As a parent, I always wanted the best for my child. I wanted him to learn to tackle life’s challenges and be the best person he could be. I have a son with special needs. He was born with a mountain of neurological issues, so unearthing additional issues was just a part of the journey to discovering his full potential.
At about seven years old, my son’s school discovered that he wasn’t able to read and was struggling with dyslexia. His inability to read and discover through books was very sad for me. The school my son attended suggested we sit down with him every day and read together to strengthen some reading skills.
Where would I find the time?
Working full time, as most of us do, means those windows for getting extra time are very slim. I was lucky enough to have a job where they let me come in and leave an hour early, so that I could be with my son. Time found! I will be forever grateful for that time they accommodate for us.
Now the real challenge began. How could I make this a fun experience and something my son would look forward to every day? I let him make the choices.
As soon as he got off the school bus, had a snack and got settled in, we started reading together. He chose to read the back of cereal boxes, poems, short stories…it didn’t matter what we read as long as it was a daily ritual. Sometimes we would read every other word together. Other times, only every other paragraph or sentence. We would sound out words together. Word search puzzle books were also a favorite go-to of ours.
Comic books were another source of discovery and fun. Sounding out words became a big part of our reading time. The time spent with each other was not about achieving reading perfection, it was about establishing confidence and joy when reading. And laughing!
Like most children, after the lights had been turned off and the “goodnights” had been spoken, I would hear “I’m thirsty” being shouted from behind his closed bedroom door. But one night, about a year after we started reading together, I didn’t hear the familiar request. Something must be wrong, I thought, so I went to his bedroom. Then I cracked the door open just far enough to see a glow coming from his blanketed bed. Under the blankets, with a flashlight, he was reading on his own!
I never mentioned to him that I saw him reading that night after bedtime. The time we spent reading together everyday after school came to an end. The new world of books sparked his imagination and helped him with social and communications skills. Books expanded his vocabulary. They gave him something to connect with other children about. And most importantly, it gave us time together.
Jeffrey Turner is a writer and illustrator from San Diego, California who has loved coloring outside the lines from the moment he received his first big box of crayons. He’s published many children’s books inspired by his reading journey with his son.
My Touch and My Feelings
Written and illustrated by Jeffrey Turner
Facebook: Think Jeffrey Turner
Download FREE coloring pages from the books for more fun!