Practicing reading is important for a plethora of reasons. I get it. Yet, in my house, it can often be a major battle! As the parent of a child who has dyslexia, I often feel like I’m walking along a tightrope. How hard do I push reading practice vs down time? Should I just let him relax? Isn’t he exhausted from reading all day during school?
And, like all parents, I often worry if I’m doing the right mix. Recently, my son has taken off with his love of books, so I wanted to share some strategies that we’ve found that work for us.
Eye Reading – It All Counts!
I used to spend hours upon hours searching for the “perfect” chapter book series – not too hard, and not too “babyish.” One day, a light bulb went off – ALL reading counts as practice! When I finally broke out of the chapter book mentality, a weight lifted off my shoulders.
So, what do we do?
- MagazinesMagazines are not baby books, yet they offer snippets of writing mixed in with interesting photos! This is perfect for reading practice! To Try: Ranger Rick or National Geographic Kids.
- Poetry BooksPoetry offers OPTIONS – kids can flip through the books and find a poem that is “just right” – or they can challenge themselves with a more difficult piece. To try: Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic
- Comic Books Many kids with dyslexia LOVE comics. They offer small chunks of reading mixed with photos for a “brain break.” This is not as overwhelming to a struggling reader as a page full of only text. To Try: Babysitter’s Club or Capstone Nonfiction Comics
Ear Reading – When to Follow Along with an Audiobook
Like eyeglasses for a child who is nearsighted, embracing audiobooks opened up a whole new world for my son! Yet, even more questions emerged. Do I force him to follow along with the text? Just listen?
Both strategies have merit.
If your child chooses a book that is very close to their eye reading level, following along with a human-narrator can actually help improve reading fluency, demonstrate proper pronunciation of words, and help with word identification and comprehension.
Ear Reading – Pure Audio Allows Many Benefits Too
While following along does have several benefits, forcing a reluctant reader to follow along can also have serious drawbacks – like turning them off to reading all together!
The good news is purely listening to books ALSO has some pretty big benefits!
Most students who have dyslexia can comprehend books that are two or more grade levels above their current eye reading level. Forcing them to follow along with multiple words that are well above their decoding level can lead to frustration ….and the dreaded “I HATE reading!!!!” scream.
Letting go of the “they must always follow along” mindset can actually foster a love of literature. Beyond that, they are still gaining vocabulary, background knowledge, and a self-esteem boost from being able to talk to their friends about books.
In addition to reading in all kinds of ways at home, we also do Wilson Reading intervention at school. It’s a balance! At home, he decides what he wants to read, and that, in turn, leads to how he’s going to access the material – only eye, ear/eye combo, or only ear. We’ve found his independence, self-awareness and love of reading has truly blossomed!
What are your tips? Leave them in the comments below!
About the author: Jules Johnson is the social media leader for Learning Ally, a nonprofit that helps students and adults with print disabilities. To find out more about Learning Ally, including our library of over 80,000 human narrated audiobooks, log onto LearningAlly.org
– Jules Johnson
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