Our classroom serves 9-12 students ages 14-22 with multiple special needs. The students are hard working and bright from a variety of ethnic, economic and family backgrounds. They are bussed from many surrounding cities and towns in two different states because local programs could not provide for their unique combinations of special needs. Although our host school has less than 20% of their students receiving free lunch, more than 50% of our class qualifies for the program. Most of the students are wheelchair users, many are hearing and/or visually impaired and all have some level of communication impairment.
The majority of my students are low-level or non-readers, yet they are excited by literature. Over the years we have read adapted classics such as Les Miserables and Adia and new literature such as the Harry Potter series. Most of my students access literature through test-to-speech technology or recorded books, yet they are limited by the poor enjoyment quality of the voices on text-to-speech, the audiobook holdings of the local library (which are mainly adult books) or the cost of downloading audio books. Additionally, many "young adult" novels are very complex and need to be read aloud versus listened to on audio book so there is someone to help explain the hard parts. That means care selection is need when choosing audio books for independent listening.
Smart Reader adapted recorded books are the perfect selection for independent audio book listening for many of my students. The books are interesting for teens and young adults, with age appropriate subject matter, but the complexity is not overly challenging (it is on a 1st to 4th grade reading level). This allows my students vital access to literature and independence - exactly what they are looking for!
Smart Reader adapted recorded books are not something we can pick up a book at a time at the local book shop or borrow from the library. They have to be ordered from one specific company and that is where you come in. With your generous donation we can order a dozen Smart Readers and listen to over a book a month in the 2008-2009 school year!
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