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Encouraging struggling readers to read

(12 Posts)
LittleSarah Tue 24-Feb-09 12:51:44


I am working on a project for university about how to encourage people who struggle with reading to read.

I was hoping that some people on here may be able to help with ideas for solutions and so on.

Perhaps people who have struggled themself but found something that really helped, or have children who have struggled? Or are teachers and have tips on how to motivate and encourage struggling readers? Perhaps particular books?

I know my own brother, now 19, who is dyslexic, never reads now and still struggles if he has to which I think is a shame.

I would be interested in others who have dyslexia too and how it has affected their reading ability, and how they have improved it or if they have given up and why?

Anyway, anyone who thinks they might be able to help me could reply here or email me at sarahhunterargyle at hotmail dot com.
I will also set it up so you can cat me.

Any help much appreciated.

christywhisty Tue 24-Feb-09 13:12:51

My DH would probably be diagnosed with dyslexia nowadays. He couldn't read until he was 10 and was finally taught phonics, before that they used Look and Say. He still has dyslexic problems ie cannot spell,gets numbers muddles etc. He didn't really start to read novels until he met me and we went on holiday. Then for a few years he would only read on holiday, but now he has a book on the go all the time. He does read a lot of engineering/electronics magazines.

Our DS is also dyslexic but taught synthetic phonics so again can read well, but was a very reluctant reader until this year about a month before his 13th birthday. When I say reluctant reader he wouldn't read novels (except Harry Potter). He did have problems following the words on the page and would use a ruler to keep track of the words.
We used to get a lot of story tapes/cd out of the library. He again has literacy problems and can't spell. His comprehension skills are excellent but his writing is long way behind the rest of his abilities ie (KS2 reading he got a 5b and writing he narrowly scraped a 4c.
I bought him a set of Alex Rider cd's which did not include the latest book. He asked me to get it for him last august and he hasn't stopped reading since
We were discussing this with his english teacher last week and it does help that there are now so many good exciting series for teenage boys to read such as the Robert Muchamore Cherub books.
Before that he would read non fiction such as horrible science magazines and books he could dip into such as the Guiness Book of Records.

sickofsocalledexperts Tue 24-Feb-09 13:35:11

I do not think my son (aged 6) is dyslexic but he is autistic, and until recently non-verbal. People had pretty much given up on the idea of teaching him to read, as he couldn't even talk yet, but I was determined. The thing that worked best for me too was phonics. I bought the jolly phonics DVD, and on the extras is a bit where a nice lady basically enunciates each letter VERY CLEARLY while the letter appears to the left of the screen. Every night, painstakingly, for about 6 months, we would sit and watch that DVD. I would not move on till he had learned each set of 5 letters, and he got a chocolate reward if he said the letter while I put the lady on pause. Once he had all the letters off pat, and I stress it was a long, slow process, I started showing him words like c a t and he started sounding them out as he knew the letter sounds so well. He can now read better than he can talk! However, now that he is trying to read sentences, he seems to see just a jumble of words, so I have cut a rectangle out of a piece of white card, and I use it like a window so that when he is struggling he can see just the single word isolated. I reckon it could be useful to others, though not sure if this seeing a sentence as a jumble of letters means he is also dyslexic. I am so enthusiastic about this way of teaching kids to read, that I wish it could be tried out with other special needs kids - as so often they are written off and expectations of them are far too low. I am now helping my son learn the difference between capital and lower case letters by using a Baby Bumblebee ABC DVD, and also teaching him to type simple words(because a computer keyboard is upper case, yet the letters come out on screen as lower case, it's a useful teaching tool in so many ways.) The other thing I have done is make up my own books, using the key words they are supposed to learn in reception year, but making up a story using Toy Story pictures cut out of another book. He is mad about Toy Story, so that way he is more motivated to try and read than the normal, sometimes rather dull early reading scheme books. I wish Disney would bring out some early readers - they do in the US, but sadly not over here. Hope this helps - probably too much information and not quite relevant, but it is a bit of a passion of mine at the moment!

LittleSarah Tue 24-Feb-09 20:42:03

Thanks guys

sickofsocalledexperts - Wow, you have worked so hard for your son, I think it absolutely amazing! I'd really love to speak you some more about it. If you don't mind perhaps you could send me an email?

christywhisty - Your son sounds a little like my brother, except he has never managed to get past the reluctant stage! If you also wouldn't mind talking in little more detail could you email me too?

roisin Tue 24-Feb-09 21:13:46

I think one great thing is to encourage the reading of any materials. Often 'non-readers' will actually quite enthusiastically read magazines, newspapers and graphic novels.

Similarly many children who are classed as 'reluctant readers' actually just don't enjoy fiction, but are quite happy to read non-fiction books.

I think good role models are crucial. If they live with other people (male and female) who read widely and frequently, then they are more likely to pick up a book themselves.

Time for reading is also crucial. This can be only partially accommodated in school. At home parents can insist that at a certain time 'screens' are all turned off, and there is an option to read (or not read); but not in competition with other more exciting pursuits.

Things that can really inspire reluctant readers are also:
writing to authors (many of whom will reply personally)
choosing their own book at a bookshop or library
being with other people who read and sharing ideas and feelings
being in a setting where reading is viewed as 'cool' not 'nerdy'
meeting authors or watching programmes about them
researching books or authors on the internet

These things are not substitutes for reading - you still have to get down to actually doing the reading - but they can inspire you to read more.

roisin Tue 24-Feb-09 21:16:15

Sorry, I should have also said a bit about myself.

I work in a secondary school running many of the literacy initiatives: World Book Day, Booked Up, Writing Competitions, etc. and generally trying to raise the profile of reading for pleasure in school. I also run two reading clubs.

I have two boys. ds1 is 11 and is an avid reader - he reads a vast quantity and always has done. ds2 is 9 and reads far less. He enjoys non-fiction and has just a handful of fiction authors he enjoys and reads. But he enjoys magazines, newspaper and comics, and we keep trying to encourage him to read more fiction as well.

cat64 Tue 24-Feb-09 21:32:26

Message withdrawn

becaroo Tue 24-Feb-09 21:37:00

I second what has been said about jolly ds1 is 5 and I have just been told he is struggling with reading and writing so I bought the workbooks and dvd from amazon and we are working our way through them - 5 mins every night after tea.

He HATES it though sad He is never still, dislikes having to sit for any length of time and much prefers watching animal/nature programmes on TV (we record them for him) I have bankrupted myself buying books about animlas/dinosaurs/diggers and trucks to no avail....he likes being read to (which we do) but gets very unhappy when I ask him to try.

He is having 10 mins extra help per day at school but they dont really let me know how he is doing.....

This saddens me as reading has been and is such a big part of my life from a very early age.

Noy sure what else I can do to help him.....

Legacy Tue 24-Feb-09 21:51:58

I have two DSs who couldn't be more different w.r.t. reading...

DS1 is a complete bookworm. Was reading at 4 (having been taught phonics at nursery pre-school) and just has a voracious appetite for books. Both DH & I are keen readers and I made sure there were always a lot of books around, visits to libraries, storytime etc.

DS2 has been a very reluctant reader, however he is still only 6.5, so things may change.

He simply didn't seem to 'get' reading at all, and made slow progress despite following a similar educational process as DS1.

We have struggled to get him to read ANYTHING and he always moans about his school reading books.

Things began to change a little last year on holiday when we began him to reward him with stickers for each small book read, and it all added up to some Star Wars lego when he completed the chart. It just sort of kicked things off, and got him into more of a habit. Last summer I also ditched anything remotely schoolbook like and we read lots of comics, star wars books, non-fiction - basically finding things that interested him enough to make him want to read.

He will never be as keen a reader as DS1 I suspect, but I am no longer concerned about him...

junkcollector Wed 25-Feb-09 10:38:43

LittleSarah, sounds interesting. Have you seen the stuff they are doing to encourage boys to read? Not sure if it is entirely relevant and you may have seen it but here is the link to the news report

Good luck.

junkcollector Wed 25-Feb-09 10:41:15

Oh and if you are interested in dyslexia have you seen stuff on Irlen lenses?

LittleSarah Thu 26-Feb-09 16:17:59

Thanks so much everyone!

Thanks for those links junkcollector, both very interesting and relevant.

If any of you would be happy to chat to me about your experience in a bit more detail I'd really like to hear from you.

sarahhunterargyle at hotmail dot com

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