Many parents become aware of their child’s dyslexia only when they start school, so we thought we’d offer some ideas to support young readers who are less confident. Learning to read is hard work and can be quite daunting, often also tinged with the fear that once you can read, the bedtime stories will stop. If you’ve a child who is dyslexic or less confident with reading this can make learning to read really traumatic. Here are some simple ways to ensure that reading stays fun and feels achievable. Dyslexia can make it hard for a child to decode simple words, even familiar ones, and can make comprehension hard because they are so busy trying to work out what each word says that they cannot also focus on the meaning. So do ask for support, and look up information on The British Dyslexia Association website. Decoding and comprehension are different things – so don’t feel that you’re stalling learning if you offer them a lot of support and encouragement. We are living in a time when there is plenty support and research which is easily accessible, so do take the time to read about dyslexia and talk to booksellers and librarians too – they will be able to point you in the right direction. Allow your child to choose a book they want to read and let them start reading – genuinely allowing a child to choose (even if it is not what you would have chosen for them) is a significant factor in their investment in learning. Read together, and read at your child’s pace, not your own. Reading together, rather than sitting and ‘hearing’ your child read, is much more enjoyable and encouraging. When they make a mistake give your child time to have another try, but then say the word yourself and allow them to carry on – this keeps the flow going. Try not to use phrases such as ‘no, that’s wrong’, instead use ‘nearly.. have another go’. Encourage your child to explore non-fiction as well as fiction. We find that there is often an over-emphasis on reading fiction in our education system, as if non-fiction is somehow not proper reading. It is, and a lot of children much prefer reading about subjects they are interested in than reading a story. Also explore illustrated books, there are many wonderful graphic novels and highly illustrated books for older readers and adults now. All reading counts. Audio, illustrated and non-fiction is not a ‘lower form’ of reading. Do consider investing in a ‘Reading Pen’, this scans the line and reads each word out loud making the connection for the learner between the written word and how it sounds. This will also help them understand the sentence, and it will help an older child not fall behind because their reading is slower than others in the class. Make use of audio books too; comprehension is vital to enjoyment of reading and learning – so if there is a class book and your child struggles to read it, download the audio version. Audio books are still reading. They will keep up with the class, and knowing the story book will remove the anxiety associated with the challenges of reading. Anxiety is itself a huge barrier; if they are enjoying the story, they are more likely to be inspired in their reading. Allow your child to read aloud, and take time to sit with them and read aloud to them while they can see the text too – often they will be able to follow the reading with you, or parts of it, even when they do not have the confidence to speak the words out loud. Reading to your child, still helps them learn to read and encourage a love of reading. Take breaks and only read in short, achievable blocks. Also take time to look at and discuss the pictures in the book – visual literacy is important too. Remember, learning to read is not a race against other classmates, so ignore the boasting parents in the playground! Try to think of your role at home as to ensure that they keep enjoying books and stories. Look out for Super Readable books, such as those by Barrington Stoke. These are printed a little differently, with good quality paper, proper spacing and paragraph breaks too. And they only work with the very best writers working today, so you will also get a great story. If you are a parent who is less confident at reading, the formatting of Barrington Stoke’s books is also wonderful to help reading out loud. So do seek them out! We have a large selection, for all age ranges, in the bookshop and we will happily show you or take a quick look at some of our favourites … Journey Back to Freedom, Peggy Little-Legs, Seven Ghosts, Suitcase S(Witch), The Curio Collectors.