Reading is Breathing

teaching special needs children books

I have always loved to read. Some of my earliest memories surround books. Books about young orphans like Eight Cousins, Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables; books of adventure like Around the World in Eighty Days and The Swiss Family Robinson; and spooky tales from Edgar Allan Poe. I could go anywhere, be anyone and live any adventure.

During high school and university, I read what my professors chose and learned to love a variety of authors and genres. Books I never would have chosen like Their Eyes Were Watching God and Tess of d’Ubervilles became personal favorites and expanded my heart and mind.

Years later after college, I read for escape. BJ and I were trying to start a family and infertility treatments were miserable. I escaped my sorrow by burying myself in books. I read silly romance novels, adventures from Clive Cussler and popular fiction. I was really into what I call “mind candy.” Mind candy is an easy read, one that has high action and keeps my attention easily, but doesn’t require great mind power.

Once I had children, I began to collect the best picture books: David Shannon, Mo Williams, Dr. Seuss, and Eric Carle. I read to my children as much as they would listen and during their nap times, I would read my own picks. Those days it was parenting books, self-help, and books about autism.

Lately, I have an audiobook (or two or three) always queued up ready for a listen. I have discovered a love for young adult literature (mostly because it is easy to get through without too much effort) but I have also set a goal to read the 100 Great Books. Cousin Bette has been a favorite so far.

Reading is breathing. I could not live without a novel by my bed, visits to the library and a parenting book dog-eared and well-loved waiting for my return.

I had always dreamed of my children loving my favorite childhood books. I hoped we would read together, sharing laughs over a funny line, and crying over the death of a beloved character.  However, as a mother of three children with special needs, it is a struggle for some to read at all.

But I haven’t given up. I am still reading at bedtime to those who will listen. My shelves are stocked with books and we visit the library weekly. I now insist during long drives that we listen to books instead of watching movies and some of my children have their own audiobook accounts (thank you Hoopla, Overdrive, and Audible). And I share fun stories from my own reads with them.

I love being able to get lost in the adventure of a story, to live a life I will never live, to understand human nature better through a book. Reading expands who we are and teaches us so much about the world. I will continue to find ways to teach my children to love a story and find their own adventure waiting there.

How are you teaching your children with special needs to love books and stories?


I’m linking up with Finish the Sentence Friday with Finding Ninee.

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0 thoughts on “Reading is Breathing

  1. My son’s favorite thing is not reading, although once I gave in to some zombie type books, he’s been more interested. I, too, will continue trying to help him love some of the ones I have loved forever, too. I remember Their Eyes Were Watching God but the one that got me that I’d never have heard of without it being an assignment was Sula. I think I read that book about 20 times over the years. I should read it again because just typing this makes me miss it!
    So glad you linked up with Finish the Sentence!

  2. I love your question, how do you get your children (with special needs) to love reading. For me, that was difficult and my daughter doesn’t really love reading like I love to read. At thirty-seven, she reads because she has to, not because she wants to and that does make me sad. I don’t know if there is an easy answer to that question. Maybe it is that some people are readers and others are not. I know that for me, a book seems to come along at a time I need to read it. Lately, I read more memoirs because I want to connect with other people and their personal stories. I hope your kids learn to love to read. I so wish my daughter liked to talk about a good book. It would broaden her world so much.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful answer. I do hope my children learn the love of reading. And memoirs when well written are some of my favorite reads.

  3. I thought I would miss out on the reading together concept entirely, as Marcus never cared for books past the picture book stage…until he did again. Since he’s begun working on his own stories, we occasionally read short chapter books together sometimes. We recently read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” – I didn’t read that as a child and I LOVED it this time around. Still so relevant from a parent’s perspective, too. ANYway, I also loved, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” Amazing. The book I wouldn’t have read without a push is “The Cancer Ward” Not light reading, but so great and layered.

  4. Oh My – I have another thing (or two) to add.
    Your kids look pretty young, but as they grow up there’s a GREAT program called The Next Chapter Book Club. We have Many groups in our town – it’s a book club for adults with developmental delays and they read together (any reading level!) and it is SO GREAT. Families often say their kids (grown) NEVER showed an interest in reading before and they love Book Club. Here’s a link to their site:

  5. OK – ONE MORE THING – And you can delete this if you feel it isn’t appropriate in your comments, but I would be remiss to not mention my son Marcus’ children’s book – which your kids may enjoy. 🙂

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