Celebrating International Literacy Day with SAS Read Aloud


SAS Read AloudIncreasingly, third graders who aren't reading proficient are more likely to become high school dropouts [1]. Our education system has drawn a clear line: third graders must read at grade level. Why?

  • K-2 education devotes more time and greater emphasis to reading.
  • Reading skills required to learn across subject areas become critical in grades 3 to 12.
  • Remediation becomes more difficult after second grade.

At SAS, we've built tools that students, parents, and teachers can use to help emergent readers. We began by asking ourselves, "How do you get a third grader to read at grade level?" Naturally, the answer is to get a second grader to read at grade level. So the question becomes, "How do you get a second grader to read at grade level?" Soon you're trying to get a one-month-old to read at grade level.

To break that (almost) infinite regress, we focused on tools children as young as three could use through third grade; we targeted early and emergent reading skills (i.e., phonological and written language awareness) [2]. We understood the value of interactive, shared reading experiences as an instructional technique for acquiring emergent reading skills [3, 4]. From this foundation, we began SAS® Read Aloud. We implemented strategies such as word-by-word highlighting and guided word interaction to draw emergent readers' visual attention to the print so they could understand how letters, words, sounds, and structure combine to form sentences and stories.

Read Aloud provides free access to numerous books with three unique reading modes: Read to Me, Help Me Read, and Read by Myself. Parents, teachers, and students can record themselves reading the book of their choice. Readers can see words highlighted as the familiar voice speaks each word.

SAS Read Aloud

SAS Read Aloud

Reading Modes

  • Read to Me – Words highlight as the book is automatically read aloud. Readers experience the intonation, rhythm, and stress provided by each speaker.
  • Help Me Read – Readers are guided through the book and control the reading pace. Readers focus on developing print knowledge skills and identifying words.
  • Read by Myself – Readers can progress through books silently and select only the words they would like to hear. This traditional approach allows readers to build confidence with selected support from speakers on specific words.

Read Aloud is our first step to support early and emergent readers as they strive for proficient reading and lifelong learning.

Download from the App Store


[1] Hernandez, D.J. (2012). Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation. A Annie E. Casey Foundation Report.

[2] Justice, L.M., & Lankford, C. (2002). Preschool Children’s Visual Attention to Print During Storybook Reading. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 24(1), 11-21.

[3] Bus, A. G., van IJzendoorn, M. H., & Pellegrini, A. D. (1995). Joint Book Reading Makes for Success in Learning to Read: A Meta-Analysis on Intergenerational Transmission of   Literacy. Review of Educational Research, 65(1), 1-21.

[4] Lane, H. B., & Wright, T. L. (2007). Maximizing the effectiveness of reading aloud. The Reading Teacher, 60(7), 668-675.



About Author

Scott McQuiggan

Scott McQuiggan leads SAS® Curriculum Pathways®, an interdisciplinary team focused on the development of no-cost educational software in the core disciplines at SAS. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from North Carolina State University in 2009, where his research focused on affective reasoning in intelligent game-based learning environments. His research has been published in more than 30 journal articles and refereed conference proceedings, and been recognized through several best paper nominations including Best Student Paper Award at the International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction.

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