Tar Heel Reader Joins Building Wings
as Monarch Reader
A New Chapter in Accessible Books for Beginning Readers
Beginning in the summer of 2024, the Tar Heel online library of accessible books for beginning readers will be part of the Building Wings family of literacy instruction solutions.
Building Wings is proud to begin 2024 with the exciting news that it’s acquiring ownership of the Tar Heel Reader, marking a significant step in our continued commitment to creating accessible and inclusive reading experiences for all. Coming summer 2024, the digital library, which will be rebranded as Monarch Reader, will continue to bring accessible digital literature to users from more than 200 countries and territories.
History of Tar Heel Reader
Tar Heel Reader earned its impressive reputation as a free online platform providing a large collection of accessible, easy-to-read books for individuals with various learning needs. The digital library was founded in 2008 by Dr. Gary Bishop and Dr. Karen Erickson at UNC-Chapel Hill. By transferring ownership to Building Wings, the site, which will be rebranded as “Monarch Reader,” continues its valuable work of helping emergent readers engage more actively in reading and gain deeper meaning from texts.
What does this change mean for users of the Tar Heel Reader?
The library’s content is both age-appropriate and age-respectful for young and older readers. Accessibility for all is central to the Building Wings mission of breaking down learning barriers and providing tools that enable everyone to access the knowledge they seek and Monarch Reader will be an additional puzzle piece to enable that.
Key Benefits of the Acquisition
One Site, More Knowledge
One of the immediate benefits is the compatibility of the Tar Heel Reader’s extensive library with literacy instruction solutions Readtopia, ReadtopiaGO, and Newstopia. For any topic about which students want to learn more from our own curriculum–be that rugby, super volcanoes on Pluto, or Cleopatra–they can enter the relevant search term into Monarch Reader to access pertinent content. Shared Reading and Self-directed reading are a part of comprehensive literacy, and Monarch helps support comprehension by building background knowledge and topical connections. This keeps students interested in and a participant of their own learning.
Supporting Research-Based Instructional Routines
High-quality instructional routines are essential to helping teachers accommodate a wide array of learning styles and student needs when teaching literacy. Readtopia and ReadtopiaGO are evidence-based lessons that promote literacy development. In support of that development and by partnering with Monarch Reader, teachers will be better able to:
- Provide modeling and thinking aloud
- Use a multisensory approach
- Provide scaffolds for differentiated instruction
- Build background knowledge
- Spark student curiosity
- Engage students with shared reading
- Encourage self-directed and independent reading
Building Shared Reading Experiences
Monarch Reader supports shared reading experiences because the digital library is accessible from anywhere that has an internet connection, meaning that emergent readers, special education teachers, occupational therapists, families, and other caregivers can all engage in the reading experience with their students.