Adoption = Reading

This is a reply I posted to an adoptive parent on Reddit whose child is having reading struggles. I realized it might be helpful to some of my WP readers. I apologize…I didn’t make it pretty (spare time is all going to NaNoWriMo this month). 

Our guy was reading at a pre-k level going into 2nd and at a K level at end of 2nd. Our girl was reading around 1st grade level in 2nd.

Here’s the nutshell of what worked for us: Everyone says to let your kids see you read, but I just don’t have time to sit down. Instead, I talk all the time about reading. “Books are awesome; you can find anything you want to know…” “Do you know what I read the other day?” They don’t see me reading, generally, but they know I do it. They also know that when I have my earbuds in, I’m listening to ‘one of Mama’s stories.'” Sometimes I download books (Bunnicula is a favorite, even for the adults) and we listen in the car.

Over the summer, we checked out books at the library. I let them pick whatever they wanted, five books each per week. She mostly got pink story books; he chose information (SHARKS!) books. They read out loud to me in the car anytime we went anywhere, at least one book per day–in the case of the info books, he had to read for 15 minutes, since some of those are loooooooong. They didn’t like it at first and said they were carsick, etc. (to which I said, “prove it and barf” and they said never mind…thank goodness…). After a while, they got used to it.

Our rules: When they come to a word they don’t know, they need to try it first, then they can spell it to me (since I’m driving). I then help them break up the word by 2-3-or 4-letter chunks. They still have to figure it out, but I help with weird words (“that ‘c’ says ‘ess'” or “that ‘K’ is silent”).

They gave me a LOT of pushback, crying, complaining, etc. for the first month. Finally it subsided, and now they (mostly) just do it. It took 8 months, I won’t lie…it’s not a quick process.

I was concerned that he would have trouble with the info books because the words were bigger (true) but because he picked topics HE cared about, there was motivation.

Getting them to read is all about letting them read what interests them, and reading out loud (in my opinion) is key. Otherwise, you don’t really know that a) they’re actually reading and b) they’re reading correctly. Captain Underpants is not my idea of a great role model, but our guy loves the books, so I allow them. (Of course, there’s a common sense piece, here…I probably should not have been allowed to read Flowers in the Attic when I was ten, but no one really regulated my reading.)

Consider getting audiobooks (along with the written books) and having him listen/read. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t perk up at hearing, “let me tell you a story. Long ago and far away…” Read to the whole family at dinner. I understand that mine are younger, but they still rolled their eyes when I pulled out my ancient copy of Little House on the Prairie. Three months in (I read maybe three pages on sporadic days), they say, “can you read tonight?”

After much struggle and continued practice, our guy returned to school this fall reading AT THIRD GRADE LEVEL. I have never been prouder, truly. (I’m not sure about our girl’s level because they didn’t give her the same test, but she definitely improved also).

I hope some of this works for you. I imagine it’s even harder when they’re older. I can tell you though, the “find their interest” thing works. Good luck!!!

About Casey

Adoption = my life. I'm determined to give my kids the chance they deserve. Adoption isn't always easy. I promise, you're not alone in this. Join me at - we're in this together.

Posted on November 22, 2014, in Adoption, Education, parenting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. What a wonderful way to get children interested in reading and in improving their reading! Smart moma!


  2. 🙂 Here’s what I say: “Your kids are EXTREMELY blessed to have you as a mom!”

    Your advice is excellent. It is a long, slow process. No shortcuts. But you can have (some) fun along the way.

    It doesn’t matter how old they are. We read aloud together as a family at bedtime. We started when they were tiny and continued right through high school. Seriously — high school. 🙂 (We don’t have a television.)

    Thanks for posting here! (I’m having caseyalexander withdrawals!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this is good and helpful! I can attest to the finding a book that they are really interested in! My daughter in 2nd grade was in the lowest reading group. She really struggled and she felt so badly about it. I had her tested for dyslexia, etc.and she passed. The test definitely showed a struggle in the area but it wasn’t due to that. The reccomendation was to try to get books above her reading level for her. She tested above average in comprehension, which was no surprise to us. Her school was having her read Dick and Jane type books,she would try to read it out loud and get frustrated and give up easily, so I really didn’t know how a book above her reading level would go. Boy was I surprised! It was music in my ears to hear her in her bedroom reading aloud, sounding out the words she had trouble with and keeping on going! Within a year she was soaring! I had tears in my eyes as I heard her reading to herself and had a thankful heart for the advice we had been given. She is in 7th grade now and continues to excel in reading! Reads 600 page books no problem. So thanks for lending that advice to others, you got the key. Don’t hold back thinking the book will be too hard for them…if they are interested in it they will push themselves to do it!


  1. Pingback: Adoption = Irony | Adoption =

Add your opinion here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: