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.
- Also subscription-based, Lerner Publishing offers a collection of 237 interactive, highlighting books for readers from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. Lerner’s digital library lacks the beloved picture books you’ll find at your local bookstore; instead, their offerings are illustrated, cross-curricular books with titles like Do You Know About Amphibians? and A Mink, a Fink, and a Skating Rink: What is a Noun? Still, most of the text is entertaining and the pictures are both appealing and instructive. Quizzes in the form of games or interactive activities are available at the end of each book.
- Amazon’s partnership with Audible.com 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.