Friday, September 18, 2015

Multi-sensorial reading for the reluctant reader

Before the biological clock kicked in making me want kids, on one of those occasions when a hapless elder asked why I wasn't having kids yet, I flippantly retorted " not until someone can guarantee they won't hate books". I don't think the hapless elder understood that there was some genuine fear in that statement. She probably thought I was just being rude. I really wasn't. Not entirely anyway.

I spend a lot of time and money ordering books for JED. People tell me to go to the library but they like re-reading their books so much that we end up always borrowing the same books and they are reluctant to grow their repertoire at all. We discovered last year that audio books were a great way to introduce new books to them. And we haven't looked back since especially now that we've discovered this brilliant app called Overdrive that allows you to borrow electronic and audio versions of the book from your local library. I download the audio version and blue tooth it to the car radio and the kids are spell bound.

The one who loves the audio books the most is Evan. He's an auditory learner, he sponges up what he hears (not so good for us when us adults talk and use non-kosher language) and thoroughly immerses himself in it. After the Roald Dahl that we started with, we moved to the How to Train a Dragon series which he loved and got him started on the novels after. His How to Train a Dragon series is a very well-worn, well loved set. Jordan and Muffin however, only just tolerated the 11 book series and jointly put their foot down when he wanted to re-listen to the entire set again once he was complete. They and myself included were Dragon-ed out by then.

The thing with audio books is that how riveting it is depends very much on the reader. We tried to distract them with Kipling's Just-So stories which I had read to them before but they wouldn't bite because the reader was a yawn. We tried many others but we kept falling back on the Roald Dahls and Dragon ones. We had the Harry Potter books in store but we had initially wanted to wait till next year when they were a bit older but with all that bickering in the car, we caved and started them on it.

Can I just say that the Potter series is great? Stephen Fry reads the books and he does different voices and he makes his voice echo-ey or ghoul like depending on what was needed. The twins love it. Muffin isn't as keen on it but we suspect it's because the story is so dense, he finds it difficult to keep up.

Evan started to ask for random car rides just so that he could hear more of the story until I told him he could open the book to where he stopped in the car and read on. This was a holiday morning and at 11am that morning, he was still in pyjamas because he hadn't stopped reading. It was then that I recalled how big a phenomenon the Potter books were when they released, to the point that television viewership numbers always dropped after a Potter book got released.

Based on what he had heard and read in the first book, Evan came up with his version of Hogwarts. It was truly comprehensive with the towers, the dungeons, the 3-headed dog and even the Philosopher's Stone, only missing out the Quidditch pitch which he said he would work on next.

To round it all off, we sat with them and watched the movie. Now, that was a bit too intense for them, especially the ending though Packrat and I realised that watching it with JED was a different experience from when we saw it for the very first time all those years ago. All the special effects were readily appreciated. The highlight of the movie was obviously any part that had flying brooms for Evan and Jordan wanted to go to a school where the staircases moved. Muffin wanted a hat like the Sorting Hat which could talk.

Unfortunately, not all book experiences can be multi-sensorial. But it really isn't a bad place to start.


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