Langhorne for Forbes, “Bookshare: How One Nonprofit Is Improving The Lives Of Students With ‘Reading Barriers'”
Emery Lower loves to read. She loves Harry Potter, Bridge to Terabithia and Pride and Prejudice. Since beginning sixth grade, she’s developed an interest in graphic novels, especially mangas; in particular, she recommends The Tea Dragon Society. Each year that Emery has taken the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness exams, she’s earned a “masters grade level” score on the reading section.
Only a few years ago, however, Emery couldn’t read. By the end of first grade, she hadn’t finished a book independently. She hated reading and didn’t even like it when her parents read to her because they wanted her to look at the text as they read the story.
“Any time Emery had homework in kindergarten and first grade, it would take hours and a lot of crying – mostly her but sometimes me,” says her mother Brandy Lower. “She was mentally exhausted when she came home from school because she’d spent all day trying to decode words and not being able to do it.”
That’s because Emery, like millions of other children in the United States, suffers from dyslexia, a learning disability that affects areas of the brain that process language. People with dyslexia struggle with decoding: the ability to relate speech sounds to letters and words.
“I would look at the page and say a word out loud, but it didn’t click in my brain,” Emery says. “I didn’t know letters made words, that they had to spell something. I thought that any random group of letters could be a word. Reading was not fun at all for me.”
Then, she found Bookshare, and, slowly, her life began to change.
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