How my Dyslexic son changed my definition of reading
I think we can all say reading is an essential skill.
But nowadays the question isn’t just what to read but how to read it.
Print Book, eBook, Audible Book, Comic Book, and so on.
For me reading a book is immersive experience. It’s not just about the words on the page, but also about the sound of pages turning, the feel of the paper, and the smell. I will always choose a print book over an eBook. There’s even research saying that reading a physical book leads to better memory retention. (Winning!)
So, when it came time for my oldest to learn to read, I was ecstatic.
He learned to read in his own time, but I couldn’t get him to read anything that had more words than pictures. I struggled with the idea of a reluctant reader in my home. Books are magic to me. So of course, I tried harder. He fought me. We both were disheartened.
It took some time, but we discovered our oldest has Dyslexia. Not enough to have an obvious struggle with reading, but enough to struggle to find enjoyment in reading. (How to spot the early signs of Dyslexia)
So, I had to re-define what reading was, in order to make reading engaging and enjoyable to my son.
I wanted reading to be a joy not a battle ground, so I had to re-define how I viewed reading. Which was no small feat, but the conclusion I came to is reading is reading no matter the format.
Here is a bit of my journey through this redefinition.
Audiobooks aren't the newest things on the block. They actually were what sustained me on long drives back and forth from college. So, I had no trouble integrating audiobooks in our car rides. My kids actually prefer a story over music. Plus, it’s usually the only way to keep the hands, arguing, and crazy at bay in the car.
There is also a bit of research out there that indicate audiobooks stimulate the same parts of our brain as reading a book does. Benefits of Audiobooks
Reading on tablets is still reading the same book you would in a physical copy, but it comes with its downsides. Many studies have shown that reading ebooks reduces reading comprehension, you remember less about the books timeline and events and require a higher cognitive workload by staring at a screen. (Source and Research Articles)
There are even programs and aps like SORA and Learning Ally that will read the book out loud like a sing-along to help with word tracking and recognition. Which have been great tools in our son's reading journey.
Now here comes the rub, where I struggled the most.
The area I struggled with the most was let my kids read comic books. Comic books have a bad stigma. I don’t really know why, but just like any stereotype it is handed to you by your surroundings and the media. Part of me had to be schooled in the similarities between comic books and picture books, which are the bread and butter of a children’s library. Truthfully the only “difference between children’s books and comics are illustrations. Children’s books tend to almost always follow traditional narrative form, letting the words describe the action and the setting, etc., rather than letting the images “speak” for themselves. This makes the pictures in children’s books more extraneous to the actual story line rather than actually illustrative.” (Source)
Then I started noticing that many great books for youth audiences were also producing a Graphic Novel version. I balked and grumbled at this idea. But then, when my reluctant reader was introduced to the graphic novel section of the library, his desire to read skyrocketed. I saw him engaged and excited about reading, which is what I was wanting in the first place. Scholastic Books has an article on Raising Super Readers about the benefits of Comic Books and Graphic novels
So, in our home, books come in all shape sizes and formats. While reading graphic novels out loud to my kids hurts my eyes and head. I am thankful to an industry that is trying to adjust and be aware of how kids relate to the written word and providing content for them to experience the joys of reading.
In the last few years, we have seen the fruit of changing the way we approach reading. The library is an exciting place to go for my dyslexic kiddos, and he even loves to help out in the library at school. This makes my book loving heart sing.
How do you encourage your reluctant reader?
Do you need help to encourage your young reader? Grab this free PDF and join my kids in the 100 Book Summer Challenge
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