Aug 242014

Your Reading Guide

One of the simplest tools you can use in the way of reading strategies for kids is to use a Reading Guide while reading with your child.

A reading guide is simpler to use than pointing with a finger because the guide doesn’t have to be moved left to right as your child reads. Your child can simply slide the reading guide down the page as he reads.

More about the Reading Guide below, but I did want to mention, if you’re interested in other strategies for reading, be sure to check out other Assistive Technology for Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities too!

Why Use a Reading Guide?

Many remedial reading programs for kids recommend the use of side-by-side guided reading to help with reading. This simple tool makes reading easier for children with visual perception difficulties, ocular motor deficits, dyslexia, etc.

Reading guides are recommended as dyslexia reading aids because they help kids maintain their place. If your child loses his place frequently when reading, then a reading guide allows your child to keep his place easily.

If you need to be sure your child is tracking each sentence properly as you read aloud to him, use a reading guide with a reading window in it. This will insure your child is focusing on the actual sentence you are reading.

Another key benefit of using a reading guide is that it is proven to increase a child’s reading rate. When a child easily moves his eyes across the line, then back to the beginning of the next line, his reading goes more smoothly. When reading is more fluent, your child’s reading speed will be improved.

How to Use a Reading Guide with Guided Reading

When your child is struggling with a reading disability, one-on-one, direct instruction is proven by research to be one of the key reading strategies for success. Guided reading is a direct instruction strategy that is highly recommended, and it is proven to improve reading abilities.

To use the guided reading strategy, you will need a reading guide (as shown in the pictures on this page).

With your reading guide in hand, sit side-by-side with your child. You can have your child read aloud, you can read to your child, or you and your child can take turns reading aloud.

The key in the guided reading strategy is for you to assist and instruct your child as you read together. When your child reads, if he struggles with a word and the reading guide is underlining the word, you’ll know precisely where to point in helping your child decode the word.

As you read aloud to your child, you can read fluently with proper tone of voice. Having the reading guide indicate where you are reading will help your child see and hear how you vary your voice along with the words in the sentence.

This type of side-by-side reading practice is one of the best ways to demonstrate good reading skills while assisting your child in developing his own reading abilities.

Guided Reading Guide Techniques

To use the reading guide, you simply slide the card down in one of three ways while reading:

  1. Slide the reading guide so that the sentence currently being read shows through the reading window
  2. Slide the edge of the reading guide down to underline each sentence as it is read, or
  3. Slide the reading guide down from the above the line being read to cover the sentence that was just read.

No matter which of the guided reading strategies you use, the reading guide will help your child focus on the sentence being read.

For any child who frequently loses his place while reading, using a reading guide can become an essential reading aid to help make reading easier. Not only will the use of the guide eliminate frustration over frequently losing his place, your child’s reading speed will increase because he won’t have to spend time figuring out where he was.

A Reading Guide is Easy for Readers of All Ages to Use.

Reading Guides can be a little bit difficult to use with elementary aged kids who are just learning to read. Until the child learns the concept of word-by-word reading, the guide itself is not a highly useful tool.

In the very beginning, when first learning to read, it is better to use your finger as a reading guide to point to each individual word being read. As your child learns many of the easier words, it becomes easier to introduce a reading guide to eliminate the word-by-word pointing.

If a child can read more than half of the words in each sentence, then a reading guide becomes a useful tool. At this point, your child will recognize the words he knows, and he’s likely to be able to focus on the words he doesn’t know because there will only be a couple of unknown words on each line.

Once your child reaches the point of using a reading guide, it can be a good tool to use for reading fluency throughout the rest of his schooling. Reading guides are so easy to use, that many readers chose to use them for all of their reading because they can read faster using a reading guide. (You might want to try it yourself!) 😉

High School aged kids are less likely to want to use a reading guide at school, but if you can demonstrate how the guide increases their reading speed, they may adopt the reading guide for homework. Because a reader can “sweep” down the page easily using a reading guide, it is usually easy for them to see how their reading speed increases.

Guided Reading Guides

Three of the most loved reading guides are the following three types of guides:

Guided Reading Strips Asst. Set of 7 (Colored Overlays) is one of the most popular choices. This pack of reading strips lets your child choose his favorite color or pick a different color based upon his mood. For kids with organizational issues, buying a multi-pack like this helps with having one handy whenever another one is misplaced. When reading guides go wandering, hopefully one will end up in each of your child’s favorite reading spots.

These Deluxe Durable Plastic Eye Lighter Reading Guide Strips (4 pack) are harder, like a plastic ruler, and some kids much prefer them over the thinner, flexible plastic reading guides. The jewel tones are enticing to kids, and the thinner, transparent “highlighter” function of this reading guide is helpful for kids who prefer to read with a colored overlay affect.

This Cut Out Window Blue Trakker Reading Guide is our favorite type of reading guide. It is about the size of a 3×5 index card (slightly larger). We like this type of card because you can curl up the bottom edge a bit and hold it, which makes moving the card from one page to the next easier. For the thinner reading guides, they lie flat as you slide them down the page, but you have to then grasp them and lift them to move them to the next page. With this kind of card, your grip on the bottom edge of the card can remain constant and that helps with fluency (at least, it does for us). This is my preferred type of card, but it is not the top-selling kind, so a lot of people obviously prefer the other kinds listed above! 😉

Of course, there are more reading guide options available, and you may prefer a different type of reading guide. Choose whichever you think your child will prefer. You can buy a variety if you want to find the one your child likes best. You can use the less preferred ones yourself or take the less preferred ones with you when you’re traveling. That way, if one gets lost or left behind, it won’t be the favorite one your child uses all the time at home. 😉

See Reading Guides and Prices Available on Amazon

Help with Reading Strategies Through Guided Reading Guides

So now that you have the low-down on guided reading guides, I hope you’ll give them a try. A reading guide can make a big difference in your child’s willingness to read, and it can improve your child’s reading abilities quickly if your child is already a functional reader but struggles with fluency.

Reading Guides are quick, simple tools you can use as a reading aid. As a very low-tech solution, reading guides are always worth a try if you’re looking for simple assistive technology to make reading easier for your child.

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Aug 242014

An E Reader is a GREAT Assitive Tool with Text-to-Speech Capabilities

E ReadersIf your child is not yet able to read, having an E Reader can give your child access to hundreds of books.

Kids with reading disabilities like to read the same books their friends are reading, but they can’t. Your child can enjoy all of the popular books if he can have the books read to him by his eBook tablet.

Today’s E Reader tablets have text to speech capabilities. Some of them have built-in read aloud software, but others have an app you can install for the read aloud capability. Either way, if your child has an E Reader equipped with the text to speech function, he can have access to all of the books he wants or needs to read.

E Readers can give kids with reading disabilities of all ages access to books. Providing your child with an E Reader that has text to speech capabilities will open the door to reading that is typically closed for kids with dyslexia or a reading disability.

The Benefits of E Readers for Kids with Reading Disabilities

As mentioned, having equal access can help your child read the same books his friends are reading.  That may not seem like a big benefit, but reading the books will allow your child to talk to friends about popular books.  It will let your child be included socially and be like everyone else. The value of being able to read the same books as everyone else can’t be underestimated.

Having an E Reader let’s your child access educational books and content too. Your child can access the same books other kids access when he’s studying for school. Additionally, textbook publishers are increasingly offering versions of their books for E Reader tablets, especially at the college level.

As a matter of fact, my son’s college INSISTED he have audio textbooks to help him with the quantity of reading, even though my son could read well. Why is that? Because, even after your child CAN read, reading speed is likely to remain slower than for typical readers.

When your child takes literature classes in high school or college, all of the reading can really bog your child down UNLESS he has an E Reader. For higher level science and social studies classes, your child will run into words he can’t pronounce. Having the text to speech ability will let him hear the word.  Then he’ll know the word when his teacher is talking in class, and he may recognize the word when he sees it in print.

How E Readers Work

The read aloud option is usually setting on the E Reader which your child can turn on or off.

In the case where the tablet uses an app, you just start the app to read the book.

There is often a “play” button to start or pause reading.  We use headphones with our text to speech function.  Using noise cancelling headphones help with focus, especially when a child has ADHD.

E Reader Ease of Use

Generally speaking, the text to speech option is quite easy to use.

A middle school or high school child who is adept with technology will have no difficulty turning the text to speech reader on or off.

For an elementary-aged child, you may have to turn the text to speech option on for your child.  Once the reader is turned on, you child should be able to start and stop play without any problem.

E Reader Options:

Kindle Fire is my TOP choice! It’s what I own. There are two options for read aloud books on Kindle. You can use either the text to speech option with the electronic voice or their Whispersync books with simultaneous reading highlighting. The Whispersync titles are more limited, but they are an awesome tool for your child to use whenever the books are available. You can read more about the Kindle Fire as an assistive technology option in our Using the Kindle Tablet for Reading Disabilities or Dyslexia Article.

Nook – The older NOOKs do not have a text-to-speech function. The HD versions of the NOOK have a text-to-speech option, but several user forum questions indicate that the text-to-speech function is not always easy to use. Users like listening to audiobooks on their Nooks, so your child would still have the ability to listen to recorded audiobooks. I imagine the text to speech functionality on the Nook will be improved if Barnes and Noble continues upgrading the Nook.

BOOX – You may find the new Onyx Boox has the most natural text to speech functionality. The Boox uses IVONA Text-To-Speech functionality for smooth reading. As a new advice, the Amazon reviews are mixed. Please read the latest reviews on the model you’re considering. I think the Boox has the potential to become a great, natural E Reader if the glitches are worked out.

iPad – Although the iPad isn’t actually an E Reader, it has the ability to function as a ebook reader via apps. There are a lot of books available in the iTunes store, and iPads are known for their high quality. Using either a full-sized iPad can make visual reading of books easier. However, an iPad mini is often easier for younger kids to handle.
Compare eBook Readers and Prices Available on Amazone reader

Help Your Non-Reader Read Independently With an E Reader

Giving your child a reading tablet with text-to-speech capability could be one of the best assistive technologies you can make on behalf of your child. Most kids want to be able to read independently. Kids develop a love for books when they aren’t frustrated by an inability to read.

You can open up the world of books for your child and help him be more successful in school with a great E Reader.

Check out other Assistive Technology for Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities

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Dec 082013

Kindle Tablets are Perfect for Children with Reading Disabilities or Dyslexia

What makes the Kindle Tablet perfect as assistive technology for children with reading disabilities?

I picked the Kindle Fire for my personal choice because of the huge library of books available for use on the Kindle, but there’s a lot more to the Kindle than a large library.

More about the Kindle for Reading Disabilities below, but I did want to mention, if you’re interested in other strategies for reading, you may want to check out other Assistive Technology for Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities too!

Kindle Fire’s main reading accessibility features are:

  • The ability to read any book using the built in text-to-speech functionality,
  • The ability to change page contrast to be black text on white, white text on black, or a low contrast sepia background for the text,
  • The ability to change the display brightness,
  • Whispersync capability which coordinates your Audible Book edition with the text edition of a book and provides text highlighting of words as they are read aloud,
  • The small size of the “Mini Tablet” is ideal for small hands,
  • As well as an extensive library of available books and apps.

There are other accessible features as well, but these are the best features when using the Kindle tablet for reading disabilities as a reading assistance device.

I really like the Kindle reading voice in the device’s text-to-speech feature. The voice is a little bit mechanical, but the voice is far smoother than most computer-based voices and is a pleasant female voice.  The text-to-speech programming uses good pausing at periods and commas, as well as good inflection for questions.

Compare Prices and Models on Amazon

Kindle has Great Learning Apps to Practice Phonemic Awareness and Writing

One of the other great aspects of the Kindle is your ability to install Android Apps that can be used by your child to practice phonemes in a multisensory manner.

As part of the Orton-Gillingham method for overcoming dyslexia is to have a child trace, recite, and hear the sounds a letter represents simultaneously.  There are APPS for THAT!

With the Kindle’s touch screen, your child can practice tracing letters with his finger while saying the phoneme aloud.  With some apps, your child can the phoneme read aloud too as he traces the letters.

There are even apps for kids with apraxia, math skills practice, building memory, etc. The wide variety of available apps for learning makes the Kindle tablet a top choice for kids with reading disabilities.

There are TOO MANY Educational APPS for Kindle To List!

Here are a few Kindle Apps that are Good for Phonemic Awareness and Writing practice:

I LOVE my Kindle and use the accessibility features even though I don’t HAVE to.  The Kindle is lighter and easier to handle than the bigger tablets, and that will be particularly important for your child if he’s in elementary or middle school.  A high school student may like the small size, or may prefer a larger tablet.

Some of the competitor tablets at this time do not have the built-in or pre-installed text-to-speech capability, but I’m hoping they all eventually get there. While my top choice is the Kindle tablet for reading disabilities, there are other small tablets that offer similar features, and providers are moving towards disability-friendly technology.  The best is yet to come, I’m sure!

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Oct 212013

If your child has a reading disability, dyslexia, and/or attention deficit disorder (ADHD), you will find assistive technology for dyslexia and reading disabilities will help your child overcome many problems with learning.

Assistive Technology for Dyslexia and Reading DisabilitiesSince the majority of educational content comes in the form of books, having dyslexia or a specific reading disability can severely impact a child’s ability to learn if he doesn’t have assistance. This is where assistive technology for dyslexia and reading disabilities can enable your child to read independently, learn to read better, and it will help your child learn from books.

If you want to help your child overcome his reading disability, check out the information on about how to remediate dyslexia. You CAN help your child overcome dyslexia!

There is a wide variety of tools you can use as assistive technology for dyslexia and reading disabilities. I’ve included high, medium, and low tech solutions so you can choose the assistive technology solutions that will help your child most. I’ve also included information about assistive technology for writing, math, and executive functioning (ADHD) elsewhere on this site too.

High-Tech Assistive Technology for Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities


An E Reader READs When Your Kid CAN’T Yet Read
See Also: KINDLE

Text-to-Speech electronic reading software (Windows Built-In Text reader, ReadPlease, VoiceDream Reader, NaturalReader )

OCR Scanning with Text-to-Speech electronic reader (Kurzweil)

Personal Listening Devices for Audiobooks, Podcasts, Audio Lectures (MP3, IPod)

Mid-Tech Assistive Technology for Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities

Reading Pens

Noise Canceling Headphones

Low Tech Assistive Technology for Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities


Reading Guide

Reading Tracker

Color Overlays (Irlens, See It Right)

Enlarged Text

Special Fonts

Highlighting pens

Highlighting tape

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Oct 172013

If your child has a reading disability, check out this cool Reading Pen Assistive Technology to enable independent reading for kids with dyslexia:

reading pen assistive technology

The Reading Pen

Reading pens are great for assistive technology. Your child can use the pen to scan a word or a sentence, and the pen will read the text aloud so your child never has to guess when reading.

As assistive technology, reading pens are particularly useful for older children who prefer to work independently, but are still working on learning basic reading skills.  A reading pen allows your child to work with grade-level books in science, math, history, and literature because it reads those difficult words to your child.

Using a Reading Pen can help you avoid the “Matthew Effect,” which occurs when a child gets further behind in all subject areas due to a disability in one subject area. The Matthew Effect occurs when a child doesn’t have equal access to grade-level materials in all subject areas that the child is required to study. A reading pen can provide the needed accessibility to grade-level materials.

More about the Reading Pens below, but I did want to mention, if you’re interested in other strategies for reading, be sure to check out other Assistive Technology for Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities too!

reading pen assistive technology for reading

The Benefits of a Reading Pen

One of the best things about a reading pen is that it can be taken anywhere to read any print your child may encounter. Unlike text-to-speech capabilities on computers, the scanning function of the pen can be used to read just about anything that is printed in a typical reading font.

The reading pens have earphones too, so your child can use the Reading Pen in libraries, in the car, in class, or anywhere he may need to read without disturbing others.

The biggest benefit of a reading pen is providing your child with independence while working. No longer would he have to wonder what a word is, skip over it, or ask someone.

The reading pen can enable a child with a specific learning disability in reading to read required texts fairly easily. This capability will enable your child to read at a more fluent rate rather than struggling to read.

See Models and Prices Available on Amazon

Reading Pens and Reading Comprehension

Perhaps the best benefit of all in equipping your child with a Reading Pen is that this assistive device can enhance a child’s reading comprehension. Studies show some promising results, although not every child is shown to benefit in every study:

“The Readingpen significantly improved comprehension levels as shown by an increase in number of correct answers on given tests. On average, the Readingpen increased science scores by 18 percentage points and social studies by 10 percentage points.” (Wizcomtech,

In “Exploring the affordances of I-pen for improving student reading skills,” Sze Yee Lye concludes, “The data analysis produced encouraging evidence that I-Pen is beneficial for the weak readers. The pupils find I-Pen easy to use and their reading experience appears to be enhanced by the I-Pen.” (

In conclusion, having a reading pen won’t teach your child how to read, but it sure can make reading content more accessible. The Reading Pen can give your child independence, increase his reading speed, and enhance his comprehension as he reads more fluently. All-in-all, I think Reading Pen Assistive Technology is among the handiest of devices for kids with dyslexia.

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