Turning My Special Needs “Reluctant Reader” into an “Engaged Reader”

Posted by Big Universe on Oct 24, 2012 1:37:55 AM
Do you have a “reluctant reader” at home? One who will only pick up a book because you threatened to take video-game time away? Some of us have a child who will do anything to avoid reading: from forgetting books at school, to just plain “goofing off” during reading, to counting down to when the 20 minute reading timer is going to go off. The nightly struggle with children who refuse to read gets old fast. For my seven-year-old son, who is “high functioning” on the autism spectrum, his reading reluctance is due to a lack of interest and difficulty.

When my son repeated Kindergarten, he struggled with decoding and recognizing basic sight words, and his reluctance to read increased. When he went to the library with his class at school, he didn’t bring any books home. Realizing this, his teachers identified his lack of interest in fiction books, allowing him to take out non-fiction books, reserved for first graders. Suddenly, he came home from school with books: military, science, and even how-to books. My son became excited for library day, making sure to find his library books to return, so he could take new ones out – without me even reminding him.

As my son has a team of teachers trained to address his reading difficulties, I found that my role at home is encouraging reading. I am now selective in what I read to my children at night. I don’t bother with poorly written children’s books (there are many out there, and I won’t name names!) or books that I myself find boring (and I have found myself editing down extraneous details and conversations to move things along). I read chapter books – like The Magic Tree House and Harry Potter – to them because I need to be genuinely interested in reading too.

I also added reading from Big Universe to our homework routine. Having a virtual library of high-interest books at our fingertips is an investment in my children’s future. I ask them, “Pick out an electronic book to read,” and both boys run to the computer, choosing a picture book, a graphic novel (aka comic book) or a book from the “high interest” category. One will turn the electronic pages while the other reads (or listens to a read-aloud version).

And the best part: I don’t hear, “how much time is left?”

Topics: Personal Experiences

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