Reading to my son: 5 ways I get ready as a dyslexic dad

At one point in my life, I didn’t want to have children because of my dyslexia. I didn’t want to have to read to my child. It was my insecurity I was dealing with.

Years later, I remember one time I was reading to my son and stumbling over words. I was so uncomfortable that I started making up words. I would throw in what made sense based on the context clues because it wasn’t clear to me what the word was. I felt a little foolish doing that. 

So that’s when I developed a system to make sure I’m not stumbling and bumbling over words. Being a parent is a selfless act. It’s bigger than my insecurities. It’s about wanting to read with my son to create memories and connection.

Here are five ways I get ready to read as a dyslexic dad.

1. Have my son choose a book the night before.

Each night when we finish reading, I ask my son, “What book do you want to read tomorrow night?” For a while, it was superheroes — Spider-Man, Black Panther, the Avengers. When my son was in that mode, that’s what we were reading. 

Sometimes I want to introduce my son to books with black characters or authors. I’ll ask, “Which of these do you want to read tomorrow?” But I always ask the night before because I need time to prepare. 

2. Read in advance.

I want to make sure I’m comfortable with the book. This helps me bring it to life. Reading the book in advance helps me be more animated with it and change my voice in certain places. 

This tip is for non-dyslexic parents as well. The more interactive and entertaining you are, the more your child will engage with the book.

3. Decode with my phone.

If there’s a word I’m having trouble decoding, I go to my phone and type it in. Then I highlight it and press “speak” to hear how my phone says it. 

When I got my first phone with text-to-speech, it was life-saving. I’ve been using that feature ever since. 

4. Get into the right mental space. 

Each night before we start reading, I think about how grateful I am to have this time with my son because I didn’t have this time with my father. 

I also forgive myself right at the outset. I say to myself, It’s OK to make a mistake. You’ll be all right. Your son is not going to think less of you. Don’t think less of yourself. 

5. Have fun.

The more I’m having fun, the more my child is having fun. It’s not about the book at that moment. It’s more about the time we’re spending and the relationship I’m creating with my son. 

For parents, reading together may be a moment. For kids, it may become a memory. It’s a moment of connection.

This article was scribed by Julie Rawe.

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