Audio Books Help
Kids Learn

Children's Books Braille And Audio Beyond Baby Talk

Cake Pops Holidays

Free Books
And Magazines
Concert Pianist
Ayaka Isono
Help Teachers
Make The Grade
Travel Guide Books

Audiobooks Help Kids Learn

(NAPSI)—With school back in session, there is good news for millions of students who have difficulty reading because of dyslexia or other learning disabilities. For these young people who struggle to understand the printed word, there is a proven alternative: They can listen to their textbooks and enjoy academic success.

Studies have shown that audiobooks are remarkably effective for many students with reading-based disabilities. The benefits of auditory learning include increased comprehension, better grades, higher confidence and improved self-esteem. The leading resource for these students is Learning Ally, a nonprofit organization that offers the world’s most advanced library of audio textbooks for at-home and in-the-classroom reading.

Audiobook Apps Go Mainstream

Learning Ally offers instant access to more than 75,000 audio textbooks and popular literature titles—nearly everything required for kindergarten through high school and beyond. The audiobooks can be easily loaded to devices that kids use in everyday life—like iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as their laptops.

Educators applaud the independence that new mainstream technology gives to their students. “Kids with learning differences want to be part of the crowd, and they don’t want to be dependent on having mom or dad read their books to them,” says Ruth W., an educational therapist in California. “Now they can just put their earbuds on, read with Learning Ally’s free audio app on their iPhone, and blend in with their friends—which, especially in the teen years, is a huge consideration.”

Proven Help for Dyslexia

With the help of Learning Ally audiobooks, thousands of young people across the U.S. are enjoying newfound success in the classroom. Dyslexic student Kara S. has come a long way from the “slow reading table” she was forced to sit at in elementary school. She recently graduated from the University of San Francisco with a double major in physics and math.

“Parental support could only go so far,” Kara says. “I needed something more.” She credits her membership with Learning Ally as the key to igniting her passion for learning and increasing her confidence as a reader and student.

Membership Advantages

Students who qualify for membership with Learning Ally enjoy unlimited access to audiobooks from major publishers. The books are read by human narrators who include teachers, doctors, scientists and specialists in every subject—people who can explain every picture, diagram and chart. Students enjoy free software and flexibility to play their books on multiple devices. And a new feature for on-screen highlighting of text in select books will be released this fall.

To learn how your child can enjoy the advantages of Learning Ally membership, go to

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From Hardy Boys To Hunger Games: Free Library Service Keeps Blind Children Readingn

(NAPSI)—Like many 10-year-olds, Brandon Pickrel loves reading books about dinosaurs. And books about the weather—“tornadoes and stuff,” he says. “And books about science experiments.”

Brandon, who lives in McHenry, Maryland, is one of the thousands of children who enjoy audio and braille books from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress.

Brandon has been blind since birth, but he reads every day. When he was younger, it was the Junie B. Jones stories. Now he’s moved on to “James and the Giant Peach” and the Chronicles of Narnia.

He has plenty of books to choose from. NLS has more than 14,000 children’s book titles-both fiction and nonfiction-in audio and braille formats. There are Newbery Medal winners such as Rebecca Stead’s “When You Reach Me,” about a 12-year-old who gets notes from the future, and Coretta Scott King Award winners such as “We Are the Ship,” a history of baseball’s old Negro Leagues.

The NLS collection also includes books about children who are blind or have other disabilities, such as Brian Selznick’s “Wonderstruck,” and best sellers from the past, such as the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, and the present, including the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series (which are also being recorded in Spanish).

Popular magazines are available, too-Sports Illustrated for Kids, National Geographic Kids and more. And the NLS Music Section loans scores, textbooks and books about music in large print and braille and advises parents and instructors about resources for teaching music to blind and visually impaired children.

NLS youth librarian Jill Garcia says the key to choosing books for young readers is “to go back to what it was like to be a kid. Whether they are sighted or blind, children today enjoy the same kinds of books they always have: humor and adventure stories, superhero fiction, animal tales and stories about friends and school-those are always popular.” Though NLS does not provide textbooks, “we have many nonfiction titles, especially biographies and books about animals, that can supplement what children are learning in class,” Garcia says.

Any U.S. resident or citizen living abroad who is blind, has low vision or cannot hold or turn the pages of a book because of illness or disability may receive digital books, playback equipment and braille materials by mail, free of charge, from NLS cooperating libraries. Eligible readers with computers and Internet service have immediate access to thousands of titles online through the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service.

Find out more about NLS services for children and adults at or call 1-888-NLS-READ.

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Tips For Raising A Good Communicator

(NAPSI)—Most parents eagerly await their child’s first word-and many wonder about every language and literacy milestone thereafter. Language, however, is about so much more than just words and healthy communication. It can be the foundation of a child’s ability to succeed emotionally, socially and academically.

To help, a book revised to guide a new generation is back. “Beyond Baby Talk-From Speaking to Spelling: A Guide to Language and Literacy Development for Parents and Caregivers” (Random House) by Kenn Apel, Ph.D., CCC-SLP and Julie Masterson, Ph.D., CCCSLP, experts in child language, takes the mystery out of the developmental process. It shows simple milestones and easy activities that parents and grandparents can do to build strong language skills at home and on the go.

For example, parents should know that most infants have an inner desire to communicate and the ability to pick up at least the basics with minimal exposure to language. You don’t need flash cards, computer programs, lessons, incentives, correction or bribes to get your youngster to learn language. The best thing you can do is talk and read to your child.

Children’s brains are “wired” to learn a tremendous amount about language and communication. According to the book, parents should:

• Talk with their infants from their first day of life!;

• Use changing time, bath time and mealtime to “chat”;

• Establish a book-reading routine by the time a child is 2.

A recent study in Pediatrics showing that U.S. children 8 months to 8 years old are exposed to nearly four hours of background television in a typical day reminds parents to limit background media distractions while interacting with their kids. Previous research has shown negative associations between background television and kids’ cognitive and social outcomes.

The book highlights checkpoints to gauge a child’s progress and easy methods to:

• Understand the influence of media and technology on language development—and navigate through it;

• Evaluate and monitor spoken language development;

• Enhance literacy skills for improved spelling, reading and writing;

• Recognize the signs of language and literacy progress problems—and know when to seek professional help from a certified speech-language pathologist (SLP).

Save 20 percent*! Use promo code BBT20 at for special pricing.

*Offer is valid through 3/31/13 and cannot be combined with any other offers.

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Cake Pops Treats!

(NAPSI)—This holiday season, you can make your celebration really pop—by making cake pops.

They’re delicious, adorable and easy to create with the help of a holiday-themed cookbook, “Cake Pops Holidays by Bakerella,” a follow-up to the New York Times best-seller “Cake Pops.”

Star blogger Bakerella—Angie Dudley—has made cake pops the sweet baked treats that are so popular. Her new book shows how to make more than 20 different winter-themed cake pop creations including adorable little Christmas trees, silly snowmen, tiny gingerbread houses and many more.

The book includes step-by-step instructions and plenty of expert guidance, giving you the skills to make them, decorate them, display them or wrap them up for gifting. There are even tips and tricks for transporting and shipping them so your precious pops arrive safely.

To learn more or to order the book for yourself or as a gift (which is also available at book- and cooking stores), go to

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Money Matters For Visually Impaired People

(NAPSI)—All consumers need to understand the economy and personal finance, but it’s particularly important for people who are visually impaired, according to Thomas Galante, a vice president at the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation.

“People sometimes say to me, ‘I’m not working—why do I need to know about personal finance?’ It’s in everybody’s interest to understand personal finance,” Galante says. “It’s even more important for people who have fewer resources.”

Galante is a registered user of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a free program of the Library of Congress that has been producing and circulating audiobooks and braille books for more than 80 years.

“One way the NLS program has helped me is by providing popular business books—the self-help books, the management books,” Galante says. “These are books my peers are reading, so it helps just in terms of being conversant with colleagues.”

A Variety of Titles

Ardis Bazyn, an inspirational speaker and business coach, is also an NLS user. “I believe it is very important for blind individuals to read as much as possible in order to compete in this global economy,” she says.

Recent books on personal finance available to NLS users include “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth” by Ric Edelman and “Jim Cramer’s Getting Back to Even.”

NLS also produces books that have special relevance to its users, such as “Estate Planning for People with a Chronic Condition or Disability.” Books in Spanish-such as “Repare Su Crédito Hoy” (“How to Fix Your Credit”)--and magazines including Money, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, and The Economist are also available.

Who Is Eligible?

U.S. residents and American citizens living abroad who are blind, have low vision or cannot hold a book or turn its pages because of a physical disability are eligible. The service is provided through a network of libraries in each state. Audiobooks and braille books are delivered to users by mail; users return them by mail, postage free. NLS also provides the playback equipment. Those with computers and Internet service may download books through the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service.

For more information or to request an application, visit or call (888) NLS-READ.

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Free Library Service Helps Blind Pianist Keep On Playing

(NAPSI)—Ayaka Isono began studying piano at age 3 in her native Japan. After moving to the United States and graduating from Indiana University, she embarked on a successful career as a concert pianist. But when she was 29, she suddenly lost her eyesight because of a rare retinal disorder.

A decade later, Isono, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, is still performing—including a concert in Japan this past spring. She also gives private piano lessons to both sighted and visually impaired children and adults.

Isono has been able to continue playing the piano thanks to the braille music scores she receives from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). “I can’t imagine my career without them,” she says. “I really can’t.”

NLS, part of the Library of Congress, has been producing and circulating audiobooks and braille books for more than 80 years. It also has the world’s largest collection of braille music scores, according to John Hanson, head of the NLS Music Section. “In the United States, there is no other source for a wide range of braille music, whether one is considering variety of instruments, types of music or extent of repertoire,” he says.

But that’s not all that NLS offers music lovers. The collection includes more than 30,000 braille, audio and large-print music scores, texts and instructional materials, including some titles developed solely for NLS. Six music magazines are also available by subscription to registered users of the program.

That is in addition to many music-related audiobooks and braille books in the broader NLS collection, including best sellers such as Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ autobiography “Life” and rapper Jay-Z’s “Decoded.”

Who Is Eligible?

U.S. residents and American citizens living abroad who are blind, have low vision or cannot hold a book or turn its pages because of a physical disability are eligible for library service through NLS. Audiobooks, braille books and music materials are delivered and returned by mail, postage free. NLS also provides the necessary digital playback equipment. Those with computers and Internet service may download books—and soon, music scores—through the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service.

For more information or to request an application, visit or call (888) NLS-READ.

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Helping Teachers Make The Grade

(NAPSI)—As students return to the classroom this fall, teachers across the country will be working hard to either begin implementing or continue implementing the new Common Core State Standards.

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.

The new Common Core State Standards are forcing educators to change how they teach. This summer, many teachers nationwide spent time becoming familiar with standards and reviewing how they might need to adjust their lessons and activities to meet the standards.

One organization helping educators integrate the standards into their classroom instruction is ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), an educational leadership organization dedicated to advancing best practices and policies for the success of each learner.

ASCD has created a number of resources to help educators:

Professional Development Institutes

One- to three-day workshops provide information, awareness and training by acknowledged experts. These meetings encourage the exchange of ideas and experience and set the stage for additional course work.

On-site Training

ASCD provides on-site, customized, professional development to teachers at schools to build the local expertise for improved instruction.

This training can include a multitude of useful classes that cover the implementation of Common Core State Standards in math and English language arts classes.

Online Courses

For the ease of accessibility, convenience and cost effectiveness, ASCD also offers courses for teachers online. Their online courses span a broad range of topics. The courses cover not only teaching techniques but assessment methods that help to promote learning. Courses in common core mathematics are available for educators teaching grades K−5, 6−8, and 9−12. Common core courses for teachers on literacy strategies are also available in science, history/social studies and English language arts.

Support Materials

Finally, ASCD offers printed resources such as books, videos and DVDs to support educators and their continuing efforts to prepare for the new school year.

To learn more information on the Common Core State Standards, visit


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Tasteful Guides

(NAPSI)—People with a taste for travel—Including the armchair variety—may be glad to know about travel guides featuring such fascinating food facts as:

• Small plates with big taste in Spain: Tapas are small snacks that originated from a bartender’s practice of covering a glass with a saucer or tapa (cover). In Spain, it’s customary to move from bar to bar, sampling the specialties of each. Tapas are usually eaten standing.

• Enjoy a morning feast in Ireland: Traditionally, the Irish start the day with a huge breakfast: bacon, sausages, black pudding, eggs, tomatoes and brown bread. In Northern Ireland, add potato cakes and soda farls for an “Ulster Fry.”

• Take your time in Italy: Lunch is generally between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. and, particularly in the south, all other activity stops between these hours. Dinner is at about 7:30 p.m. and goes on until 11 p.m. or later.

• Beer for breakfast in Germany: The Bavarians’ hearty, no-nonsense dishes are what the world considers German cuisine. Weisswurst (white sausages with a beer pretzel) are enjoyed in the morning, often with a beer, while dinner might be soup with liver dumplings, roast pork, sauerkraut and a pile of potato dumplings.

• Take your pick in London: Borough Market’s busy stalls of regional and continental food are a microcosm of what Londoners eat. There are English and Irish cheeses, Scottish beef, Welsh lamb, Devon cider, Suffolk oysters and more.

These tasty tips come from DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, the genuine “all-in-one” guides for detailed information on food, sights, history, entertainment, shopping, transportation, maps, hotels and restaurants. Known for rich illustrations, custom-drawn cutaways, floor plans and reconstructions of major buildings and museums, they’re available where books are sold.

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