Getting Your ADHD Child to Read

August 15, 2011 by Dr.Yannick Pauli

Reading is an important part of a child’s development, both intellectually and emotionally. This is especially important for ADHD children, who tend to lack the focus and interest needed for a quiet sit-down activity. Getting an ADHD kid interested in reading will not only open countless doors to success, but some experts believe that avid reading helps improve ADHD.

Parents can look to Rick Riordan, author of the popular Percy Jackson series, and his son Haley for inspiration. Haley was a difficult ADHD child, always trying to avoid reading, school and homework. Rick tried to get his son interested in reading by telling him bedtime stories of a kid named Percy Jackson who was just like him, ADHD and all, and his amazing adventures. Haley loved the stories so much that Rick decided to write them down, eventually publishing the best-selling series. Nine years later, Haley has become an enthusiastic reader with dreams of becoming a writer just like his dear old dad. As a testament to his improvement, he overcame both ADHD and dyslexia to complete his very first 600-page manuscript at the age of 16.

Reading might be able to do the same for your ADHD child. Here are a few tips to help increase your little one’s interest in reading and spark a lifelong passion for it:

Read along with them

One reason a lot of kids – even those without ADHD – don’t like reading is because the prospect of sitting still and being quiet with nothing but a book to occupy their time sounds boring. Even if you tell them about how exciting the story is, they still won’t expect it to be fun because they don’t see it being fun.

You can get past this barrier by being a good example. Grab a book for your child and one for yourself, and start reading. Better yet, share a book with her. Read the story out loud with her and bring it to life by giving each character a unique voice. Get your little one to participate by letting her read pages on her own, or let her voice her own character. Not only does it break the “boring” image of reading, it’s also a great way to bond.

Break it down into bite-sized chunks

Some ADHD kids might find reading exhausting because of all the focus it requires – this is especially true if they’re just starting out. Make things easier for your child by taking a break between chapters or after a fixed number of pages. You can use this time to recap what happened, and ask your kid what she thinks of it. You can also get her hooked into the story by asking her what she thinks will happen next, telling her that there’s only one way to find out if she’s right.

Act it out

For ADHD kids brimming with excess kinesthetic energy, role-playing the story is one of the best ways to get them engaged in books. Assign yourselves a character, read out a scene, and then act it out together. Pretend play stimulates the imagination and brings a fun new dimension to reading.