Online Reading Program Seeks Greater Text Diversity, Intros Literacy Leader Network

An online reading program has pledged to double its content library with more diverse selections. Reading Plus, whose program is used in 5,000-plus schools, will expand its selections to 2,500 texts. The expansion of content will address curriculum needs in STEM, social studies and American civics, the company said in a press release, with an emphasis on the experiences of Black students, people of color and others who have been traditionally underrepresented.

The program provides 60 hours of instruction, to develop comprehension, vocabulary and silent reading fluency for students in grades 3-12. It uses a "guided window," which, according to the company, directs students' eyes across the text to strengthen visual skills, while building stamina and motivation.

Reading Plus has also announced its first advocacy group to advise the company on teacher and student needs.

The company works with a number of publishers to identify texts to use in the program, including Science News for Students, Highlights, The Guardian, Cricket Media, ABDO and Cherry Lake Publishing.

"Everyone deserves to see themselves and their communities in the materials they read," said Randi Bender, chief content officer at Reading Plus, in a press release. "My editorial team combs through thousands of texts to find the best content that respects and reflects all cultures, backgrounds and personal interests."

"Rich content excites and motivates even the most reluctant readers," added La'Keisha Ciprian, a regional customer success partner at the company. "At Reading Plus, we know that students who connect with texts become more engaged, which fuels their learning and sets them up for success."

Nearly two dozen reading specialists and tutors, teachers, curriculum directors and school leaders have joined Reading Plus' new Literacy Leaders Network. The idea of the network is to influence product development through "open dialogue and collaboration, sharing insight into the needs of today's educators and students."

"It's an honor being selected as a member of the inaugural class of Reading Plus's Literacy Leaders Network," noted Jill Schneider, who serves as an English teacher to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in Ohio's Sycamore Community Schools. "As a teacher, I've witnessed the positive impact the program has on our students. I look forward to working with other educators across the country to ensure the company continues empowering teachers and supporting the individualized needs of students."

About the Author

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