Friday, May 10, 2013

Highlighting Audiobooks Makes It Easy to Follow Along

We often recommend that struggling readers make use of audiobooks. Listening to books does more than simply allow weak readers to access information. The benefits of audiobooks are many and varied: they expose listeners to literary language, improve decoding skills and word recognition, increase vocabulary, and model fluent oral reading. We have an extensive list of audiobook resources on our website - and recently collaborated with Learning Ally, a nonprofit which is among the leading producers of audiobooks for students with learning challenges (as well as visual impairment).

Of course, decoding skills and word recognition are best improved when a listener follows along with a written text. Seeing the word while hearing it can enforce a student’s letter-sound associations and sight word recognition. But following along can be difficult for struggling or emerging readers.

Fortunately, there are several services that highlight each word of a digital book as it is read by the device. In this format, the reader listens while looking at an electronic version of the text on a mobile phone, tablet, or computer. The audio track is synced with the words on the page so that each word is highlighted as it is read, allowing readers to follow along easily. Here are a few of our favorite options:

For Beginning Readers

  • A subscription to the One More Story website allows readers to choose from a large library of quality picture books. Little readers can listen to and read along with a book of their choosing; favorites like The Snowy Day, Stellaluna, The Poky Little Puppy, How I Became a Pirate, and many more are displayed on digital pages with the original illustrations. For kids who are ready, echo reading mode is available, and kids can choose to hear tough words read aloud for them with a click of the mouse.

For Everyone

  • Amazon’s partnership with has yielded Immersion Reading for Kindle Fire users. After purchasing the Kindle and Audible versions of a book, readers can simply tap the Play icon to begin the professional narration, and words on the screen will be highlighted for them in real time as they listen. All Kindle Fire devices come with this capability. Visit Audible’s FAQ page  for more information.
  • Users of the accessible media distributor Bookshare can purchase an app called Read2Go to enable real-time highlighting of any book in Bookshare’s library as they listen. The app can be used on any iDevice.

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