He was dyslexic. I'm not sure if there is such a thing is “very” dyslexic. If there was, he was.
I had a trick that worked with my older children. But would it work for him?
The “trick” was simple. On a long trip, I would start reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I would put as much excitement and energy my reading as I could. Usually, I would read for thirty minutes to an hour each day on the book.
I would wait until the kids were fascinated by the book. I could tell. For example, when we would stop for gas, the moment we were back in the car, they'd beg for me to read again. It was almost cruel to stop reading right there. But that is what I did.
I would yawn, stretch my arms, and say,
“You know what? I'm really tired.”
I would hear howls from the backseat.
They wanted to know what happened next.
So, I would turn around and say,
“Read it for yourself. I won't stop you.”
(My older two kids never asked why I happened to have two copies of the book with me on the trip!)
And with that, there was no stopping them. My kids read. And read. And read. Within weeks, they would be finished with the whole series. That summer, each of them read thousands of pages of books.
I can't take credit for this idea. My fifth-grade teacher Ginger Collins used it on me.
Mrs. Collins was very pregnant. Huge. Miserable. On those hot South Georgia days, she would sit in her rocking chair. She read A Wrinkle in Time to us. Sometimes we got a chapter; sometimes we got a little less.
But I remember getting frustrated when the book got great. I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! So I went to library got the book and finished it. It was such a good book that even though she read it after I finished it, I still enjoyed it the second time.
That was the beginning my journey. There was no stopping me. The summer after fifth grade, I read everything. From Homer to James Michener, I inhaled books.
So, would this work with a child who struggled with dyslexia?
I only needed one copy of Narnia, but that summer changed everything. There was no stopping my youngest child. He became an amazing reader. He still is.
To be fair, I have to note, this event was the turning point. But this was not the FIRST time I read to the kids.
To put it simply, I read with all of my children until they were motivated to read for themselves. But it took a challenging book a bit past their reading level and several hours in the car.
Taking time to read shows kids that it's important. We read to them just about from the moment they were born. Books represented warm, snuggly time with parents who loved them. But in that plot twist moment in the car, books became riveting.
So, on your next trip — put up those movies! Put up those games! Read! It might just be the most worthwhile trip you'll ever take. You may just start your child on a journey that lasts a lifetime.
[callout]This post is part of the Global Search for Education series with Cathy Rubin of CM Rubin World. Be sure to find out all the answers on her blog. [/callout]
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