For most people, reading comes as easily as picking up a book, magazine or newspaper. For others, including the visually impaired and learning disabled, literacy takes a much less conventional route. As a result, Books Aloud Inc. was established in 1973 to make the "world of books" accessible to everyone. Recently, the Sharks Foundation was able to observe just how Books Aloud fulfills this mission.
Located within San Jose's Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Books Aloud houses a recording studio, editing room and library. Volunteers are always on the move, checking books in and out and recording new books to be added to the library's impressive cache. Books Aloud offers three primary services to its clients; "Reading by Listening" provides free recorded books, "Sight and Sound" lends printed and audio book kits and the Mini-Library Program provides materials to special education teachers.
As a 2011-12 Sharks Foundation grant recipient, Books Aloud was able to provide 20 mini-libraries to local special needs classrooms, systematically helping children to improve their reading skills and enhance the quality of their education. Teachers are given tape players, headsets and audio books that can be updated each month if desired. Children who may have never opened a book are suddenly able to "read by listening."
Books Aloud has served thousands of clients since its inception and can regale copious success stories. Joyce Meurer, Executive Director of the organization, shared one such story with the Sharks Foundation. As she remembers, "One youth was diagnosed dyslexic and referred to us. By the time he was in the 7th grade he was on honor roll and had a huge party to celebrate!" She continues, "The Sharks Foundation's grant has enabled us to reach out to many more special needs students to give them a better quality of life and a sense of independence."
Visit www.booksaloud.org for more information on Books Aloud.