-by guest blogger Mary Ventura
Mary is a Special Ed teacher and parent of a child with Special Ed needs. She has learned a few ways to get kids who don’t have a natural affinity for reading to love books, and we’ve asked her to share them with us. Her advice: get them to visualize the story, with a little help (from a movie pairing, as described below, or with graphic novels).
When I work with parents who are struggling to get their kids to LIKE reading I always mention movies. In fact, in my classroom, I never stuff things like Shakespeare into student hands without letting them know that Shakespeare didn’t write plays to be read, he wrote them to be acted– to be seen and heard by audiences. Students, especially young kids, who struggle with wanting to read often do so for a couple of reasons: 1) they haven’t found the right book (easy enough to read and plot that is interesting to him or her) and/or 2) they aren’t seeing the story play out in their minds- a pretty important part of making meaning out of what one is reading. And so I suggest seeing the movie before reading the book. Of course this limits the library of choice, but it can be done. Holes by Louis Sachar has been a popular hit with this exercise because it’s a great book and the movie was done well, but it also left out some details that make reading it after seeing the movie a special treat.
However, kids who are struggling with learning disabilities or who are just not learning how to read as quickly as it seems their peers are learning are a totally different story. It’s not just about seeing a movie before reading a novel; it’s about endurance! Reading is a physical task. We can easily forget that when we tuck ourselves away in our favorite chair with a blanket and a warm drink on a blustery Winter’s day. For someone who’s just learning how to read it takes eye muscles, it takes throat muscles and shoulder muscles. It can really wipe a kid out!
Movie and book pairings to the rescue. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Holes by Louis Sachar
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot