"Reading Rocks!" is a show for kids, intended to motivate and encourage them toward reading success. We want children to feel confident in their ability to learn to read. "Reading Rocks!" introduces young viewers to kids with learning differences that temporarily blocked their learning progress. But with the help of parents, teachers, and research-based instruction, all have become readers.
How it feels to struggle with reading
The Lab School in Washington, D.C., is a safe haven for children with learning disabilities. It is a place where children who learn differently are the rule, not the exception.
By using innovative techniques and placing a heavy emphasis on hands-on experiential learning and the arts, children are able to grasp concepts and talk about their feelings at the same time. In this environment, Ruth and the students in her class were able to explore the emotions of a struggling reader through their original claymation video, "From Zero to Hero."
Ben's magical world
Ben Buchanan is, by all accounts, an amazing kid. He wrote his first book when he was only eleven years old, and just recently published his second book at the age of thirteen. It's hard to imagine what force could motivate a kid to achieve so much at such a young age. For Ben, it was learning to read. Ben Buchanan is a diagnosed dyslexic.
When Ben was in first grade, his gifted teacher told his mother that his reading and writing skills lagged behind his peers. Ben's mom immediately sought the help of a learning therpaist, who encouraged her to have Ben tested. His scores revealed he had dyslexia. After being diagnosed, Ben was tutored for an hour a day in reading. His learning therapist used a system called alphabetic phonics to help him master the sound/symbol relationships that make up reading.
By fourth grade, Ben had learned to read, and just in time! That was the year that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published, and Ben received a copy as a Christmas present. He read the book and fell in love! Inspired, Ben created a Harry Potter board game, which won the Invention Convention contest at his school. Ben went on to write about his experience in his autobiography, My Year with Harry Potter: How I Discovered My Own Magical World.
AJ and his pals
Reading seemed like a chore to AJ. Instead of reading the big words, he just blew past them, making little effort to sound the words out. If your goal is just to get to the end of the page, this method is effective. But the ultimate goal of reading is comprehensionunderstanding what you read.
AJ's teacher noticed that AJ was struggling, and realized he needed help. That help came in the form of a pal. AJ's school uses the PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Strategies) program, which pairs stronger readers with those that need a little more help. AJ's PALS partner offered praise when he said words correctly, and gently prompted him to correct words he mispronounced. With the help of his partner, AJ is now well on the way to becoming a reader.
Learning a new language
Thirteen-year-old Maricely Ponton is bubbling with excitement. Today she graduates from Maria Sonchez Elementary, and in the fall, she's going on to middle school. But just a year ago, her future didn't seem as bright. A native Spanish-speaker, she had been struggling to learn to read and speak in English, and she was held back in the fifth grade because she wasn't reading at grade level.
Maricely's teacher helped her recognize the importance of mastering reading in English before she moved on to the next grade. Although she was disappointed at being held back, Maricely accepted her circumstances and was determined to succeed.
Maricely's school used a reading program called Success for All to build her vocabulary and comprehension, which helped increase her overall reading ability. At home, her older sister would read with her.
Though the process sometimes seemed long and painful, Maricely learned to read in English. Today she feels the sky is the limit. Having conquered this mountain in her life, she feels she can do anything.