Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Promoting Reading at Home

03/16/2018 | Published by: Becky Tarwater

I love to read. Reading is a favorite pastime and an important way for me to learn. When I became a parent, it was a priority to help my children become life-long readers. My children each had learning differences, so we got creative to help them become readers.

Our oldest son, Ryan, was non-verbal and used a wheelchair to get around. He also had limited vision, so we were not sure if he could see to read books. We started reading out loud to him at an early age. We read many classic books like “Treasure Island,” “Black Beauty,” and “The Three Musketeers.”

When Katelyn, his little sister, came along, we continued that tradition. Each night before bedtime, both kids crowded into Ryan’s bed for the nighttime ritual.

When Ryan learned to access switches, we attached his “Talking Books” tape recorder to a switch so that he could initiate reading himself. We gathered in his room and enjoyed hearing him “tell” the stories through his device. A favorite family read was “Hank the Cow Dog” stories.

Katelyn was more of a challenge. She was fine with family members reading to her, but she didn’t like reading herself. We started her out with very short stories and progressed up to chapter books. At first, we would read a paragraph to her, then would have her read a sentence, trying to make sure she had success with those short sentences.

We eventually got her up to reading a page at a time. Truth be told, she never did get that fire for reading. But she did become a good reader and a successful student.

Brendan liked reading at an early age. He especially liked fact-based books on anything from trains to Egyptology, to the study of animals. However, he would not pick out a book of fiction to read.

When his cousin, Raven, a struggling reader, came to live with us, we decided it was time to get them both more excited about reading. We picked Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series to help us tackle both boys’ reading. Each of us had our own copy of the book, and each evening we would all read a page to the other “book club” members.

We finished that book, then continued with other books recommended for adolescent boys. Before long, Dad and I did not need to encourage reading. Both boys became avid readers and still are great readers today.

If you want your children to be good readers, encourage them to read. Read to your children. Give your children access to books. Go to the library. If your child has vision problems, dyslexia, or other limits to reading, go to the Talking Books Program at Texas State Library application page.

Here are many other articles that discuss and share ideas to improve and encourage reading.

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