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Tips for reading with children with special needs

April 22, 2018

Even if your child has difficulty seeing, hearing, comprehending, or manipulating books, they can still enjoy them with your help. Reading aloud with children with special needs can be an educational and fun experience for everyone involved. You may find that sharing books together is a great way to bond with your child while helping their development. Sometimes, it’s not the most straightforward task, so here are some tips on how to make reading with children with special needs a breeze.

Choose books that will interest your child


A good starting point is to choose books that you think your child will enjoy and engage with. If your child is interested in the subject and storyline of a book, their imagination will run wild. This will distract them from how difficult they may find reading and instill a love of books in them that may last for a lifetime. An interest in books is a gift that will keep on giving throughout their lives.

Read the same stories multiple times

If your child has difficulty comprehending or taking in information, it is good to read the same stories several times. The repeat readings provide an opportunity for them to catch words and concepts they may have missed the first time. They will then better understand the storyline. This can be fun, like putting the pieces of a puzzle together and having a complete picture at the end. It is a great way to help your child expand their vocabulary.

Build up the time you read

Some children with special needs, particularly young children, can have short attention spans. If you start reading for too long at first, your child may lose interest and seek other activities they see as more stimulating. This is not always because they don’t find reading enjoyable. Too much of something all at once can be off-putting, especially when the task might be difficult for them. To avoid your child turning book sour, start off reading for a few minutes a day. This will help your child stay engaged with the story and get to grips with the plot. It will leave them craving more so that gradually, you can build up the amount of time spent reading with your child each day.

Use props


Using props can help children focus and bring life into the story you are telling. You can give children objects to hold and allow them to act out the story as you are reading. For example, if the story is about a prince, you can give them a toy crown to wear. This keeps their mind on the story. They take in the words you are saying so they can think about their next action or just feel a connection to the story. Held props can also reduce fidgeting and aid concentration.


Reading aloud with children who have special needs can improve their vocabulary and help prepare them for school. For children with special needs this isn’t always simple but giving a child a love for books will allow them to expand their mind and learning capabilities. For more helpful tips, stay up to date with our blog here.

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