Audiobooks Spark Learning in
San Marcos CISD
by Nelda Reyes
If you had to struggle to decode every word you ever read, wouldn’t you tire of reading? I would. For some of my students, each word on a printed page can be a challenge to decipher. Over time, reading difficulties leave students feeling inadequate, underperforming, and frustrated. Without he right reading accommodations and tiered interventions, they will statistically fall behind and
I am an elementary teacher and dyslexia interventionist for De Zavala Elementary School in San
Marcos CISD. My students are bright, underprivileged youngsters who are not good readers. I am their
champion to find strategies and resources to overcome their reading barriers. I am the teacher who reminds people that children who cannot read well are not “dumb” or “lazy.” Their brains just do not
process information like an average reader’s.
The Audiobook Strategy
Human-read audiobooks are at the heart of my strategy to support struggling readers. Some teachers and parents are skeptical about the power of audiobooks. They ask me, “Is my child really learning
when they are listening to a book read aloud?” The answer is YES!
A thoughtful human narrator with the right intonation and accurate phrasing can heighten the
senses of a struggling reader. I have seen children break through the unending burden of decoding words
to read with ease and comprehend what they read. I have heard children request more books just so they
can hear different voices inspire them.
Many of my students score above average on the STAAR exams. They have become independent
learners who are confident and prepared. Some have made the honor roll, received certificates, and are in
the top 10 in their classes—all great achievements.
Diving Into Digital Learning
A few years ago, I decided to dive into digital learning. Our school did not have funding for technology devices, but I managed to get my hands on two Kindles. At that time, Kindles did not support the
Learning Ally resource, but a media specialist knew how to “jelly” the devices to work.
I handed the devices to two elementary students with stories they would never be able to read in
print. Just like that, a nurturing and caring human voice made a real emotional connection with my
students. They understood the story. You could see real passion on their faces.
This was a game-changer. I needed more devices, so I made a video of students who were excited
about reading with audiobooks and told their story in their own words. This video was a hit with our
school principal and the school board. We got devices.