Monday, February 02, 2009
Would You Survive...Reading?
When my son Josh was learning to read, it was an arduous process. He made steady progress, but had to work hard to remember the sounds represented by print and the various ways they blended into words. At the time I was teaching Josh to read, my next door neighbor had a daughter 11 months older than Josh. This little girl took books to bed with her at night, and basically taught herself to read as her mother read to her. Before long, and without any curriculum or structured lessons, this girl was reading independently. In the meantime, I struggled to stay awake after lunch when we did the reading lesson for the day. Sometimes it took Josh so long to decode a word that I'd start to nod off and Josh would ask if I was still awake. It didn't help that Josh was also hyperactive, and it was not unusual for his head to be on the floor and his rear end up near the book. I decided instead of the "phonetic approach" I was teaching the "bun-etic approach" but it didn't work very well as a way to teach reading! This was Josh and Beths' kindergarten year, and besides the actual reading instruction I was reading over 100 books to them each month. We were regulars at the library, and if merely exposing them to reading and books could have taught them to read it sure should have happened. They enjoyed the books, but they in no way taught themselves to read. It took work. The books that motivated Josh to read on his own were from a series with titles that started with "Would You Survive..." as a squirrel, deer, fox. etc. These books featured various animals in their habitats, and at various points choices had to be made. For example, when faced with a predator, the reader gets to choose if the animal runs up a tree or hides in a hole in the ground. Based on the choice, the reader is instructed to go to a specific page to continue the story. In addition to teaching about the animals, the stories would have different outcomes depending on the choices the reader made. Josh, like most children with AD/HD, loved the versatility of a story that could be different each time he read it. These books really ignited Josh's love of reading, and soon after he discovered the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series which also gave the reader options that influenced the outcome of the story. Finding books that connect with your child's interest and imagination can make a huge difference in the attitude toward reading. The "Would You Survive" series helped Josh see that reading was not just another required task he had to perform for school, but was actually something that he could enjoy.