Learning to read can be a daunting task for a child with dyslexia. Dyslexia is a broad term describing difficulties in reading, spelling and writing. A child with dyslexia finds it very hard to interpret symbols and remember which words groups of letters stand for.
Teaching a child with dyslexia to read can be likened to a journey or a walk through the woods. You will make progress, but much of the landscape will seem the same to you. At unexpected moments you will find a bright spot on your path, where things seem clearer and your child’s progress surer.
Recent research has indicated that children with dyslexia often have remarkable skills in other areas such as visual perceptual abilities. Thomas G. West, the author of In the Mind’s Eye, Creative Visual Thinkers, Gifted Dyslexics and the Rise of Visual Technologies (2009) calls dyslexia a gift and provides historical case studies to illustrate the remarkalbe abilities of people with dyslexia.
While parents should do all in their ability to encourage and reinforce the special visual creative abilities of children with dyslexia, care should be taken to familiarize children with dyslexia with written words and language. Frequent read aloud times, specially selected early readers and frequent repetition of both phonic skills as well as sight word vocabulary can benefit children with dyslexia. The important thing is that the child’s ability to visualize and manipulate visual information in his head is harnessed to help him to learn to read even if progress is painfully slow.
When choosing a self-read book for a child with dyslexia, keep the following pointers in mind:
- Choose a book just below his current reading level to start with. It will encourage him on the road to reading if he experiences success early in the journey.
- Try to find series of books with the same general theme. It will help a child with dyslexia if there are familiar words in a new books.
- Many children with dyslexia are imaginative and like creative topics like space, aliens, robots, imaginary worlds or animals and science fiction. Look for easy readers that have appropriate topics and don’t contain pictures or story lines that are aimed at much younger children.
- As many children with dyslexia are visual creative thinkers, look for readers with quality illustrations that contain some humor.
- Make sure the book is not too long (approximately 10-15 pages of text) and that there are only a few words on each page printed in a large, clear font.
- If your child is a very reluctant reader, read the self-read book aloud to him before expecting him to read it aloud to you.
- Allow ample time for him to explore the book and look at the pictures.
Remember that no matter what your child’s reading level is and how much difficulty he experiences in learning to read, he will grow and change and learn. Focus on his strengths, harness his assetts to help him read to the best of his ability and praise him for his efforts.