#captionsON™ Reading Campaign Inspires Kids to Turn Screen Time into Reading Time  


Just 30 minutes of screen time with captions ON is like reading 30 pages of a 5th grade book, motivating struggling readers to ‘Be. CAPTION.COOL’ during TV, online shows, and games.

Recognizing that 65% of American children are not proficient in reading—yet spend hours daily “glued” to screens—the new #captionsON Reading Campaign educates parents and teachers that screen time can be a form of reading time. All TV’s and channels, as well as online videos and most games, have built-in Closed Captioning functionality (CC), and it is easy, free, and cool to click captions ON. The #captionsON campaign is geared toward kids ages 8-12 but can benefit anyone with literacy challenges.

Many educators and parents have a visceral reaction against students spending time looking at screens, but screen time can and should be productive,” said Leib Lurie, Caption.Cool  Founder and co-founder of Kids Read Now. “With captions on, 30 minutes of screen time has a similar benefit, in building reading skills as 30 pages of a book. Our core mission is to improve literacy. A key success factor will come from turning captions on as automatic as buckling your seatbelt when you get in the car.”

Most tweens and teens spend 5 – 7 hours a day consuming screen time, which is increasing as a result of school closures and other learning disruptions related to COVID-19. As so many students struggle with reading, teachers and parents need better ways to boost reading scores. Evidence-based research shows the use of closed captioning can improve reading skills.

Chris Piper, the superintendent of Troy City (Ohio) Schools, commented: “At Troy City Schools, we have worked to deepen our literacy instruction and seek innovative ways to encourage our students to read. We endorse #captionsON because we believe it will motivate more children, particularly disadvantaged youth and English language learners, to turn their screen time into reading time.”

The #captionsON campaign is part of the Caption.Cool broader mandate to fuse literacy, technology, and empathy.  The Caption.Cool Reading Family, a diverse set of characters led by Capty, the Caption Cool unicorn will champion literacy to kids through relatable life stories of the characters and grow with the influence of Caption.Cool Literacy Champions. The C.C Champions are passionate literacy advocates from all walks of life who openly share their motivation behind promoting #captionsON and being ‘Caption.Cool’ to incentivize kids to improve their reading skills by sharing their love of reading.

CC Literacy Champion Laura Bemus, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, said, “I’m Caption.Cool because reading is so important and exposure to text, like captions, builds fluency and comprehension for students. My lifelong love of reading was established as a child and through making choices of great reading material of high interest.”

The campaign’s launch initiatives include an engaging 60-second animated video and the #captionsOn Reading Family Engagement Kit containing information for parents, and a full sheet of vibrant stickers for kids to pre-order at Caption.Cool. A social media Face-Swap E-card campaign geared towards younger kids and parents to share their faces in Caption.Cool characters complement the launch initiatives.

The CAPTION.COOL  journey began in 1992

In 1992, serial entrepreneur Leib Lurie started his first Closed Captioning reading initiative and never wavered in his belief that closed captioning could improve reading skills. (click video here) Even in 1992 he was concerned about kids and “screen time” (then TV time), although the term “screen time” had not yet been coined!

In 2012, Leib and his wife, Barbara Lurie, a teacher and reading specialist who saw the effects of children who weren’t reading at grade level, co-founded Kids Read Now, a K-3 in-home summer reading program. Kids Read Now, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, gifted 400,000 books this year to 60,000 students in 18 states.

Leib’s long-time passion project to “turn screen time into reading time” came to creative life when he and Barb reached out to long-time marketing partner Gloria Maxx who created the Caption.Cool concept, brand, and diverse cast of empathy-based characters inspired by her experiences as a bullied immigrant child whose best friends were books.

Charlotte’s Web is the first book I read as a kid.  I loved the characters as their actions gave me strength to find my voice through life’s adversities,” says Gloria Maxx, Caption.Cool Co-Founder and COO. “We want to emulate that experience to kids who struggle with reading by offering them stories they can resonate with which champion reading with captions on.”

With #captionsON, kids read along with closed captions during screen time, which allows children with low literacy rates who consume several hours of screen time daily to improve their reading skills, which ultimately improves their lives and future potential. Caption.Cool is an innovative, independent campaign for literacy with a single focus on making the use of captions (subtitles) an “automatic reflex” during all screen time, as it is now second nature to “buckle up” seat belts when driving. The diverse Caption.Cool team members hail from six countries, including the United States and Canada.

Learn more at Caption.Cool and click #captionsON!

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

Current issue of Equity & Access:

Equity & Access - Issue 28

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