Tools For Ear Readers

Hi everyone! Emily, from The Literacy Nest (formerly The Reading Tutor/OG) here. I'd like to talk about a phrase called ear reading today. Have you heard of it? Ben Foss, The author of The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan coined the phrase. Ear reading versus just eye reading has many benefits for your struggling readers. Read a quick excerpt from Ben:
The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blue Print to Renew Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning:
A child with dyslexia will never eye-read as well as his peers, and that, I hope to reassure you, is fine. Yet all children need to be exposed to vocabulary and ideas to be successful in school. If your child was blind, providing text as audiobooks or Braille would allow her to read with her ears or with her fingers. No one would ever claim that a blind person was lazy or stupid for not reading text with her eyes. When I listen to audio, that’s ear reading. When I speed it up to four hundred words a minute, four times the pace of standard speech... I am leveling the playing field for me.* It’s not what the mainstream conceives of as reading. But it’s ear reading. It’s learning. It’s literacy.
(Link to Headstrong Nation)

What is ear reading?
Ear reading is simply having access to audio while reading a text. When a slower reader in your class is reading, having the additional audio and any other speech to text technology is a great way to accommodate them. For some people, it may be the only way they will be able to access (read and comprehend) text successfully. That's a pretty powerful statement. You can make this happen for them in your classrooms.

Who benefits?
Think of a child in your class who struggles to learn to read. You may have just asked them to retell events of a story of write a summary. Adding a writing task on top of remembering details they read only while 'eye reading' becomes monumental. Think of adding audio as a way to level the playing field for those children. They'll be able to listen successfully and then be able to complete that oral or written task. When you use audio, you can also train yourself to listen more rapidly by speeding up the text you to. You've heard of people taking speed reading courses, haven't you? Well, why not try speed listening? This may help older students learning to read. Watch a demonstration of it here. DEMO

How do I find audio books?
Since 1 in 5 students in your class are dyslexic, it is imperative to have audio text. If you have grant money or planning your school year budget, investing in audio books, a good listening center,            e readers, and headphones are worth every penny.
  • First, look into two sites: Learning Ally and Bookshare. Call to see if your state has funding money to provide one of these audio book sites in your classroom. Many have, but sometimes schools don't know about it. 
  • Many reading anthology series and text books come with audio CDs and access to read them online. As long as your district has purchased them you should be able to have them in your classroom. 
  • No listening center? Buy a pair of headphones and set a child up at a computer to read. If you have mobile tablets in your classroom, even better. I want to caution you that the voice on some e readers sounds robotic. Your child may not like having to hear a robot voice read to them. (Would you?) Always check if it's an adult with a pleasurable reading voice. 
  • Next, check some of the free sites online. Here is a pin from one of my Pinterest boards to access over 600 free audio books. 
  • Use your local library for books CD.
Have you tried using audio books with your students? How has it helped them? Please share in the  comments. Thank you for stopping by Literacy Land today!


  1. I love audio books! I also sometimes record texts using my phone and then have students to listen to the mp3 file for things I cannot get already made.

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  2. One of the schemes we subscribe to has ebooks that the children can access at home and we use them for independent reading during guided reading. All of the books for beginning or struggling readers can be heard read aloud and it really does mean they enjoy reading them a lot more. I'll have to check out your pinterest board to find more - thank!
    Growing Little Learners