The Literacy Nest

How to Get Your Dyslexic Child Engaged and Excited About Summer Reading

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Getting your dyslexia child to want to read this summer can sometimes be a challenge. I have students whose moms reveal their kids will simply not pick up a book on their own. They will however, if mom or dad initiates it, and provides a bit of support like reading together, reading aloud or listening on audio. I know these moms are eager to have their children get over the hump and WANT them read just for the sake of pleasure, without coaxing them. It's hard.  I totally get that, especially if YOU yourself were an avid reader as a child and still are.  There are some things we can do to catch a spark and light the flame, though!

Today, Alison, mom of a dyslexia child is sharing tips to get your kids engaged and excited about summer reading. If you have anything to add to her ideas, please let us know in the comments. Thank you!

How to Get Your Dyslexic Child Engaged and Excited About Summer Reading
As a child, I looked forward to the endless days of summer when I could get lost in whatever book I was reading.  We didn’t take fancy and elaborate vacations, so I quenched my wanderlust by jumping into books.
Unfortunately, my dyslexic child does not see reading in the summer the same way. For her, reading is work.  Summer is synonymous with “no work.”  And therein lies the challenge—how do you get your dyslexic child engaged and excited about summer reading.
Pulling from my experience as a language arts teacher and my own love for literature, I have come up with a few key strategies you can use to get your child reading during the summer months.  I even have included some free printables so that you can just “plug and play” these strategies.
We all know how important reading practice is for a dyslexic child.  My daughter gets forty-five minutes of intervention from a trained Dyslexia specialist each school day.  And the one thing her teacher has instilled in her about the summer is to read, read, read.
My daughter, not unlike most people, loves a good story.  She is highly imaginative and creative.  She often times makes up her own dialogue for at home puppet shows. Comedy routines are her (and our) favorites.  She will spend hours setting up her bedroom to look like a classroom and enjoy acting out a day at school with her younger siblings.
With her challenges in reading, just lifting the words up off of the paper and decoding the text is a feat in of itself.  Dyslexia does not allow her the privilege of easily perusing the text allowing her imagination the freedom to run away into the depths of a fantastical world.
No, for her, comprehension is a struggle because—let’s be honest—when it takes you a few minutes to read through a sentence—by the time you have finished decoding the text, you have most likely forgotten the beginning of the sentence.
I know fluency will come with time.   She has made such great progress since she was diagnosed 8 months ago.  I don’t want her to regress or get “rusty” with her reading.  So I have decided to find ways to keep her engaged in reading through the summer months.
Here are some ideas and strategies that you should use to show your child that the pleasure and reward from reading outweighs the effort put in by a landslide.

***The first and most important thing to consider are your child's interests.***

Think about their interests.  What makes your child tick?  What can they talk on and on about without you asking?  Are they technical, mechanical, like to understand how the human body works? Or, are they fascinated with history?  Do they love imaginary play and creating projects?  It is vital to match their interests to their reading material.

Here are suggestions for books in a few different categories of interest. Each category may have a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Some categories overlap.

Book Lists: (Affiliate Links)

Science Fiction
History Non-fiction and Fiction,
Fantasy fiction,
Supernatural Fiction
Realistic Fiction
Science Non-Fiction

Summer Strategies for Getting Kids Engaged and Excited About Reading:

1. Two For One Deal!

For every 10 minutes they read aloud you will read 20 minutes aloud of whatever book they want. A little bit of effort for them, and double the return.  Depending on the reading level of your child, you may read a totally different book to them that they would enjoy but is out of their reach just yet.  You can still get EZ Reader books in all subjects.  It is important for them to read on their level and be read to on a higher level.


2. Audio Books:

Listening to a book while following along in the text gives them a more laid back experience with reading. They will strengthen their reading skills and begin to enjoy reading.  The key point is to have them follow along with the text as it is read aloud. There are several website/services to make this easy for you and your child.


Amazon’s version of an audible Kindle. Get two books for free with your free trial—Otherwise $14.95/month

Learning Ally:

More than 50,000 audio books geared toward blind, dyslexic, and other kinds of users. Membership is $99 for the year.  Fortunately, my child’s school district purchases this membership for all students identified with dyslexia.  Her dyslexia specialist set up her account and gave us the login information.


Similar to Learning Ally, it is free to any student who can provide proof of dyslexia.  I was actually allowed to sign up for a free account for my daughter by giving them our Learning Ally information to verify.

-Your Local Library:

A great free way to get audio versions of books.


3. Have You Seen It?

Find a movie or video series that you know they would love that is based on a book or book series.  Read the book together then let them watch the movie.  Have a discussion with them after she views the movie highlighting the differences and/or similarities between the two. I have created a free printable discussion worksheet for you and your child.

Check it out here! (Book vs. Movie Discussion Questions Activity)

List of books turned into movies:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
Harry Potter
Captain Underpants
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass


4. Remember this?

Create a memory book or scrapbook of the different books they read during the summer.  Allow them to unleash their creativity and make these memory books using any materials they wish.
Traditional Paper scrapbooks or digital scrapbooks like these
If you would like a free printable scrapbook template to get you started, I have created one for you.

CLICK HERE  to Get Your Free Scrapbook Template! (Printable pages to create your own "Summer Reading Memory Book!")

Dyslexic kids are often just exposed to the books that are on their reading level.  And unfortunately, those easy reader level books are often not the most intriguing.  So, if a child believes that this (not so exciting early reader books) is the most interesting books get, then they walk away disenchanted with reading.
As parents of dyslexic children, we always strive to provide our children with the most support possible to encourage a lifetime love of learning.  You know your child best, so take the opportunity to find books your child will fall in love with and they will be well on their way to treasure summer reading.  And for that matter, reading year-round.
Summer reading ideas for children with dyslexia

“The only award I’ll ever get is perfect attendance, and I even messed that up.” Why Recognition Really DOES Matter

Saturday, June 3, 2017

You might have noticed or read a few stories in the news about offensive awards given out to students with learning challenges lately. A trophy was actually handed out in an assembly to a middle schooler with ADHD that was labeled, "Least likely to pay attention." The teachers responsible for curating the so-called "award" were let go from their teaching positions. 

If you are a parent or even a parent of a child with a learning difference or any disability, you know how deeply this hurts. Receiving a trophy that highlights the very thing you struggle with has long-lasting effects. When I saw this article, it made me think of the children I work with during my Orton-Gillingham lessons. 

Recently, one of my students was laughed at by his fellow students when he was asked to read in front of the class by a substitute teacher. Inside, my gut lurched and my heart broke when his mom told me. To be honest, I saw red for a minute, because I know where this child was when I first started working with him and how far he has come.

We simply need to work on kindness, folks. It needs to be taught to our children. It needs to be spread among adults. And listen. I'm not just talking about in person. This goes especially for social media, too. (I'm talking to you, keyboard warriors.) And this is why I have the pleasure of sharing a powerful blog post about spreading kindness with you today. There are so many educators who truly are models of kindness and compassion. Even when the news might try to highlight the things teachers are doing wrong, stories like this one shine through.

A Message of Kindness And Hope

Jules Johnson is the parent of two amazing, talented, kind children who have learning differences. She co-founded Decoding Dyslexia-TN in 2013 and blogs on Diary of a DeelexiaMomJules works tirelessly to help spread dyslexia awareness and to advocate for families. I think you are going to love her post today, It provides a message to hope to families. When it feels like you just don't deserve to receive any kind of recognition, think of this story. We are all worthy of it.

As any parent of a child who struggles will tell you, academic awards day is usually less than fun. In fact, I know of many parents who skip the day entirely. A few weeks ago, my oldest child who is severely dyslexic said:
“Mom, the only award I’ll ever get is perfect attendance. And I even messed that up.”
Talk about a mama heart breaking into one-thousand pieces. By the way, he “messed up” perfect attendance because he had strep throat.
Still, I had hope. This year, for us, is a special year. It’s his last year of elementary school. Maybe they give them all some sort of award?

I didn’t realize until later – but I had internally talked myself into thinking he would get a “surprise” award and it would be this amazing moment.   
The day arrived. As I piled into the gym with the other moms and dads, I made sure to get a good seat “just in case.” There were two awards that I thought he might have a shot at getting – the most improved or the art award.

As both of those awards were called, I held my breath …
And other names were called.
I was crushed. CRUSHED. I couldn’t see his face as his back was to me, but I wondered how he felt. I started to silently cry – tears were rolling down my cheeks as I was quietly sitting there in the hard gym chairs with other parents cheering and clapping all around me.
After the awards, we all head to their classrooms for lunch. Since I knew he’d be crushed, my plan was to check him out and go for ice cream. But as I round the corner, this young man was … smiling.
Not just smiling – BEAMING. What?!?
“Mom! LOOK! Look what Ms Collier did! Last week, she asked us to write words describing one another, and LOOK WHAT SHE DID!”
I picked up this paper he is holding and I saw words written around his name. Artistic, brave, kind

“Did you see this one, Mom? Look! Someone wrote SMART! And it wasn’t a teacher who wrote that either. It was KID! A kid thinks I’m SMART!”
Wow. I don’t even …my words were gone. I hugged him as different kinds of tears formed in my eyes. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. Tears of ….his classmates see who he is too.
Thank you, Ms Collier. Thank you. 

*If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy this one about summer learning!
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