Special Needs Now

5 Ways to Make Reading Fun for Special Needs Kids

Boy reading a book
Unlike chocolate ice cream, iPads, and fire trucks, reading does not top my son's list of good things in life. The skill just doesn't come easily to him. So I've made it my mission to make it as entertaining as possible.

Turns out this is key to nurturing kids who like to read, per the new Kids & Family Reading Report from Scholastic. After surveying 2,558 parents and kids, Scholastic found that there are three powerful factors that predict whether a kid (across ages 6 to 17) will be a frequent reader:

  • A child's level of enjoyment
  • Parents who are frequent readers
  • A child's belief that reading for fun is important

My goal isn't to raise a "frequent" reader but, rather, a passionate one who genuinely likes books. Some new tricks I've been trying:

We book shop in a store.

Every few weeks, Max and I go to our local bookstore and buy a book, rather than him picking one out online (like I typically do with my own books). Browsing gets him more excited about reading them.

We get books related to movies he likes.

Planes Fire & Rescue book, anyone?

We do book plays.

We'll grab a few props related to the theme of a book we're reading, then act it out. This one's pretty easy at our house, since Max is in a firefighter phase (we're at our local fire station every weekend, and the firefighters there even gave him a ride to his birthday party in a truck). Max has got the complete outfit—a firefighter hat, coat, pants, boots, and even a yellow flashlight. When he's in gear, he's more psyched to read. I'd be glad to dress up, too, only he wants to be the only firefighter in the house.

We do weird voices.

When I read books out loud in slow-mo or in a whine, it always makes Max giggle.

We mix up when and where we read.

On weekends, we'll read at the breakfast table. Or we'll hang at the local coffee shop and read there. Also: Bedtime reading doesn't always have to happen in bed! Sometimes, we read together while he's taking a bath. This summer, we read under the stars in our backyard. We're not yet at the point where Max hogs the bathroom because he's sitting in there reading a book, but if that day comes, I'll be seriously psyched.

Ellen Seidman is a mom of two, editor, and professional snacker who blogs daily at Love That Max. You can find her pondering special needs parenthood and other important topics (such as what her next snack will be) on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ even though she still hasn't totally figured out what that is.

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Image of boy reading a book via Shutterstock