Talking to peers is extremely important. Especially at a young age when children still have to learn the emotional and social skills like empathy, cooperation, and problem-solving.
Generally, children talk. A lot. They constantly have something to ask, something to note, something to say. Which is good, as it develops their social habits and often unleashes their creativity.
So what happens when a child cannot be a part of this discussion?
Everybody Loves Harry Potter
A while ago, before all this pandemic started, I was part of a programme, teaching kids about entrepreneurship. The programme was set to encourage 7th and 8th grade pupils to find a project and turn it into a business idea. And after the initial shyness wore off, children were finding incredible ideas, building incredible projects. We developed ideas from start to end, coming across obstacles, finding solutions for those obstacles, unleashing children’s creativity and teaching them the importance of personal finance along the way.
Inevitably, from time to time, we would take a break and fall into generic chit-chat. And what I found was: Man, children really LOVE Harry Potter. It was all they could talk about. Who is their favorite character, which passage is the best, and how they would totally rewrite the part about Sirius Black dying.
In the class, we had two children. And while other pupils were bombarding me with questions about my thoughts on Hermione, they sat in the corner of the room, quietly talking between themselves, looking towards us in the process. I invited them to join, but they told me they haven’t read Harry Potter, because it is stupid. It was clearly a defense mechanism. This got me thinking.
What happens, when kids can’t be a part of the lively discussion going on in the class? What happens when they are left out because they don’t like reading or struggle with reading issues? What happens to their social and emotional skills? And how does that affect their further development?
Research shows, learning social and emotional skills is vital at a young age. It teaches kids about empathy, cooperation and differences, and it boosts their creativity. This is why we want to encourage ALL kids to be included in the discussions.
So here are five ways for your kid to read Harry Potter and become a part of the discussion, happening in the class and during school breaks.
Five Ways for a Struggling Reading to Read Harry Potter
A very simple solution is to help your kid by turning the book into a color-coded book. You can do that by coloring specific letters or letter combinations for your kid.
When your kid has difficulties reversing letters, you can simply color different letters into different colors. The most common letters that get reversed are b, d, p and q since they all look the same. So you color all p’s in the book into blue, b’s in red, d’s in green and q’s in yellow. The color will help distinguish between letters, leading to faster reading and in time, to orthographics mapping, required for a kid to distinguish between letters based on shape (color will not be needed anymore).
To speed up reading, leading to better comprehension, you can turn a book into a phonics book. This means breaking down words into syllables with the help of color. Get a pen and draw a line between each syllable in a word or use colored pens and color the first syllable red, the second one green, and so on.
There is significant research showing improvement in a child’s reading speed and reading accuracy when breaking down words with color, so the technique is worth a try.
Learn More About the Phonics-based Approach to Reading
Another way to transforma a book into a phonics book is to color every vowel in the text (‘a’ in red, ‘e’ in blue,…), which leads to the same results as breaking down words into syllables.
Suffixes And Double Letters
Word endings and double letters can often be problematic as well. Double letters, such as ‘ee’, ‘oo’ can quickly be colored into your kid’s favorite color. Word endings, such as ‘ing’, and ‘ed’, require a bit more time though, as ‘ed’ is an irregular ending and you need to think about whether the final ‘d’ in a word is suffix or a part of the word.
To find a complete list of suffixes in English language, follow this link.
Color-coding works really well on short stories and texts. However, color-coding a whole book can be a painstakingly long process. Good news! You can color-code entire books in a matter of seconds, using the Kobi app.
Kobi is a mobile app for iOS and Android. It is designed for all kids who are learning to read, including the ones who are suffering from reading difficulties.
The app allows you to import any digital or scan any physical book, adjust the text according to the kid’s needs and follow their reading development.
Try Automated Color-Coding With Kobi
Another technique that helps instantly is finger reading. Tracking text with a finger is a natural process done by children. The process is often discouraged by teachers in order to encourage focus without using the finger. However, the index finger can be your kid’s best friend when it comes to having to focus on the text in front of them.
For more details and the reason why this works, please read our article: “Instantly Improve Reading Speed With Finger Reading!”
Finger Reading is very simple. Encourage your kid to put their index finger under the first word in the text and start reading while following the text with their finger. This keeps children focused on the text at hand and improves their reading speed, resulting in greater comprehension.
Another great way of encouraging your kid to read is to read together with them. You can start by reading to them and, after a few pages, have them read a paragraph or two. Then take over again. That way you can both enjoy the experience of reading. Try to progressively leave more and more paragraphs to your kid. Usually when the story gets interesting they will be more reluctant to leave the book unfinished, which will motivate them to read more.
Listening to the Audiobook
We listed Audiobooks in the last place because audiobooks avoid the problem of a child not reading instead of tackling it. Think of it like giving your kid a wheelchair when they need crutches. Sure, it helps, but the wheelchair will not train leg’s muscles. The same goes with reading. Your kid will only learn to read by practicing reading. So we encourage you to give it a try and have your kid fall in love with reading instead of providing accessibility tools that will avoid the issue.
Audiobooks can still be a good way to catch up on longer books or stories using complicated language. So if you see you can’t convince your kid to read Harry Potter, it’s a better than nothing solution.
Try experimenting with the techniques mentioned above. Every kid is different and prefers different approaches, so what worked for us, might not work for you and vice versa. The important thing to keep in mind is that at the end of the day, all your kid needs is a supporting environment that will let them reach their full potential.