to read during the summer. “This allows them to hear a competent reader read more difficult text than they might read on their own,” Hicks said. “It exposes them to different genres and increases comprehension. It’s like flipping the switch. This is one more way to help meet the needs of our children.”
All Morgan and her friends know is that the reading program is a lot of fun. “It’s really cool,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it when the pen talked. We love the books, and we read them every day.”
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