As a special education teacher and the mother of a learning disabled child, I understand the difficulties and frustrations of teaching these children to read. However, reading is a necessity for learning as children who can’t read will have even more difficulty learning other basic skills and many jobs in this technological age will be forbidden to them. For these children reading becomes a hated chore. As they become older, they have even less interest in reading and schoolwork and it becomes even harder to hold their attention. The trick is to find something they will enjoy enough to stick with it.
Books based on movies and television shows they like or books about cars or about any other subject that interests them can make it less of a chore and increase the likelihood they will begin to read at home. Short stories are usually a better place to start since they require less effort. For teens there are books known as high interest low vocabulary; these are geared toward the interests of teens but have a limited vocabulary. Each book builds on the vocabulary of the last one. These help to foster an interest in reading . Always help them with the meaning and pronunciation of new words when they ask; do not make them feel dumb for asking, be matter of fact. Watch your facial expressions and tone of voice.; the idea is to encourage not discourage.
My son was still reading on a first grade level in seventh grade and nothing I tried could interest him in reading. He just hated it . He preferred television and movies and video games. He wanted me to read articles about them to him, but he refused to even look at the printed page. I was out of ideas when DC comics decided to kill off Superman. That sparked his interest; he wanted to know all about it and wanted to collect the books. Then he wanted to read them for himself. This was the beginning of a new era. He wanted more background on the character and began to collect comics. He even branched out into other characters. The comics sparked questions . How accurate were the depictions? Was Batman really a detective? Could Mars support life (the Martian Manhunter)? All these questions sparked his interest in other subjects . Now he reads nonfiction for pleasure. He especially enjoys National Geographic, newspapers, astronomy, and business news.
If he wants to build a model car or a bird feeder, etc., purchase a kit for him. Help him to read and understand the directions by demonstrating each step as you read it (be sure to point at each word as you read it, this will
help with word recognition and comprehension.). Patience is the key. Remember there are no dumb questions only things he doesn’t know yet. If you make him feel stupid, he may never be willing to try again.
What I’m trying to say is that it really doesn’t matter what type of reading catches a child’s attention because what is needed is a starting point to build from. No matter how strange, esoteric or childish you think his interest is, it is a beginning. Encourage and support never belittle.