Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fun with Reading

Recently I was asked about resources to help a bright girl who has shown no interest in wanting to read. Her school thinks she’s learning disabled but those of us who know her better think it’s more of a combination of character traits. She’s extremely energetic and physical and doesn’t like to sit still to read when she could be building something or making something or moving. She adores being read to and seems to crave the physical contact being read to implies. We think she might be afraid that if she learns to read that she’ll lose her lap time. And then there’s her older sister who is “The Reader.” She read early and reads often. If the reluctant reader sees a picture of anyone reading, she always says it looks just like her sister. We think she may not want to compete on her older sister’s turf.

And so I’ve been thinking about things that made reading fun for AJ when he was starting out. I came up with a few resources, but mostly what we had fun with was making up games to play with words. As AJ’s reading has advanced, he still likes to play games with words. He loves to do Mad-Libs. He loves jokes and wordplay. And I love that he’s learned to enjoy language as much as I do.


• Scholastic DVDs with accompanying books. These videos are fantastically done and they are very faithful to the books and their artwork. Most if not all of them have a “Read Along” feature that allows you to put closed captions on so you can read as you listen. We own about 10 or 12 of them and have had many more out of the library. We love them all.

• Videos of Between the Lions

• Sesame Street videos

• Electric Company videos


We haven’t found too many computer games that are terribly good at inspiring new readers.

• Reader Rabbit is often recommended but we found it kind of lackluster. It’s too teachy and not fun enough.

• The Dr. Seuss computer games (there are several, all good)

• Arthur computer games. AJ liked the way you could click on things and surprising things could happen. There are read to me and read it myself modes.


Read aloud a familiar book while changing some of the words and see if she can catch you. It works best if you change the word to something really silly. We started off with changing rhyming words to something that didn't rhyme, so it was fairly obvious, but then we'd substitute other rhyming words.

Read aloud together and alternate words or lines. You can do this with any book, but try You Read to Me and I'll Read to You (there are also one or two sequels). It has stories that are written out for two people alternating with cute pictures. Andy really liked them. And they're designed for early readers.

Have her tell stories and write them down and read them back to her.

Have her write the grocery list and/or give her the grocery list and have her find things at the store.

Make an Alphabet Tree based on Leo Lionni's book of the same name. Make a paper tree and cut out one leaf for each letter of the alphabet and write the letters on them. You could also do a few extras of common letters. Hang it where it is easily reached and put blue poster putty on the back of the leaves so they can be easily moved around. Have her put them together and try to pronounce it -- it doesn't matter if it's a real word. Sometimes sillier is better. Or have her make crazy letter formations and you try to pronounce it. This same game would work with those foam letters that stick to the walls of the bathtub.

Using giant floor mat ABCs or large letters written on paper on the floor or on driveway in sidewalk chalk, shout out words and have her run and jump on the first/last letter of the word (whatever you ask for).

That’s our list. How about you? Do you have any ideas for things that make reading fun?


lemming said...

Reading Rainbow, Reading Rainbow, Reading Rainbow - but watched WITH the child, with plenty of snuggling on the side.

Remember to make Levar's changing hairstyles and sweaters into a history lesson!

readersguide said...

You know, it really could be that she has some kind of learning disability, because this whole thing sounds an awful lot like M. What we did with M was a lot lot lot of reading -- Little Bear, Fluffy the Hamster, the Bob books are good for early early readers. But I'd really recomment getting her assessed. What you'll end up doing if she's got a disability is the same anyway -- lots and lots and lots of reading practice -- but she'll probably feel a whole lot better knowing that there's a reason that reading is hard for her, and that reason is not that she's the stupidest person on the planet. (Plus, the assessment is actually fascinating. Get it done by someone good, though, even if it means paying for it. And it's not cheap.)

Anonymous said...

Have you tried any of the "Living Books" for the computer yet?

Harriet said...

Lemming, AJ's never taken to Reading Rainbow, although I always liked it. And I love the idea of Levar as a history lesson. Readersguide, thanks so much for your input. I didn't mean to imply they weren't going to test her, only that some of us who know her aren't sure that the label makes sense. They will go ahead with the testing. In the meantime, we're trying to think of things to help her. And anonymous, yes, we have and they are among the best computer programs we've tried. Both the Dr. Seuss and Arthur games I mentioned are Living Books.