August 10, 2023

Read, Grow, Inspire | Reading with children who have special needs

Mark your calendars for Book Week 2023, happening from 19 to 25 August. This year’s theme is ‘Read, Grow, Inspire’. It focuses on how literature fuels children’s creativity and enhances their understanding of the world. Book Week aims to spotlight children’s authors and their pivotal role in nurturing young minds while encouraging healthy reading habits.

Recognising the profound importance of reading to children is imperative. Even if a child faces challenges like limited sight, hearing or comprehension, a little creativity can make reading an enjoyable experience. While they might not grasp everything you read, the shared activity significantly contributes to their cognitive development. Reading aloud acts as a gateway to communication and broader knowledge, introducing concepts such as numbers, letters, shapes, and colours. It simultaneously hones listening, memory, and vocabulary skills.

Here are some effective strategies to facilitate reading with children who have special needs:

1. Choose engaging books

Choose books that captivate children’s interest rather than your preferences. Let them choose their own books, as this empowers them and fosters longer engagement, even if it’s a familiar story.

2. Repeat stories

For children struggling with comprehension, repetition is key. Re-reading the same stories helps them catch missed details and gradually understand the storyline.

3. Gradually extend reading time

Acknowledge that some children, particularly those with special needs, have limited attention spans. Begin with shorter reading sessions to maintain their interest and avoid losing focus. Combined with sensory strategies, this approach enhances their comprehension and engagement.

4. Incorporate sensory props

Utilise sensory props to immerse children in the story and concepts. Tactile objects provide a hands-on comprehension experience, considering different textures like rough, smooth, warm or cold. Auditory, olfactory, visual and tactile prompts can also aid concentration and understanding.

5. Explore local libraries

Discover the offerings of your local library and its website. Many host Story Time, Rhyme Time and free programs during special events like NAIDOC Week and Book Week.