It a natural thing that when you find it difficult to read, or in some cases impossible you make up all sorts of reasons why it doesn’t matter, to avoid feeling stupid. You convince yourself that there is no value in books; they are on topics that don’t interest you. Personally I could read, but I couldn’t remember anything a read. This makes you feel that the whole idea of reading is pointless. I hated reading aloud and when in school we took turns around the classroom; I just wanted to die and disappear under the floor my terror was so bad – who knows the negative effect this has on your health!
I remember when I passed my Latin O level many years ago I read over and over again the English translation until I could recall my own voice reading it. I was also helped by the passages being about roman fortifications that are so gruesome, they stick in your head as graphic images. I read my first books for pleasure when I was pregnant in order to get to sleep and this strategy worked well; but I never finished the book.
Then the world changed when my son was born. I suddenly had a passion for reading to him stories of #Winnie The Poo. So there I was at the age of 39, stumbling around missing out words and punctuation. But my son was only a few weeks old so he just enjoyed the cuddle and of course didn’t complain. Then a strange thing happened, with no fear of criticism, I started to read more fluently. I remembered to breathe at the punctuation and everything started to make more sense. I relaxed, enjoyed the story and without any prompting started making up pictures of the story and I could remember the content. Why hadn’t someone told me that is the skill you need to remember what you read!
From this point on I have read hundreds of books for enjoyment, mainly personal stories from people who learn differently and are described as having learning difficulties. People’s real stories fascinate me rather than other people’s interpretation of what is happening. I have found my motivation.
The problem is those who are good at reading do it naturally and can’t understand why others can’t do what they do. Wouldn’t it be a good idea if those who can remember what they read explained how they do it to those who can’t.
At Empowering Learning we have modelled all the skills we teach on success. Find out how people are successful, and teach it to others. First you help people understand their own experience, then teach them any missing skill and finally stand back and see what they can do with their new knowledge.
A client today who had first come along with his daughter, had then realised this was an opportunity for him to change a lifetime of not being able to read and spell. As he learned how to spell with mental images – the skill all good spellers have, and release all those years of stress, his reading magically improved and his whole life became calmer. “But the question was what do I read, I thought books didn’t interest me”. To read you need motivation, you need to slowly work your way up from more space between the text, but above all an engaging story for you. My own son didn’t like all those children’s books and went straight for the back page of the #Guardian at the age of 6, just because it was the sports page and his Dad modelled perfect concentration on this page.