Literacy at Home

Campaign Urges Turning Captions on to Improve Reading Skills

Want to promote more reading? Encourage students and families to turn on the captions while they stream video. That's what a new literacy campaign targeting students aged 8 to 12 is promoting. "#captionsON" is an initiative launched by Caption Cool. Caption Cool has no products other than free stickers it will send to any teacher, administrator, parent or literacy champion who signs up on its website.

According to the organization, 30 minutes of screen time with captions on is comparable to reading 30 pages of a grade 5 book.

Caption Cool was created by Leib Lurie, co-founder of Kids Read Now, a nonprofit that produces a K-3 summer reading program and gifts books to students across the country. Lurie entered the literacy business in the early 1990s with a $249 appliance that would plug into a VCR and show captions on the television screen. He and his wife, Barbara Lurie, a teacher and reading specialist, launched Kids Read Now in 2012.

Their latest project has drawn the attention of "literacy champions," including educators, to promote the practice of running captions during student screen time.

"We endorse #captionsON because we believe it will motivate more children, particularly disadvantaged youth and English language learners, to turn their screen time into reading time," said Chris Piper, superintendent of Troy City Schools in Ohio, in a testimonial on the Caption Cool website. Troy is where Caption Cool is located.

"Reading is so important and exposure to text, like captions, builds fluency and comprehension for students," added Laura Bemus, assistant superintendent of curriculum for Greenville City Schools in Ohio. "My lifelong love of reading was established as a child and through making choices of great reading material of high interest."

More information about #captionsOn is available through the Caption Cool website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.