When Reading is Hard
Guest post by Tonya Spitler
When Reading is Hard
I learned to read at a very early age. Reading was always my hobby, my favorite pastime, and my escape. So, when I had children, I envisioned bonding over the shared joy of opening a book and diving in.
I did all of the things. I read to them frequently, took them to story time at the local library, and had bookshelves full of options for them to look at. We had family read aloud time, listened to audiobooks in the car, and genuinely enjoyed spending time reading together. As a homeschooling family, we spent hours reading together.
All of the experts said children are made readers on the laps of their parents. I took that advice very seriously.
Learning To Read
Learning to read didn’t seem to come as easily for them as it had for me. They struggled to sound out words. Words they recognized one day, were completely foreign to them the next. I was frustrated, they were frustrated, and it seemed we were getting nowhere.
It wasn’t until my oldest was finishing first grade when I finally stumbled across a blog that talked about dyslexia and a light bulb clicked. We began working intensively with phonics programs geared toward children with learning difficulties. We tried all the tricks: colored reading strips, index cards with a whole big enough for one word at a time, glasses, brain training… you name it, we tried it.
Over the years, I attended workshop after workshop learning all I could about dyslexia and tips and tricks to help my children not only learn to read, but to fall in love with reading the way I had.
It was during one of those workshops that I heard something that would change the course of our reading adventure.
Some people read better with their ears. - Andrew Pudewa
This simple statement allowed me to step back and realize that reading, while vital, can look like a lot of things.
I started focusing on finding books that my children could listen to as they read along with a physical copy. We still worked diligently to learn to read fluently, and made huge strides, but falling in love with reading had to be separated from the process of learning to read.
Adding audio books and continuing family read aloud time allowed for my children to continue to fall in love with exploring new people, places, and ideas through the written word. They came to look forward to reading time, and that made my bookish heart swell.
What about "grade level?"
After seeking professional diagnosis, we discussed at length what it means to be on grade level and what would happen if they were never able to get there. My greatest fear was they would be held back from achieving their dreams if they couldn’t read at a college level.
This is when we discovered the accommodations offered to people with reading difficulties. Colleges often offer several options to help students be successful. Most college textbooks can be found on audio now, and professors will often share their slides if asked.
Encouragement for the New Year
As a new school year begins, I encourage you to consider separating the love of reading from the act of reading from a page. If your children dislike reading, find audiobook options they may enjoy. Make it a family affair. Encourage them to continue to grow their reading muscles but take care to never make them feel like they aren’t trying hard enough. Perhaps institute a family reading time.
Even if your children love to read, there is value in family reading and in offering multiple ways to “read.” Encourage your children to find the types of books that keep them flipping the page.
Whether they read with their eyes, or their ears, I hope this year, your children fall in love with books.
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Arielle Haughee is the owner and founder of Orange Blossom Publishing.