LPS expands the wonder of reading for students with hundreds of new audiobooks

Destinei, Kolton and Avi have all become literacy stars at Pershing Elementary School with their bright work ethic in the classroom.
They will have additional chances to increase their comet-sized reading talents with more than 130 new Wonderbooks in the library. Wonderbooks are hardcover books with a small audiobook player built into the front cover, allowing students to listen to a narrator while they read along and comprehend the printed text. The devices include play, pause, rewind and fast-forward buttons and a headphone jack for readers to use.

Kolton, a fourth-grade student at Pershing, said he was happy to learn that more Wonderbooks will be available. 

“They go off the shelf all the time,” Kolton said. “You want to get one but a lot of the time they’re out, so having more will be good.”

Wonderbooks are the latest way that Lincoln Public Schools students are deepening their reservoirs of reading knowledge. The school district purchased 2,768 Wonderbooks totaling $157,101 using Title I funds for 23 elementary and middle schools this summer. Now, LPS Library Services are working to catalog each book and pass them out to 18 elementary and five middle school libraries.
Destinei and Avi also beamed when they heard about the extra books. Destinei, a fifth-grade student, began looking at “Aaron Slater, Illustrator” before picking up a chapter book called “The Wild Robot.” Avi, a third-grade student, took over “Aaron Slater, Illustrator” and smiled as he read from a library bench.
“I like the books,” Avi said. “I like reading them and looking at the pictures.”
“They’re nice because you can choose if you want to have someone reading it to you while you’re reading along, or if you want to read it by yourself with no sound,” Destinei said. “You have choices with them.”

The 18 elementary schools will each receive 136 Wonderbooks for their library shelves, and the five middle schools will each receive 64 books. Each middle school will also have 66 additional Playaway books, which are an advanced-level version of Wonderbooks.
Ashley Dorcey said she is excited to have the new books at Pershing. Dorcey teaches library and computer science lessons to more than 400 students each week. She said the books will supplement the in-depth reading skills students are already learning in their classrooms.
“These are a great resource for our students,” Dorcey said. “The kids just eat them up. They’re serious about their reading, so to have more of these books available is going to be wonderful. I know they’re going to use them every time they’re in the library.”

Dorcey and LPS Coordinator of Library Services Joy Harvey both said the importance of the Wonderbook initiative is especially clear on International Literacy Day, which is on Sept. 8. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established International Literacy Day in 1967. The organization declared that reading should be a foundational human right for everyone in the world.
UNESCO said in July that illiteracy has become a major issue across the globe. The organization said an estimated 763 million people currently lack basic reading skills.
“From a literacy standpoint, these books can help every student learn to read more fluently,” Harvey said. “Kids are going to be able to comprehend material using both the print and audio tools, and their vocabulary and background knowledge will increase too. It’s pretty empowering.”
The Wonderbooks will benefit students of all reading abilities. The LPS inventory includes picture books, early chapter books, chapter books and nonfiction books. They teach literacy skills ranging from short words to complex story plots.
Books for younger readers have many illustrations and focus on repetition, vocabulary and simple plots. Chapter books have a larger word count and feature plots that require higher-level comprehension skills. Nonfiction books are for a wide variety of grade levels and provide information about people, animals, science and social studies.
Wonderbooks are available for students in both English and Spanish. A one-hour charge provides enough battery power for ten hours of audio narration.
Hundreds of LPS students will use the new Wonderbooks throughout the school year. That list includes Destinei, Kolton and Avi, who will continue to be bright stars in Pershing’s literacy galaxy.
“They’re really cool,” Kolton said. “It’s going to be fun to read them.”

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Published: September 8, 2023, Updated: September 9, 2023

Ashley Dorcey smiles with Pershing Elementary School students Avi, Kolton and Destinei as they hold new Wonderbooks. Dorcey, the school's librarian, will add 136 audiobooks to the shelves. Lincoln Public Schools purchased 2,768 Wonderbooks for 18 elementary and five middle school libraries.