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Finding resources in the library can be difficult for any student, but it can be especially challenging for students with learning disabilities and ADHD. Maybe nothing seems interesting to them, or perhaps they can’t find books they can comfortably read. Below are five suggested ways to help engage struggling readers at the library.

  • Graphic Novels can be a great way to engage readers who may not be ready or interested in chapter books. Graphic novels look similar to a comic book and span many genres both fiction and nonfiction, even biographies. This genre has been gaining more momentum and recognition as its popularity grows with students. Graphic novels can be a great bridge from picture books to chapter books, or just a book of interest for students. Not only do the pictures keep students engaged, but the text is also not as intimidating as a standard chapter book.
  • Audio books can also be a great way to engage readers as well. Many public libraries offer free audiobooks that can be checked out with a library card. There are also Playaways, which are handheld and great for vacations and long bus rides. Playaways are self-loaded digital audiobooks. If students have a diagnosed Learning Disability, they are eligible for Learning Ally, a website that offers thousands of audiobooks, many of which include the text highlighted as it is read.
  • Being silly and being active with books may hook your reader. If younger students are not interested in books, making books more engaging can be a great way to get younger students interested. This could include acting the book out or doing a Reader’s Theater. Using funny voices for the characters can help bring the characters to life. Students can draw pictures as they listen to a book, engaging their imagination with the story. No matter what the age of students, so many of them love being read aloud to. Reading aloud to students can help them become interested in books and can help encourage them to read on their own. Partner reading is always fun too! Pairing an older student with a younger one as a book buddy can be so beneficial. This is a great way to promote the love of reading, build confidence and strengthen relationships. 
  • Finding a book series of interest is a great way to keep students engaged in reading. They get to follow their favorite characters throughout several books, and it gives a sense of comfort to know the story will follow certain guidelines. 
  • Find out what interests students, and I bet there are books about those topics. The idea is to expose students to books in any way possible. Does your student love video games? Great! There are even Minecraft and Fortnite books available. Once students find a book of interest, their love of reading can grow and expand to a wider variety of books. 

I believe author Michael Morpurgo says it well. “Libraries are browsing places, dreaming places, finding out places. So much education takes place when children are making choices of their own.” Students greatly benefit from both guidance and independence when they are at the library. 

Library Media Specialist Amanda Forbes shares her knowledge in literature, library media, and technology, and in supporting students in literacy and digital information skills. If you have questions, please contact Amanda at aforbes@springer-ld.org.

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