Learning Challenges

Dear ADDitude: Will My Dyslexic Child Ever Read for Fun?

“My daughter has been diagnosed with dyslexia. Motivating her to read during the school year is especially difficult; during the summer, it is downright impossible. Do you have any recommendations for motivating a child with weak language skills?”

Dyslexia and reading seem like contradictory concepts when put together, but the truth is that it’s far from that. You can be dyslexic and develop a strong love for reading. What’s more, you can teach your dyslexic child to love books, too. Here’s how our readers do it.

Fun and Games

If your child has dyslexia, then she would have trouble recognizing sight words like ‘said’ and ‘the’ and ‘from.’ She probably has difficulty with sounding out or decoding words, too.

For this, you can find fun games and activities on my Pinterest board titled Sight Words. I find these games can really motivate a child to practice his or her skills in fun ways.

Audiobooks are also very, very beneficial, especially if you’re listening to them together with your child. The key is interacting with your child and questioning as they’re listening to help them process the story and demonstrate what they understand. Say you’re in your car listening to an audiobook as a family. When you stop for gas, ask your child, “What do you think is going to happen next?” Or, “What just happened?” Or, “What was the best part?” “Whoa, can you visualize that scene? What does that guy look like? Where is he going to? How do you imagine it in your head?”

Audiobooks will never impede reading. They will only advance reading by helping to develop their language, listening and comprehension skills. Listening to audiobooks really, truly develops a child’s vocabulary. The key to good writing is to listen to lots of good books, because good writers pick up the language. They pick up the structure. They pick up what they like that other authors do well that they enjoy. So, the more they read or the more they listen, the more advanced their writing skills will become.

– Answered by Sandra Rief, M.A.

[Could Your Child be Dyslexic? Take This Test]

Putting on a Play

One fun way to build up kids’ reading fluency is to rehearse and practice a play. I like to use ‘Readers’ Theater Scripts’, which are little scripts that are meant for kids of different ages. But you could create a play out of any book that your child is reading. “I take this character. You take that one.” This prompts them to read, and reread, and reread a text at their level.

Another great strategy is to print out lyrics to songs and read that poetry. I like the websites Giggle Poetry and Poetry4Kids for cute, short, little poems that kids enjoy reading and rehearsing.

In the end, the love of reading comes with the ease of reading. It’s the same for any subject – when our kids don’t know how to do it properly or effectively, they drift off or it’s so frustrating that they don’t want to do it. You can ease this frustration by saying, “Pick any book you want.” Don’t worry about whether your child is reading at a certain grade level; right now, their comfort level is more important.

It also helps to have a set “reading time” for everyone in the house. Bedtime may or may not work, depending on your child’s focus and medication. Regardless, they can choose to read a newspaper, a book, a magazine, even comic books. There are plenty of really great science magazines. Whatever is of interest. Start at 15 minutes and work up to 30 minutes. For some kids with ADHD, that amount of reading time is excruciating, so be sure to praise your child for what he’s done and his effort. Also, don’t be afraid to use audiobooks. If it’s possible, encourage your child to read along with the audiobook. This can improve skills because he’s learning vocabulary while getting a sense of how certain words are pronounced, the intonation, even punctuation, the pauses where they need to come. It’s a great way to learn.

– Answered by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, ADHD coach

[Click to Read: Book Smart: Literature for Children with ADHD and Learning Disabilities]

Read What You Want

Reading comprehension and retention is often a struggle for those with ADHD, due to poor working memory.

Make sure she can read whatever she chooses. Take her to the library and help her find books that she’s so interested in or excited about she can’t resist. Magazines and non-fiction count, too. It’s helpful for you to read to her or to get audiobooks. She doesn’t have to be the one reading to get a benefit from it.

– Answered by Penny (ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism)

Sneak in Reading Wherever Possible

I would buy her a magazine next time your out grocery shopping. She probably won’t notice that its a ploy to practice reading, just a nice gesture.

I’m not sure of her age, but also taking her to the library if you ever have a couple hours of free time.

Make it out to be an errand you have to run versus “Let’s go to the library.” Act as if it is for you, not her. When my mother would drag my brother and I to the library (he has ADHD as well), we would get so bored that we’d have no choice but to read through books. If she’s like us, we hate to be bored.

– Posted by Cori_M27

Irlen Therapy

Look into Irlen therapy with colored transparencies / lens filters. Sounds silly but my daughter in 2nd grade really struggles with reading. She claims the words float around the page. We looked into Irlen and, with the colored lenses, the words “stay still” and she can read books at a 5th grade level. Amazing.

– Posted by Rick

[Read This Next: “How My Dyslexic Son Fell Out of Love with Books and How I Brought Him Back”]