Choosing the right books to read to your
child is not a simple matter. If you choose the wrong books, your child can
start to think of the reading sessions as a boring activity, but choosing the
right books can help your child love reading and engross them in an activity
that will last the rest of their lives.
Here are some hints that will help you
along the way:
- Because you are reading to your child, it is okay to choose a book with a slightly higher vocabulary than they would choose themselves. This is a great way of introducing new vocabulary to them.
- Choose from your child’s interests. This can be a great place to start and will give you a boost if you are trying to establish a reading routine. As time goes by, though, it is worth introducing some different genres as this will expand vocabulary and allow the exploration of new things.
- Choose something that is exciting very quickly. This is a terrific way to get a child hooked in a book and can be very good for establishing a reading routine.
- If your child has poor concentration levels, it is worth starting with short stories or novels that have a mini adventure in each chapter.
- Explore an author. If your child has already read a book from an author and enjoyed it, introduce another book by the same author. This opens up the chance to compare and contrast the two works.
- Don’t select the book they are using for a reader at school. Reading to your child is a time to enjoy a book together. When you are reading a school reader, you are likely turning it into work.
- Choose high quality literature. There are many books written for children and most of them are of a poor standard. They are based on simple formulas and fail to do any more than relate a simple adventure.
There are many places to see lists of high quality children’s books. Ask at your local library or check https://www.cbca.org.au/short-list-2018 for the short list of top (Australian) books each year.
- If you had favourite books or
authors yourself as a child, use these. There’s a certain magic in sharing your
own childhood with your child. This can also be a good choice if you are
reading to more than one age group together, because it gives you the excuse of
choosing the book.
- Don’t feel guilty if you don’t
want to persist with reading a book you really don’t like. Your enjoyment or
lack of it will come through in your reading aloud.
- Join your local library and
join your child up as well. This can give a wide selection and freedom of
choice without having to worry about cost. It empowers the child in their
choice as well.
- Be adventurous and check out
some poetry for children. Again, start with your local library. There are many
poems suitable for children. They are often short and memorable (good for
reciting) and can introduce humour or feelings in a way that children can
understand, especially if you tease it out a bit with questions. Reading poetry
aloud has a different pattern from reading stories aloud, so it gives children
a bit of variety in the material choice. If your time for reading aloud is
restricted, choosing a poem or two makes a complete activity in a short time.
I have had a couple of conversations this week with parents
seeking help with learning for a child with autism, so I thought it would be
worth exploring it a little more.
Autism is a condition where the individual has some combination
of difficulty with social interactions, has some degree of obsessive interest
and behaviours, and sensory sensitivities. People diagnosed with autism sit
somewhere on a spectrum according to the level of difficulty experienced.
Most often schools are a really difficult place for children
with autism. In school a child is pushed by the system to be compliant with
group structures and rules and this often runs counter to the drives and
sensitivities of the child. Other children can find it difficult to be sensitive
towards a child with autism and so the child can end up being ignored or
While some schools have a deep understanding and sensitivity
of the needs of an autistic child and actively run programs across the school
to support them, most schools merely try to cope. This makes sending an
autistic child to school heartbreaking for the parents and stressful for the
If you have a school child who has been diagnosed with autism,
the good news is they can learn and they can integrate with other children. Like
any learning difference, it can be a barrier to some learning, but you can help
your child develop techniques to overcome barriers. It requires extra work and
patience by you and by the school but it can be done.
- Start by visiting https://www.autismspectrum.org.au/content/schools. They can provide help for you and the school.
- Have regular school meetings. Make a list of items
ahead of the meetings and make sure the school knows your list before the
meeting starts (that will give them time to prepare with ideas and solutions).
- There are Facebook groups for parents who have
autistic children. Join them and share ideas.
- What you do at home is super important for
helping your child. They will need extra help and coaching in coping and the
one on one time you give them at home will be invaluable. (see an example here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEEBcaplgNo).
If your child goes to school with a child who has autism,
take the time to talk to your child about it. It is important to help your
child to understand that the child with autism might just have some difficulty
with socialisation and needs the patience and support of your child. I remember
talking to a tearful mother some years ago whose child had autism. She had
tears of joy because her socially awkward child had been invited to a birthday
party. The invitation meant an awful lot to the child as it was the first one.
Her child was thirteen years old.