Books. Books. And more books. If you walk into our home, that’s pretty much what you’ll find. I’ve been collecting children’s books since my first year as a teacher, so my home is exploding with books. I was subscribed to a mail-in Book-of-the-Month-Club (remember those?) Books arrived at my door on a monthly basis, and I just couldn’t return them once they were in my hands. Even though my little guy can’t read yet, I have bombarded him with books and stories since before his birth.
While books are just scrumptious, the truth is that some books are better than others for the child with special needs. In this post, I share just what those are and why.
Why some books may be a challenge for children with special needs
- For the child who likes to mouth things, he may also be tempted to chew up a book – making it not only a choking hazard, but a money hazard as well (books are not cheap!)
- Books with paper pages are difficult for a child with fine motor delays to manipulate.
- Some children may have zero interest in books whatsoever – and it’s not because they can’t read.
- Children with shorter attention spans may not stick with a book for very long.
Suggestions for books for children with special needs
- Fabric and Velcro Books. For the chewer and the biter, you must own some fabric books. You can make them yourself if you are creative. But, there are plenty on the market these days, so save yourself some time.
- Musical Books. Musical books like the one in the image below, are often quite sturdy. My son took to this book at a very early age because he was able to finally turn some pages himself. And, he still loves to flip through this one.
- Interactive Books. The best books in which your child can practice using the pointer finger are interactive books. Children usually stick with interactive books for longer than other books, so it’s a good place to start with some children.
- Board books. Since board books are thick and sturdy, get your hands on these. If you can find board books with tabs for easy page-turning, all the better!
- Flip and pop-up books. Flip and pop-up books are often board books, too. They add an extra element of interest and often appeal to children who don’t normally have an interest in books no matter how funny the book is. You don’t even have to read these books. You can use them as motivation for that type of child so that he can begin to see that books can be fun.
- Textured books. What a great way to get those sensory sensitive children to interact with different textures! Do it through books!
- Picture books. You will find a slew of picture books. These are paperback books with glorious images. I recommend beginning with repetitive or predictable books (ex: The Three Little Pigs, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear) as well as with cumulative books (ex: I Know an Old Lady, and Henny Penny). It not only piques their interest, but it helps children engage with the story because they know what will come next. Here is a list of types of picture books you should begin collecting and why:
- Repetitive/ Predictable – engages child
- Cummulative – engages child
- Wordless – allows child/ parent to create the story
- Traditional (fairytales, fables, folktales, myths and legends) – great for storytelling without the books!
- Rhymes and poetry– helps with language building
- Alphabet and Number books – for children who are ready to learn their letters and numbers
- Informational books – the realistic images are usually stunning, even if the book is too advanced for your child.
- Themed books – as supplements to your educational units
- Big books – oversized books pique a child’s interest and make family story sharing fun
- Chapter books. Use chapter books for children who are at this reading level. If they are below the reading level, but have the attention span, read aloud to your child. Collect fiction as well as non-fiction. From my experience as a classroom teacher, boys are mostly drawn to non-fiction. The shorter texts and images are appealing to them because they are manageable in small chunks. There is a study that correlates this to the male brain (think about how many men prefer newspapers and magazines as adults).
- Graphic novels. For children who are struggling readers, take a look at graphic novels. The illustrations and shorter texts make reading manageable for these types of readers.
- Audiobooks. I have a personal love affair with audiobooks and podcasts myself. It allows me to multitask while enjoying a good book. For restless children, and struggling readers, you must take a look at the audiobooks available. Not only are they affordable, but they can be transported and listened to over and over again.
- Online books. Don’t forget about books you can interact with through a computer/ tablet! Some kids love that they can more easily control books this way, but also, that the books can be read to them even when mom and dad are tired!
Does your child like books? What are favorites in your home?