Top tips to help your dyslexic child enjoy reading
Reading might be difficult for some dyslexic children, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy it. We have tips to help you inspire them to love books.
- Encourage your child to read by finding topics that interest them and that they’re keen to learn more about, or simply enjoy for entertainment.
- Choose the right books. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because they have dyslexia, they have to read simple books. One sure-fire way of putting children off is to give them books that aren’t age-appropriate or that seem boring. Talk to them about what they want to read and really listen to the answer.
- Encourage discussion. What would they do if they were the character in the book? By discussing the book and empathising with characters, your child will feel more involved.
- When reading with your child, leave them wanting more. Plan ahead so you try to end a reading session on a cliffhanger. Your child will be more likely to want to return to the session to find out what’s coming next.
- Find a book with a character who shares their name. This makes the story more personal and at least one word they are likely to recognise on a regular basis. You can also buy tailor-made books featuring names of friends, family members and pets.
- Create a cartoon about the characters by following a storyline or making one up.
- Try graphic novels. You might think that graphic novels are childish or inferior to ‘proper’ books, but they can be a godsend for someone with a reading problem. Dialogue is short and sparse and text is chunky. The pictures help with telling the story, too.
- Encourage your child to find out more about the author. Perhaps there’s a ‘meet the author’ session at your local library or online. Go along or sign up, listen to them speak, find out more about them and encourage your child to ask them questions.
- Don’t be too concerned about what they’re reading. It could be a magazine, a pamphlet, a comic or a non-fiction book. What matters is that they are reading!
- Don’t bang on about why they should be reading. If your child is a reluctant reader, remember they might not care two hoots about books. Instead, hook them in with the contents. Pick up a non-fiction book in a shop and tantalise them with facts about something they’re interested in. Football, ballet, rugby, animals, cricket, mysteries, superheroes or scary stories – whatever they’re into, there’ll be a book about it.
- Don’t just stick with books. If your child loves music, try printing out the lyrics of their favourite songs and encouraging them to read along as they listen to the tune. Try getting them to listen to a line and write down the words.
- Look for film and merchandise tie-ins. Engaging in a book can be so much more satisfying with other stimuli to tap into. If your child loves Doctor Who, look for text-based merchandise (such as games, sticker books or spin-off books) to accompany the TV programmes.
- Read to your child. Let them listen and follow the story while you throw yourself into the drama. Your love of reading will transfer to your child.
- Never say a book is too big or difficult for your child. Instead, if the content is appropriate, let them have a go.
- Create a home library. Help your child organise a bookcase with non-fiction and fiction, just like their school or local library.
- Use audiobooks with a companion book. Your child can listen to the story and the speech helps them identify words in the text at the same time. Listening to a book while reading along is a great way for a child to get used to the association between sounds and the written word. It also makes the story zip along when they simply aren’t in the mood to persevere.
- Let your child see you reading. Just because you can read, that doesn’t mean your child will copy you. Do they ever see you reading for pleasure? Be honest, is reading part of your life? If you never manage to make time to enjoy a good book, how can you expect them to take to it like a duck to water? Let them see you read and they might just get curious.
- Tell tall tales. If the written word is hard work, get your child used to telling stories. The structure of a beginning, middle and an end will seem easier to cope with in text form when they get to it. Encourage them to tell you about their day in a linear fashion or recount the details of your day in story form.