Friday, December 28, 2018

Have You Made Your "Reading Resolutions" for the New Year?

It's no secret that on a few days remain of the old year and a new year is fast approaching. With that new year, many will be making their annual resolutions to improve themselves, whether it be improvements in mind, body or soul. We hope you are considering and beginning to formulate your own New Year's resolutions in the coming days, especially those that will help improve your educational or learning progress in the year ahead. One of the best ways to do this might just be increasing your daily reading time, whether it is for learning content or for leisure. Spending time with a book is always a good thing---for adults as well as children and teens. Trade some of those screen-time minutes (or even hours!) for time with a favorite book or magazine related to your field of expertise or profession. Promise yourself to crack open a book of poetry from one of the masters of the 19th Century.

There are a variety of ways to increase your "book time" in the months ahead. Some ways might even positively impact not only your literacy life but also those of your family or your circle of friends. We want to be a literacy catalyst for our readers and help motivate and inspire many to pick up a book or turn on an e-reader rather than the TV. We hope this list of ideas will get you on the road to becoming a bonafide literacy catalyst in your family, school, workplace and community. That way, we will ALL have a great New Year with these new reading resolutions!

Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Home

1. Read to Them Daily! It’s never too early to read aloud to your child. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to children in infancy! This special time actually promotes healthy brain development and serves to bond parent and child closer together.

2. Read in Front of Them, too! If parents “practice what they preach” about the importance of reading, it sends a loud and clear message to their kids that reading is, in fact, valuable.

3. Create Space for Reading and Writing. One way parents can make literacy appealing to children is by providing an inviting place to read and write. A desk with pens, pencils, markers and paper nearby will encourage your little one to hone his writing skills. A small bookshelf filled with books, with a comfy beanbag close by, will promote reading.

4. Take Advantage of Windows of Opportunity. Parents should look for natural opportunities throughout the day to support literacy development. Have your kiddo write the shopping list for you, read the traffic signs as you drive, and name all the things in the kitchen that start with the letter R.

5. Be Involved with Your Child's Homework. If your little one is school-age, then be available to help with homework. Children often feel overwhelmed and unsure about their assignments. Your presence can help to alleviate their anxiety as well as remind them that you place a high value on their education.

6. Visit the Library Often! Frequent visits to your public library go a long way in nurturing literacy growth in your child. Take advantage of story hours, book borrowing, and other activities offered by your local library branch.

7. Celebrate Successes with Your Child. Everyone likes a pat on the back every now and then. Be sure to celebrate when your kiddo spells a hard word correctly, finishes her book, or writes her name for the first time!

8. Turn Off the Television. Kids often need a little extra encouragement to pick up a book or pencil and paper. Parents can help this process by turning off the television at certain hours of the day. You may be surprised at what your kid finds to do once the TV is off!

9. Play Around with Words Young children learn best when playing. Provide toys that encourage literacy development. These don’t need to be the latest tech toys with all the bells and whistles. Simple toys like ABC blocks and Lincoln Logs will offer plenty of learning stimulation!

Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your School

1. Set aside time for independent reading. Time for reading independently doesn’t just happen. Plan for it by making it a priority in schedules across K-12 classrooms. You may need to get creative by stealing minutes here and there, but find at least 15 minutes a day (20 recommended) for self-selecting, independent reading.

2. Create Literacy-Rich Environments in every K-12 Classroom. A literacy-rich environment – full of print, word walls, books, and reading materials – not only supports the Common Core standards, but also provides a setting that encourages and supports speaking, listening, reading, and writing in a variety of authentic ways – through print & digital media. Make it a priority for every K-12 classroom to be an inviting, print-rich environment that supports independent reading and student learning.

3. Support High-Quality Classroom Libraries. Students need access to interesting books and materials – both in print and online. When students are provided with well-designed classroom libraries, they interact more with books, spend more time reading, exhibit more positive attitudes toward reading, and exhibit higher levels of reading achievement (NAEP, 2002). Additionally, research-based classroom libraries support balanced literacy instruction. Support teachers in building classroom libraries through budget dollars, grants, and book drives.

4. Encourage Read Alouds. In the Becoming a Nation of Readers report (1985), experts reported that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” Not only did the experts suggest reading aloud in the home, but they also suggested reading aloud in schools. Read alouds not only allow teachers to model that reading is a great way to spend time, but also exposes students to more complex vocabulary than they typically hear or read. Remember to read to older students, too. Occasionally reading more difficult text aloud provides opportunity for rich discussion and vocabulary development.

5. Create a “Caught Reading” Campaign that features Teachers as Readers. Creating a school-wide reading culture is important to promote reading as a lifestyle. Students need to see their teachers as readers. Create posters of teachers and staff reading their favorite books and display them in hallways throughout the schools. You can also produce bookmarks that feature teacher’s favorite book picks to help guide students as they select books for independent reading.

6. Invite Guest Readers into Classrooms. What better way to promote reading than by having guest readers read aloud to students. Invite parents and community members to select a book or article to read aloud and discuss with students. You can even make it fun by announcing them as “mystery readers” and providing clues during the week to create anticipation for the guest reader.

7. Encourage Students to Read Widely. Sometimes students get in a rut and don’t read beyond their favorite genre or author. Encourage students to read outside of their preferred genres. To build a wide vocabulary and broad background knowledge, students need to read in a wide variety of genres and text types. Through book talks, read alouds, and book displays, open students’ eyes to new authors, genres, and text types.

8. Create a Twitter Hashtag for Sharing Books. Move beyond traditional books reviews by creating a schoolwide Twitter #hashtag such as #GESTitleTalk or #PS41FavBookswhere students and teachers write super short reviews and highlights of recently read books. In addition, the librarian can create interest in books by posting new titles on the school hashtag. Teachers can create a classroom hashtag, too, such as #4thReads.

9. Host Book Clubs for Students and Parents. A community of readers sometimes happens naturally; however, book clubs are a perfect way to foster connectivity around books and reading. Students can even host their own book clubs within a classroom, grade level, or school. Reading is important for parents, too. Host a book club at school or online to help create an adult community of readers and build strong parental support for reading. “Books and Bagels” can be a perfect duo for an early morning book club.

10. Financially Support School Libraries. In an era of tightening budgets, the school library/media center needs to continue receiving financial support. While classroom libraries are vitally important to a balanced literacy program, media centers are as well. Each serves a distinctly different purpose in supporting readers. And, media centers should be staffed by licensed librarians who are experts in both children’s literature and how to build and maintain a high-quality collection that supports independent reading, research, and instruction.

For MORE Literacy Tips for School, click here.

Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Workplace

1. Start a Book Basket in Your Office. If you do not have a basket you can use a box or bin instead. Make sure you place it in a high traffic area, such as the mail room, the lunch area, or where everyone signs in and out. The idea is that these books are easily accessible by any colleague in order to promote leisurely reading. Bring a few books that are laying around your house that you have already read and donate them to your workplace. Everyone can take a book as long as they promise to bring at least one back to share. When the book has been read, it should be brought back so someone else can enjoy. This will also hopefully inspire some collaboration and discussion about the books.

2. Write a Weekly Reflection or Newsletter. Writing is a great way to reflect on what has happened and can help you plan out for the days or weeks to come. It also provides a sense of accomplishment once you realize all the things have been completed. This is also a great vehicle for mention of a favorite book or article read by you or a co-worker. It can keep everyone at work in the literacy loop!

3. Practice Reading or Writing Yoga. Read or write silently for at least ten minutes per day. You can easily turn your workplace into a relaxing yoga studio by dimming the lights or adding party or holiday lights. Turn on a wax burner or oil diffuser to stimulate your nostrils (as per office or workplace policies, of course). Play some instrumental music to set the tone and perhaps bring a rug, beanbag, or pillows to allow you to get more comfortable. You can even brew some hot tea or make some hot chocolate to stimulate your taste buds, too! This environment will really help relax all your senses and provide somewhat of a mental break from the stress and workload that you may be faced with each day. Try it out! You and your colleagues will be amazed on how energized and relaxed you will feel afterwards.

4. Write a Thank You Note. Many times we get caught up with work that we forgot to thank those around us. We take for granted those people that mean the most to us and those whose work goes unnoticed. Take a few minuets to write a small thank you note to someone that you work with that has done something for you or that rarely gets noticed for their hard work (the janitors, cafeteria ladies, security guards, and secretaries are a great place to start). I guarantee this small act of kindness will mean the world to whomever you deliver it to. Let them know that you care and you are grateful to work alongside them.

5. Create a Book Club in Your Office. Get a group of colleagues to commit to read a book that everyone agrees upon and set weekly or monthly expectations for what should be read. Try to meet over breakfast, lunch, or happy hour to discuss. If everyone is crunched for time, you can start a slow twitter chat and pose questions to each other regarding the book.

6. Start a Gratitude Jar. Take some time to write down what you are thankful for on some Post-It Notes. Keep them in a plastic or glass jar and place it near your computer or someplace in your office were it is easily noticeable as a daily reminder to constantly write and add to our growing gratitude jar.

Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Community

1. Educate Yourself and Others by Researching Literacy Websites. Start by researching some of the online resources available to you and then share them on social media or anywhere else you think they will help. Some are comprehensive directories that can help you identify help in your own community.

2. Volunteer at Your Local Literacy Council. Your local literacy council is there to help adults learn to read, do math, learn a new language, anything literacy and numeracy related. They can also help children keep up with reading in school. Staff members are trained and reliable. Participate by becoming a volunteer or by explaining the services to someone you know who might benefit from them.

3. Find Your Local Adult Education Classes for Someone Who Needs Them. Your literacy council and/or your local community college will have information about adult education classes in your area. If not, simply search online or ask at your local library. If your own county doesn't offer adult education classes, which would be surprising, check the next closest county, or contact your state education department. Every state has one.

4. Ask for Reading Primers at Your Local Library. Your local county library has resources available and can recommend special books to assist you in helping a friend learn to read. Books on beginning readers are sometimes called primers (pronounced primmer). Some are designed especially for adults to avoid the embarrassment of having to learn by reading children's books. Learn about all of the resources available to you. The library is always an excellent place to start.

5. Hire a Private Tutor for a Challenged Reader. Give the gift of reading to someone who needs it. It can be very embarrassing for an adult to admit that he or she cannot read or work simple calculations. If the thought of attending adult education classes freaks someone out, private tutors are always available. Your literacy council or library are probably your best places to find a trained tutor who will respect the student's privacy and anonymity. What a wonderful gift to give someone who won't otherwise seek help.


10 Tips to Promote Literacy at Home by Jennifer Campbell, Red Apple Reading Blog

25 Ways Schools Can Promote Literacy And Independent Reading by TeachThought

Promoting Literacy in the Workplace posted by Alejandra Guzman, High Five Science

5 Ways to Improve Adult Literacy by ThoughtCo.

For more information on literacy tips, strategies and customizable tools for all kinds of readers, please visit: ---Tools for challenged readers of all ages!

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC and Seussblog

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Encourage Challenged Readers with These Helpful Combos!

"If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk," writes author Laura Joffe Numeroff in her best-selling children's book (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). In the same vein, if you give a child a book, there is a very good chance she will ask for another.

Books are priceless gifts that open doors to children that they might not otherwise have opened to them. Stories teach important lessons, provide escape to faraway lands and introduce children to characters that inspire and remain in their hearts for years to come. So, when it is time to think of a great gift for a child you love, think no further than a favorite book to help him remember your special thoughtfulness. Whether it is to commemorate a birthday, the Holiday Season or other important event, give a book, and chances are, you will hear about your gift often and for a long time to come.

You may wonder, "But what about a child who struggles to read or has challenges that make reading more difficult for him?" Please don't stop thinking about books as worthy gifts if this is the case. In fact, giving a book to a child with a reading challenge like dyslexia or other LD such as ADHD, autism, etc., can actually provide you with an opportunity to present an audio-book or a traditional selection accompanied by helpful reading tools. So, don't hesitate to consider the gift of one of these options that will make a child of any age smile.

Consider choosing a title with a main character that struggles with the very same reading challenge the child experiences. There are more children's books than ever before that demonstrate just how to manage and even overcome many reading and learning issues. Some attack dyslexia or ADHD head on while others infer an academic or other struggle. Whatever the case, when a child reads about a character who experiences the same issues and feelings he has, it can be the first step to helping to deal with that issue. Combine the title with helpful tools or reading aids, and you have an ideal gift option for a child who wants to read and learn with more success.

During this Holiday Season, we have gathered together a very special grouping of favorite children's selections for a variety of age groups to help you with gift giving. With books like these that are paired with innovative reading tools, not only will you be encouraging a child to read, but you will also help provide support, enjoyment, inspiration and improved self-esteem for that child. Of course, being a genuine supporter of literacy and life-long learning will be a wonderful benefit, as well. And there is always the very good chance that the child will ask for another book to read just like the mouse with the cookie and the glass of milk. Happy "Reading" Holidays, everyone!

Book & Tool Gift Sets for Challenged Readers/Learners

- Clementine (ages 6-8) by Sara Pennypacker

- My Name is Brain Brian (ages 8-12) by Jeanne Betancourt

- My Mouth Is a Volcano! (ages 5-8) by Julia Cook

- Tom's Special Talent - Dyslexia (ages 5-7) by Kate Gaynor

- Fish in a Tree (ages 10+) by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

- The Alphabet War: A Story about Dyslexia (ages 5-7) by Diane Burton Robb

- The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 1)
(ages 9+) R. Riordan

- It's Called Dyslexia (Live and Series) (ages 6-9) by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos

For more information on customizable reading tools for ADHD and/or dyslexia, please visit: ---Tools for challenged readers of all ages!

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC and

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Latest Stats and Resources for ADHD and Dyslexia

It is October and the autumn air is a bit chilly here in the Midwest. October is also ADHD Awareness Month and Dyslexia Awareness Month. Because of this, we thought it would be helpful to our readers to provide some important and recently published statistics (from 2016) regarding these two learning disabilities. At the same time, we thought it even more important to offer a collection at the same time of updated resources to assist parents and teachers who help children with these specific challenges.

You may be surprised to learn that ADHD and dyslexia are distinct conditions that frequently overlap, thereby causing some confusion about the nature of these two conditions. ADHD is one of the most common developmental problems, affecting 9-10% of the school-age population in the U.S. It is characterized by inattention, distractability, hyperactivity (sometimes) and impulsivity.

At the same time, it is estimated that 30% of those with dyslexia have co-existing ADHD. Some experts in the fields of ADHD and dyslexia claim that this the number is closer to 40%. Co-existing means the two conditions, ADHD and dyslexia, can occur together, but they do not cause each other. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition, spelling and decoding of words. Persons with dyslexia have problems discriminating sounds within a word or phonemes, a key factor in their reading and spelling difficulties. (See IDA fact sheets Definition of Dyslexia and Dyslexia Basics in Dyslexia Resources to Help below here.)

Current Dyslexia Statistics & Information

1. Current research suggests that about 17% of the population has dyslexia (nearly 1 in 5 children).
2. An equal number of girls and boys are dyslexic. It is thought that boys are more likely to act out as a result of having a reading difficulty and are therefore more likely to be identified early. Girls, on the other hand, are more likely to try to "hide" their difficulty, becoming quiet and reserved.
3. Because the source of dyslexia lies in the brain, children do not outgrow dyslexia. With the proper intervention, children with dyslexia can learn to read well. As adults, people with dyslexia can be successful in many different careers, although many adults with dyslexia continue to have difficulty with spelling and tend to read relatively slowly.
4. The first description of dyslexia appeared in 1896 by Dr. W. Pringle Morgan in Sussex, England
5. The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek word dys (meaning poor or inadequate) plus lexis (words or language), implying only an inadequacy in language tasks.

Current ADHD Data & Statistics (2016)

1. Approximately 9.4% of children 2-17 years of age (6.1 million) had ever been diagnosed with ADHD, according to parent report in 2016.
-Ages 2-5: Approximately 388,000 children
-Ages 6-11: Approximately 2.4 million children
-Ages 12-17: Approximately 3.3 million children

2. Parent report on ADHD diagnosis in previous years:

-The percent of children 4-17 years of age ever diagnosed with ADHD had previously increased, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011-12.
-The number of young children (ages 2-5) who had ADHD at the time of the survey increased by more than 50% from the 2007-2008 survey to the 2011-12 survey.

3. Parent report in 2016, among U.S. children ages 2-17 years:

-Nearly 2 of 3 children with current ADHD had at least one other mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. [Read article]
-About 1 out of 2 children with ADHD had a behavior or conduct problem.
-About 1 out of 3 children with ADHD had anxiety.
-Other conditions affecting children with ADHD: depression, autism spectrum disorder, and Tourette Syndrome.

Dyslexia Resources to Help

Definition of Dyslexia-from International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

FREE Dyslexia Fact Sheet-from
What is dyslexia? This FREE one-page fact sheet (view full size) provides essential information for beginners. You can read the fact sheet online, or print it out and give it to friends, family and teachers.

Dyslexia Basics-from International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

Online Dyslexia Test-from Dyslexia Advantage (Dr. Fernette Eide)

SELF-ADVOCACY: Common Accommodations and Modifications-from Dyslexia Advantage (Dr. Fernette Eide)
One of the first steps in advocacy is knowing which accommodations and/or modifications are necessary. Here’s a nice list from the state of CT.

Accommodations for Students with Dyslexia-from International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

Dyslexia Awareness, Tools, Resources & Support

ADHD Resources to Help

ADHD Symptom Tests
Separate tests provided here for children and adults. Is it ADHD? Or learning disabilities, OCD, or something else? Take these self-tests to learn whether you or your child have symptoms that resemble attention deficit or one of the related conditions commonly diagnosed alongside ADHD. Print the results and take them to a medical professional for an appropriate diagnosis.

FREE ADHD Downloads-from ADDitude Magazine
A sizable collection of FREE printables on a variety of ADHD topics is available here. The resources provided for children and adults include information on treatment options for ADHD, neurofeedback, ADHD's impact on personal relationships and much MORE!

Strategies & Accommodations for Challenged Readers
FREE downloadable list of strategies to help readers of all ages to FOCUS and READ with more success.

FREE ADHD Podcasts-from ADDitude Magazine
Listen to ADDitude’s FREE podcast series about all things ADHD — recognizing symptoms, researching treatment, raising children, living better with attention deficit, and much more — with leading experts in ADD / ADHD. Click here for the full library of ADDitude podcast episodes.

Other Resources

VIDEO: Michelle Carter Wins Olympic Gold With Dyslexia and ADHD-from
Michelle Carter grew up with BOTH dyslexia and ADHD. Reading and spelling were a challenge for her (they still are), and she struggled to pay attention in school. Then she found her passion and talent: track and field. It motivated her to do well enough in school to be able to continue competing. And it took her all the way to Rio in 2016, where she won an Olympic gold medal in the shot put. View this inspiring video to learn how she did it!

Tools & Apps for ADHD, Dyslexia & Other Challenges

Sources for This Article

Data & Statistics for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) and Dyslexia-from International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

The Facts About Dyslexia-from

50 Interesting Facts About Dyslexia-from Reading Horizons

For more information on customizable reading tools for ADHD and/or dyslexia, please visit: ---Tools for challenged readers of all ages!

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC and Pixabay

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

BEST Executive Function Games, Apps and Activities

Before we can learn more about the best executive function resources, it is important to understand what executive function actually is.

Executive function
is the term used to describe a set of mental processes that helps us connect past experience with present action. We use executive function when we perform such activities as:

1. Managing time
2. Paying attention
3. Switching/changing focus
4. Planning and organizing
5. Remembering details
6. Speaking/acting appropriately to avoid saying/doing the wrong thing
7. Doing things based on one's experience
8. Multi-tasking

Executive function skills allow us to focus our attention, filter distractions, and switch mental gears. The ability to manage time effectively is also part of executive function.

These skills enable us to follow through and finish our work on time, ask for help when needed, wait to speak until we are asked or called on and seek more information when appropriate.

These planning, organizing, strategizing skills, along with the ability to pay attention and remember details impact us each and every day. Typically, those with ADHD have difficulty with executive function. It is part of the ADHD array of challenges. On the other hand, it is important to state that those with executive function disorder do not automatically have ADHD.

With that said, these executive function skills are learned and are typically not totally intact until after the teen years. Knowing this can help us realize that the instruction of planning and organizational skills is very important for children. Keeping this in mind should also help us be more patient when children forget to either do their homework or turn it in, as those executive function skills are not totally intact until the mid-twenties.

When one has poor executive function skills, learning can be considerably more difficult. Activities to build those executive function skills change and become more complex as an individual grows.

To help build or improve executive function effectively, consider the use of games, apps and other activities. These types of resources are more apt to grab the interest of an already-challenged attention span AND better engage an individual. Of course, the resources used must be age-appropriate and, whenever possible, should appeal to the individual's learning style, as well.

For this reason, and because of some recent email requests at the beginning of this new school year, we have gathered together a collection of these executive function resources to help our readers who care for and provide services to children with these challenges. We hope that if you are a parent, teacher, or one of these caregivers or support persons, you will discover all you need in the list that follows here.

For additional information and resources for executive function skills, please visit our related article entitled Brain-Training Games & Apps to Improve Executive Functions.

BEST Games to Help Improve Executive Functions

8 Fun Games That Can Improve Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills
by Lexi Walters Wright at

Family Games that Improve Executive Functioning
by What Do We Do All Day

Games to Improve Executive Function Skills
by Pathway 2 Success

BEST Apps to Help Improve Executive Functions

3 Apps That Lead to Improved Executive Functioning Skills
by Jennifer Sullivan and Ron Samul at eSchool News

Apps and Games That Can Improve Executive Function Skills in the Classroom
by Leah Watkins at LearningWorks for Kids

FREE Webinar Replay: The Right Way to Train Your Brain: How to Improve Processing Speed and Executive Function with Games and Apps
with Randy Kulman, Ph.D., and James Daley
FREE hour-long webinar, downloadable slide presentation and strategies from ADDitude via email.

BEST Activities to Help Improve Executive Functions

Activities to Improve Executive Function Skills
by Bonnie Terry Learning

20 Activities To Improve Executive Function
by Dr. Lynne Kenney

Activities Guide: Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence
from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus, attention, and improved executive function, please visit: ---Tools for struggling readers of all ages!

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC and Pixabay

Saturday, July 28, 2018

BEST Reading Resources for ADHD

As the summer begins to wind down, it will be more prudent than ever to encourage your child or teen to spend time reading. This will further help them to avoid "The Summer Slide" and be better prepared for a more successful fall term. Students with ADHD may need even more support along these lines.

For this reason and because of our experiences with students of all abilities after the summer vacation period, we thought it would be beneficial to our readers to provide a list of ADHD reading tips and resources, especially right now during the fast-approaching back-to-school season. One of our previous articles entitled Let's Deal with Distractions---ADHD Strategies for Home & School included a rather extensive list of general home and school resources for ADHD.

This week, we are helping parents and teachers prepare for a new school year with a new ADHD resource list for reading. We hope this list will assist our readers in helping students experience improved focus, more sustained attention and better concentration when reading (whether online or offline). It is important to note that these resources can be helpful not only to children with ADHD but to ALL children with reading issues. We hope the list and its "goodies" will provide you with the needed resources to help a child you know with the reading challenges of ADHD.

Helpful Reading Resources for ADHD

11 Every-Night Ways to Build Stronger Reading Skills
by Matthew Cruger, Ph.D. and ADDitude Magazine
Children with ADHD and learning disabilities often struggle to become confident readers with strong comprehension skills. Here’s how easy-to-follow tips — like forming a book group or encouraging note-taking — can help your little reader.

Many ADHD Kids Also Have Reading Problems
by Denise Mann, WebMD Health News
About half of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may experience problems with reading, according to a new study in Pediatrics. It was found that 51% of boys with ADHD had reading problems, as did 46.7% of girls with ADHD. More information about this study and many reading resources for ADHD are offered here.

Print & Use Tools: Study Skills from
FREE worksheets, lists and activities to help children (especially those with ADHD) become better organized, more motivated & more on top of school work.

Summer Ways to Prepare for a Better School Year from ADDitude Magazine
A guide to preparing your child for the upcoming school year.

Saving Summer with Structure from ADDitude Magazine
Combine fun and structure to give children with ADHD the best summer ever. Parents and experts reveal how to boost smarts and avoid boredom during the lazy days of summer.

Desktop App: Reading Focus Cards (U.S. Patent 8,360,779)
($5.99-per device w/ no subscription) from Brennan Innovators, LLC
Desktop app for Windows PC's and Macs is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (U.S. Patent 7,565,759). Provides practical focus and reading support for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia,autism and other conditions that can affect reading success.
1. For Macs: Visit the Mac App Store at
2. For Windows XP, 7, 8 & 10 PC's: Visit Gumroad at
3. For Windows 10 PC's only: Visit the Microsoft Windows Store at

5 Back To School Tips for Your ADD or ADHD Child
by Dr. Robert Myers, Child Psychologist
Here are some back-to-school tips to make things seem a lot easier and smoother for parents and kids.

ADD/ADHD Resources for Teachers from TeacherVision
Articles and many FREE resources to help educators manage the special nature of students with ADD/ADHD.

For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus & attention, please visit: ---Tools for struggling readers of all ages!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Engage Kids in Reading with Great Book and Video Combos!

Reading is an enjoyable pastime for many, and it knows no season. Summer, winter, spring or fall can provide an unlimited number of opportunities to read for pleasure. For a reluctant reader, however, enjoying a good book may not be a favorite activity. In fact, it may be downright unpleasant, especially when reading challenges are experienced by that reluctant reader. In this week's article and as another summer begins, we thought it would be timely to provide some helpful resources to entice and hopefully engage young readers who would otherwise not pick up a book and read it for enjoyment, particularly during this summer vacation time.

So often reluctant or challenged readers respond well and have a preference for sensory experiences, those activities involving at least 1 of the 5 senses. In particular, visuals can be very powerful in their appeal for these readers, providing long-term benefits that improve comprehension and positively impact memory and retention, too. A great way to appeal to the senses and thereby encourage more reading is to pair 2 visuals---a good book with a related video. Of course, the first step would be to engage the child in the new book with a promise to view the video when the reading of the story is completed.

To help make this more convenient for you as a parent or educator, we have gathered together here a great list of revered children's books AND their related videos that re-tell their stories. What could be more effective than this in enticing kids to read---and keep reading all summer long? We can't think of anything better!

Book and Video Combos to Entice & Engage Kids in Reading

The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
(for Ages 2-5)
Physical Book:

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
(for Ages 3-7)
Physical Book:

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
(for Girls, Ages 8-12)
Physical Paperback:

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
(for Ages 8-12)
Physical Paperback:

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
(for Ages 10+)
Physical Paperback:
Short Trailer Video:

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
(for Ages 10-14)
Physical Paperback:
Movie: (for rental or purchase)

For information about customizable tools for ALL kinds of challenged or reluctant readers: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC: and Pixabay:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Make Kids' Summer Reading FUN!

Summer is here and with it comes a long, relaxing break from the classroom for millions of children. It will be a time for swimming and playing, enjoying lazy days with family and friends as well as afternoons spent with favorite activities. We hope one of those activities will be some summer reading time, as this can go a long way in retaining and even boosting skills for the next school year.

To help parents and teachers prepare for a summer break that allows and encourages more good reading for kids, we have gathered a list of new resources to make it easy. You'll discover recently published book lists for kids as well as FREE activities and other reading resources for the coming summer months. We hope you will find this list helpful as well as enjoyable for both you AND the children you care about and serve.

Here's are 2 EASY tips to help you get started on a wonderful summer of reading FUN:

1. Bring BOOKS with you EVERYWHERE! Keep a basket with a variety of kids' books in your family room and another in the kitchen. Store a backpack with books ready to read while kids are riding in the car as you do errands and other activities. Bring reading outside to the backyard or on the patio with a weather-proof container of books tucked in a corner.

2. Remember to visit your local library often this summer, too! Your kids will remember those visits for years to come---AND thank you later!

Summer Reading Resources That Are FUN, too!

2018 ALSC Summer Reading Lists (Birth to Grade 8)
from the Association of Library Service to Children

Evergreen Audiobooks 2017 (Pre-K to Grade 8)
from the Association of Library Service to Children

2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens
from the ALA-American Library Association

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge 2018
from Scholastic, Inc.
Welcome to the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge for 2018! Get ready for the best and most magical summer ever! Monday, May 7—Friday, September 7, 2018

FREE Activities & Printables for Reading FUN!
from Scholastic, Inc.

For information about customizable tools for ALL kinds of readers: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC: and Pixabay:

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

15 Empowering Resources for Persons of ALL Ages with Autism

As many of our blog readers may know, April is World Autism Month. It is a dedicated time to help raise awareness for autism and the 1 in 68 children as well as the many adults challenged with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). You may also know that when provided with appropriate resources and family as well as community support, persons challenged with the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders can live productive lives and in many cases thrive within their supportive communities.

It is important to also keep in mind that the right tools, strategies and resources can significantly improve one’s learning success, too, especially when reading and learning can be difficult for someone with autism, ADHD, dyslexia or other issues. If you or someone you know is challenged with an ASD, however, the significance of those tools, strategies and resources may be even more important in efforts to improve the quality of life. You may already know about physical and digital tools that effectively help challenged, unfocused readers with autism and sensory issues. A FREE list of reading and learning strategies to help persons of any age with autism (and other issues, too) can be found here.

For this article, we wanted to address the third component---resources that can actually help to EMPOWER children and adults with autism to become more confident, more socially interactive and better able to overcome their obstacles. In our efforts to write this article, we have received the assistance of Ms. Kathleen Carter, a high-school student with autism who has been a volunteer-intern-extraordinaire at EducatorLabs. She assisted the organization with its research and outreach activities.

Ms. Carter kindly provided the first six empowering resources in our list included here. We want to thank her for these good resources for autism. We have added a few more links to the list and hope that because of our combined efforts, these resources may help you or others you know in the autism community to feel empowered to become more confident, more comfortable in social situations and more independent in overcoming the challenges of autism---each and every day!

Empowering Resources for Persons with Autism

1. Autism Speaks Resource Guide

2. Career Assistance for People with Autism

3. National Center for Autism Resources & Education

4. AutismNOW Transition Planning

5. Aquatic Therapy for Children with Autism

6. Autism Services

7. Equine Therapy Programs for Children with Autism

8. Autism Resources from Easter Seals

9. Family Grant Opportunities (for Therapy, Assistive Technology, etc.)

10. Resources - Solutions to Problems in the Autism Community-US Autism & Asperger Association

11. BEST Apps for Sensory Processing Issues (iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)

12. BEST Apps for Autism(iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)

13. NEW Reading Focus Cards App for Windows 10 PCs (via Windows Store)

14. NEW Reading Focus Cards App for Windows XP, 7, 8 & 10 PCs (via
Click on drop down to version preferred.

15. Physical Reading Focus Cards Tools for Challenged Readers
(For Reading Actual Books & Documents)

For more information on customizable tools for challenged readers with autism: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC: and Pixabay:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Launch of New Windows 10 App Helps Motivate All Ages to Focus and Read Better---Online or Offline

Finally, low-cost help for ALL readers with the new Reading Focus Cards app

As students return from Spring Break in the days ahead, they will be looking for new and better ways to resume the reading and study tasks required for a successful conclusion to the school year. Whether they are elementary, secondary, college or grad students, they will be looking for motivating ways to effectively manage the volume of reading and test prep to meet their academic goals throughout the remainder of the semester.

The new Reading Focus Cards app for Windows 10 PCs (U.S. Patent 8,360,779) can enable students to do just that---focus and read digital media with more success. The new app now accessible via the Windows Store, was designed by a St. Louis educator and entrepreneur in collaboration with a renowned developer of apps for challenged readers. (For Mac users, there is a Mac version of the Reading Focus Cards app, too.) In addition to these digital apps, sensory-appealing Reading Focus Card tools made in St. Louis are also available for use with physical books and documents, too. This system of reading aids from Brennan Innovators helps improve focus for many readers but can be especially helpful to students of all ages with ADHD, dyslexia and other issues that very often negatively impact the reading experience.

Brennan Innovators, LLC, a leading innovation-driven provider of reading solutions for all ages, announced that it has published its new Windows 10 Reading Focus Cards app (U.S. Patent 8,360,779) for readers of online and offline digital media. This application for use with Windows 10 PCs was made possible by combining the efforts of an innovative developer of special needs apps together with those of an experienced St. Louis educator and entrepreneur. The launch of the Reading Focus Cards app for Windows 10 more easily enables PC users to read digital text with more focus, visual comfort and improved reading skills.

Established in 2007, Brennan Innovators is a U.S. educational products and services company with a proven track-record of successful development and commercialization of teacher-designed reading tools for mainstream use as well as readers with special needs. All the company’s reading products are made in the U.S.A. Brennan Innovators also provides consultation and professional educational services for teachers, parents and other adults who serve students in grades K-12.

Speaking on the development of the app, Joan M. Brennan, founder and CEO of Brennan Innovators, LLC, said, "This infinitely-customizable app FLOATS on top and STAYS on top of underlying digital applications (Kindle PC app, etc.), enabling readers to FOCUS on digital text needing immediate attention AND BLOCK OUT surrounding text that may be distracting. The app is great for e-books and online courses read on PCs, too. The launch of this innovative overlay application continues our commitment to explore new and innovative pathways in reading technology with an emphasis on support for challenged readers of all ages/abilities and, thereby, improvement of their self-esteem. Reading success and the skills related to it are the cornerstones for success and achievement in life. We are excited to add this new Windows 10 version of the Reading Focus Cards app to our portfolio of customizable and sensory-appealing reading solutions."

Ms. Brennan, an experienced middle-school teacher, created the original Reading Focus Cards (U.S. Patent 7,565,759), physical reading aids that grew out of the students’ needs in her own classroom. Throughout 2017, she worked with Abelardo Gonzalez, a developer of apps for dyslexia (OpenDyslexic font) and other reading challenges, to create the new Windows 10 Reading Focus Cards app for PCs. First established in 2014 for the first version of the app for Macs and PCs, their collaboration has worked well to support Brennan Innovators’ mission of providing tools to enable ALL individuals to focus and read with more success. The new app is available in the Windows Store. The Mac version of the desktop app is available in the Mac App Store.

To view a VIDEO of the new Reading Focus Cards app for Windows 10 in action, please visit

Resource Links

1. NEW Reading Focus Cards App for Windows 10 PCs (via Windows Store):

2. NEW Reading Focus Cards App for Windows 10 PCs (via
Click on drop down to version preferred.

3. VIDEO of NEW Reading Focus Cards App for Windows 10 PCs:

4. Reading Focus Cards App for Windows 7 & 8 (via
Click on drop down to version preferred.

5. Reading Focus Cards App for Macs (via Mac App Store):

6. Physical Reading Focus Cards Tools
(For Reading Actual Books & Documents)

For more information on customizable tools for ALL kinds of readers: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC: and Pixabay:

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

BEST Websites for Dyslexia-2018

It's no surprise that the most popular article (with resources) in our blog here was actually written and published back in 2013. The article entitled BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia has experienced nearly 35,000 visitors to date since its publication in early October of that year (updated in late 2016).

We thought we were long overdue in providing our readers with a brand new article with the latest and best in dyslexia websites and resources. We hope that you will discover exactly what you need in the list of links below to effectively help a reader with dyslexia whom you know and support.

BEST Websites for Dyslexia-2018

The International Dyslexia Association
Home Page:
FREE Fact Sheets:

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

DyslexiaHelp at the University of Michigan

Decoding Dyslexia
National grassroots organization of parents, teachers and other adults impacting the lives of children & adults w/ dyslexia
Home Page:
Links to Individual State Branches:

For Teachers from Decoding Dyslexia Oregon
Dyslexia resources for educators---all in 1 place.

Understanding Dyslexia from

Dyslexic Advantage by Drs. Fernette & Brock Eide
Home Page:
Online Adult Dyslexia Checklist of Symptoms(for guidance only):

Bright Solutions for Dyslexia by Susan Barton

800+ Dyslexia Resources---ALL in 1 Place! from Brennan Innovators, LLC

Connect the Dots: Understanding Dyslexia (Launch Report-May 2017)
by Kate Griggs, Founder & CEO, Made By Dyslexia

LD Online-Dyslexia Basics

Reading Rockets

OpenDyslexic Font by Abelardo Gonzalez
Access to FREE download of font that helps dyslexic readers (for all possible devices)

BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia

How Well Does Your State Support Children with Dyslexia? (published 10/25/17)
by Emily Hanford, The Hechinger Report
Provides clickable map for status of dyslexia legislation in all 50 U.S. States.

Homeschooling With Dyslexia by Marianne Sunderland
Website with excellent information and resources for teachers, homeschooling families and others who care for and serve children with dyslexia.

Why Audiobooks? from mindspark
Reasons why audiobooks are a GOOD and WISE resource for dyslexic readers.

“Don’t Worry. He’ll Catch Up” Will Condemn Your Child To a Lifetime of Struggling to Read
by Judy Santilli Packhem, Medium
Children who have difficulty when young will not just “catch up” on their own or with traditional methods of teaching.

Exercise Helps the Brain by clnAdrian, Conscious Life News

Differently Wired by Mike Pickle
Dyslexic/dyspraxic blogger offers tips, techniques and related guidance for working professionals with dyslexia who wish to excel in the workplace.

For information on customizable tools for dyslexia & other reading challenges: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC: and

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How Can I Help a Child with Convergence Insufficiency (CI)?

In recent weeks, we have been receiving more than the usual requests for information and resources about an eye condition called convergence insufficiency (CI). Because we have not published an article on this topic since 2012 with Helpful Apps & Resources for Convergence Insufficiency, we thought it was time with the New Year to provide our readers with the latest information, strategies and other resources on this subject of CI.

What IS Convergence Insufficiency? (CI)

Convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the eyes are unable to work together when looking at nearby objects. This condition causes one eye to turn outward instead of inward with the other eye creating double or blurred vision.

Convergence insufficiency is usually diagnosed in school-age children and adolescents. It can cause difficulty reading, for which parents or teachers might suspect the child has learning difficulties rather than an eye disorder.

Treatments are usually effective for convergence insufficiency.

Symptoms and Causes of Convergence Insufficiency (CI)

Not everyone with convergence insufficiency has signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms occur while you're reading or doing other close work and might include:

-Tired, sore or uncomfortable eyes (eyestrain)
-Frequent headaches
-Difficulty reading — words seem to float on the page, loss of place or reading slowly, which might cause one to avoid reading or not complete schoolwork
-Double vision (diplopia)
-Difficulty concentrating
-Squinting, rubbing or closing one eye

The cause of convergence insufficiency is actually not known, but it involves a misalignment of the eyes when focusing on nearby objects. The misalignment involves the muscles that move the eye. Typically, one eye drifts outward when you're focusing on a word or object at close range.

If you or your child experiences the symptoms of convergence insufficiency or problems reading, consult an eye care professional for a comprehensive exam — a developmental/behavioral optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

Diagnosis of Convergence Insufficiency (CI)

Individuals with convergence insufficiency might have otherwise normal vision (20/20), so it is important to mention reading or learning concerns to your eye care provider. To diagnose convergence insufficiency, the eye doctor might:

1. Request a medical history. This might include questions about problems with focusing, blurred or double vision, headaches, and symptoms.

2. Measure the near point of convergence. This test measures the distance from the eyes to where both eyes can focus without double vision. The examiner holds a small target, such as a printed card or penlight, in front of the patient and slowly moves it closer until either double vision is experienced or the examiner sees an eye drift outward.

3. Assess positive fusional vergence (PFV). During this test, the patient is asked to read letters on an eye chart while looking through prism lenses. The examiner will note when you begin to have double vision.

4. Perform a routine or comprehensive (recommended) eye exam. If patient has any other vision problems, such as nearsightedness, the doctor might conduct tests to assess the degree of the problem.

Recommended Treatment of (CI)

Eye coordination problems like convergence insufficiency generally cannot be improved with eye glasses or surgery. A program of vision therapy may be needed to improve eye coordination abilities, reduce symptoms, and alleviate discomfort when doing close work.

The American Optometric Association and the 2008 Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial clearly support the superiority of office-based vision therapy, supplemented by at-home vision therapy (i.e., prescribed eye exercises, etc.), for treatment of convergence insufficiency.

If convergence insufficiency is not causing symptoms, treatment is generally not needed. However, for persons with symptoms, treatment that include eye-focusing exercises can increase the eyes' convergence ability.

Treatment of CI, which can take place in the office of a trained therapist or at your home, might include:

1. Pencil Pushups: In this exercise, the patient focuses on a small letter on the side of a pencil as it is moved closer to the bridge of the nose, stopping as soon as double vision is experienced. The exercise is often done for 15 minutes a day, five or more days a week.
2. Computer-generated Vision Therapy: Eye-focusing exercises are done on a computer using software designed to improve convergence. The results can be printed to share with the eye doctor.
3. About Reading Glasses: Glasses with built-in prisms generally haven't proved effective. If the patient has another focusing or vision problem, such as not seeing well close up (farsightedness), reading glasses might be prescribed.

Recent studies indicate that office-based therapy with home reinforcement is the most effective treatment for convergence insufficiency. Home-based treatment with pencil pushups or computer programs hasn't been shown to be as effective. But home treatment costs less and is more convenient and more readily available.

Treatment for convergence insufficiency might take three months or longer. Treatment can resolve convergence insufficiency, but symptoms might recur after illness, after lack of sleep, or when you're doing a lot of reading or other close work. Discuss treatment options with your eye care professional.

In the meantime, teachers can do much to enable students to manage CI symptoms and other reading challenges in the classroom. Here is a list of practical strategies to help alleviate some of the discomfort and focusing issues of CI:

7 Classroom Modifications to Help Students with Functional Vision Problems

Provide Better Lighting

Many classrooms are poorly lit with flickering fluorescent bulbs. Even when this type of lighting is functioning properly, the glare created by the fluorescent bulbs makes it very difficult for readers with challenges. Schools often need to make the most economical choices, and fluorescent lighting is cheap. However, proper lighting is particularly important for students with vision problems. We suggest providing natural lighting or full-spectrum bulbs whenever possible. On a nice day, a child could sit near the window in the sunlight or at a table with a full-spectrum lamp, especially when doing sustained close work. In addition, to alleviate the "harshness" of fluorescent lighting in a classroom, some teachers drape softly-colored, open-weaved fabric (not flammable) under the lighting fixtures on the ceiling but at a safe distance from them.

Provide Periodic Work Breaks

Sustained near-field work that requires a student to keep both eyes pointed in the same direction (a function known as teaming), follow along the text (a function known as tracking), and focus on text or numbers for an extended amount of time (a function known as “accommodation”) is challenging for children with vision problems. These functions work effortlessly for children with healthy vision systems, but children with vision deficiencies need to put forth extra effort. Allowing students to take breaks regularly gives their eyes time to rest so they can begin working again refreshed.

Provide Oral Testing Options

For children with vision problems, reading and writing causes strain and even headaches; so sometimes these students get distracted or give up while taking a test. If you’ve ever studied with your child for an exam, certain he would ace it, only to find out later that he failed, a functional vision problem could be interfering with his test-taking performance. Bubbling in answer sheets can be a particular challenge. Allowing students to demonstrate knowledge through oral quizzes and tests when possible is often a helpful solution.

Grant More Time for Completion of Work

Often, classroom exams and assignments are either intentionally timed or students are hurried on to the next task due to schedules and general time constraints of the school day. A child with a learning-related vision problem may need more time to learn, complete assignments, and take tests. This has nothing to do with intelligence; it’s simply a matter of the way their vision system functions. Granting extra time can boost their performance.

Use Highlighters

When you were in school, did you ever use highlighter markers or pencils to underline important text? When you’re reading, do you ever slide your finger or pen along text as a guide, especially when you’re getting tired or trying to concentrate on challenging material? Allowing a child with an eye tracking deficiency to use highlighters as they read is a simple but effective classroom modification. Readers with normal healthy visual processing systems can easily move their eyes in a left to right manner across the page without skipping words or losing their place. Highlighters can make it easier for your child to stay on track.

Make Larger Text Available

Children with learning-related vision problems strain to read standard-sized text more so than their classmates with healthy vision systems. Larger print is easier to read, focus on, and follow along, smoothly and efficiently. Text on worksheets and exams can be enlarged simply by using larger font or blowing up the copy size. The school may be required to accommodate your child’s needs by ordering large-print textbooks when available. You can also buy large-print books for your child to read at home or check them out from the library.

Limit Copying From Board

Copying from the board or screen can be difficult for a student with a vision problem, even if he has 20/20 eyesight or wears eyeglasses. When a child has trouble focusing, he may see clearly while looking down at his paper, and clearly while looking up at the board. However, looking up and down, back and forth, from the board to the paper might be where the challenge comes into play. The focus mechanism in a child’s eyes might be weak, slowing down the adjustment period as he looks from one point to the other. Arrange for seating closer to the board for some relief, or preferably provide the child with printed materials from which to copy.

If a child has a learning-related functional vision problem, simple classroom and learning environment modifications can provide much-needed relief as he tries to cope. The first step is to obtain a professional diagnosis by scheduling a functional or comprehensive vision exam with a developmental or behavioral optometrist. Then work with the school teacher and school to ensure appropriate modifications are made available.

These classroom modifications may be temporary, because an individualized vision therapy program can improve functional vision significantly.


Convergence Insufficiency (Symptoms & Causes) - from Mayo Clinic

Convergence Insufficiency (Diagnosis & Treatment) - from Mayo Clinic

Home-Based Therapy for Convergence Insufficiency-NOT EFFECTIVE!- by Lynn Hellerstein

Dyslexia, Really? Convergence Insufficiency: the REAL Story- by Robin Pauc (Kindle Edition)

What is Convergence Insufficiency (CI)? - from Optometrists Network

Convergence Insufficiency - from COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development)

Doctor Locator Tool - from the COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development)
Locate a Doctor in your area who is experienced and knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating convergence insufficiency.

7 Classroom Modifications to Help Students with Functional Vision Problems

65+ Convergence Insufficiency Resources (Many are FREE!)

Helpful Apps & Resources for Convergence Insufficiency

For more information about tools, strategies and resources for CI and other reading challenges, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image provided by: Brennan Innovators, LLC