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Reading Tips for Your Child with Learning or Attention Difficulties

Children who struggle with reading or language skills may find it hard to enjoy reading. And, children with other learning and attention issues can be reluctant readers, too. Based on research from the All Our Babies study, daily reading is a way to support children as they develop self-regulation - the ability to monitor and manage emotions, attention, and interactions with others and the environment.

As you take time for daily reading together, here are ways you can encourage and help your child:

Read it again and take turns. Re-reading books your child is familiar with helps build confidence. Plus, re-reading books at home with a loved one helps your child experience success in a friendly and low-risk environment. Take turns reading to each other, too; it’s a way to hold your child’s interest and demonstrate your love of reading.

Make reading creative. Your child may have issues with reading, but may excel in other areas. Change up reading activities to incorporate strengths. If your child likes to draw and create things, fold and staple paper together to assemble a book. Help your child write sentences, illustrate, and read aloud the book.

Make books special. If your child struggles, they may avoid reading as it makes them feel anxious and frustrated. Create positive experiences around reading by making it a treat. Visit the library so they can get their own library card; read with them and give books as gifts.

Make reading real. Connect what your child reads with you to their real life. Whether the book is about a character swimming or flying a kite, decide together on follow-up activities that can make stories come to life.

Be patient, and praise. Let your child take time to sound out an unfamiliar word. Praise their efforts. If, for example, your child misreads ‘listen’ as ‘list,’ re-read the sentence together and ask which word makes more sense. Your patience and gentle correction will help them see mistakes as learning experiences, not reasons to give up.

Teach your child mind tricks. Practice together how to summarize a story and predict what happens next. Demonstrate how to tell what a character is feeling based on their actions. These strategies help your child build comprehension skills and actively engage in reading.

Source: adapted from

Keep Reading Aloud to Your Older Child Who Struggles With Reading

These books may capture your child’s imagination and help build their vocabulary:

  • The BFG by Roald Dahl
  • Curse of the Boggin - The Library Book 1 by D.J. MacHale
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Audio books for children can help build their vocabulary and an interest in stories. Download from or

More ideas and resources:

Calgary Reads innovates and inspires the reading revival, because we all have a role to play in creating a thriving community where children can read with confidence and joy! For videos, resources, and games to help build the joy of reading, visit




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