Sally Gardner has dyslexia, but that has not stopped her from writing a slew of books, including the award-winning Maggot Moonand I, Coriander. Now in her 60s, the British author has three children aged 31 to 27, all of whom are dyslexic too. She shares her proven tips for coaxing reluctant readers to embrace the world of books.
Make them comfy “For reluctant readers, it’s very good to read to them, in a situation where they’re very comfortable and cosy and warm, or to read at the table, which will enable them to draw while listening to stories.”
Listening is reading, too “Audiobooks are an absolute essential – even if the parent can read the first chapter and let the child listen to the rest. Audible.com has a great range.”
Get your hands dirty “One of the things that I loved doing when I was little was building toy theatres – they helped me think about story and narrative. In London we’ve got Pollocks Theatre shop that sells them but I’m sure you can get them in Singapore, too. Children make their own scenes and characters and so it encourages them to think of their own stories and they can then relate better to books.”
Comics are fantastic “My son learnt to read through Calvin and Hobbes comics. Which I think are a most wonderful way of learning – the ability to understand narrative through illustration is really the beginning of reading, often it’s looked down on, but unless they first have an understanding of story and the joy of story, it’s very difficult to encourage a child to read text.
“It doesn’t really matter which kind of book it is – if your child’s interested in manga comics it’s far better to encourage and expand on that, rather than saying ‘that isn’t proper reading’, see if you can find something similar to what you know they like.”
Follow their interests “I don’t think there’s any one or other book that will get a child to read – the key lies in the child themselves and what ever their interest is – take them to a shop, be patient and let them choose a book for themselves, whatever it might be. If they feel there is no ‘wrong choice’, they will be less reluctant to read.”