Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students - Resources

Where, oh, where do I begin on today's post? How did I get started on this quest to share so much information on such a broad topic? Oh yes, it started with sharing our curriculum for the year. A couple of people then asked me if I had ideas for low vision children in the primary grades. I had intended to provide tangible help...but, until this post, I have shared only general ideas and methods. But honestly, it was those general ideas that kept me calm and confident when my son suddenly became legally blind at the age of nine and we could no longer keep up with the type of curriculum I had used with my older children.

Perhaps your child doesn't have vision issues. I will include resources about Braille and low vision, as that is where my experience is, but they will be last in the list; and, most of the other ideas and resources should be very helpful for reluctant readers, as well. Also, I am Catholic so some (though not all) of my resources are by Catholic writers and some (but not all) of their resources may be Catholic resources. So, if you are not yourself Catholic, not to worry; there is still plenty here for you. I used to hear that the first rule of writing is "write what you know". I am writing what I know and love, and what I have dealt with. I am sharing with you what I have found in case it might help you in any way with what you are dealing with. And if your children are neither low vision students or reluctant readers, frankly, much of what is here could still be helpful.

If you are coming to this post without having read the three previous posts, I would like to invite you to scroll down (now or later), below my signature, to links where you can read those posts.

What Drew Me to a Charlotte Mason Education by Karen Andreola

Free Homeschool Curriculum (Charlotte Mason) - Ambleside Online

A Free Online Catholic Charlotte Mason Curriculum - Mater Amabilis

Free Books Online!


A Picture Perfect Childhood by Cay Gibson
Includes many lists of beautiful picture books to get from your library or for your own person library, even including a list for "Teenaged Readers and Reluctant Readers"
Read an Amazon review of this book here.
For the Love of Literature by Maureen Wittmann
Includes lists of whole books for history, science, art and other core subjects.
Read my Amazon review of this book here.



While I'm generally in favor of reading primary sources and "the real thing", sometimes it can be good to get the flavor of a writer, such as G.K. Chesterton, or the culture of a writer, such as William Shakespeare.
Easy-to-Read Shakespeare
Although I have not read these graphic novels myself, the Timberdoodle people recommend them. The caveat they offer is that although the books are written at a fourth-grade reading level, Shakespeare's topics involve humanity at its best and worst. I am thinking we might try these next year in our senior year of high school.
Tales of Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
This can be a great way to get a simple overview of the story lines, although it's not a substitute for hearing the language of Shakespeare himself.

Chesterton's writings are difficult for many adults (myself included). However, his Father Brown mystery stories, such as The Innocence of Father Brown, provide an interesting introduction.
The Father Brown Reader by Nancy Brown
Provides three of Chesterton's Father Brown stories, adapted for children (and interesting for adults, too!).
Read my Amazon review here.


Children with low vision sometimes find it a lot of work to read with magnification. For some, it might always be work and might fatigue the eyes, but for some it's just about learning how to track, and getting comfortable with the adjustment. Some of this might depend partly on what the particular eye condition is.

Personally, I think it's great to let students do the fun things they want to do, and let them work up to doing the "school" things you want them to do in tiny steps. (Remember that you can always read to them, or let them listen to tapes, for content subjects.) My son learned to track with his CCTV (video magnifier) by using it one summer so that he could play Gameboy like his brothers and friends. He learned to use his hand magnifier when he wanted to look at Lego instructions in his bedroom (the CCTV being in the living room). He is improving his reading by reading articles in Sports Illustrated. One of my mottoes is: Whenever possible, let them learn skills by having fun.

All Children Have Different Eyes, Learn to Play and Make Friends by Edie Glaser and Maria Burgio, Ph.D.

This is a cool, colorful book for children, perfectly suited both to the low vision child and to other children so they will understand, in a positive way, the needs of people with low vision.
Read my review of the book here.

When you think of Braille, perhaps you think of blindness, not "low vision". Actually, there is a fine line between "low vision" and "blind"...or more accurately, there really isn't much of a line. At any rate, I am glad that my legally blind son and I took the time for him to learn how to read Braille, even though it has not became his primary reading medium. I recommend it, so that your child can read restroom signs, labels on tapes, and so on. And if there is any chance that he or she might lose more vision, learning Braille now will make it all the easier for him or her to become proficient with it if it ever becomes necessary.

Kester Braille
A great introduction to Braille for the young child...and especially friendly for parents who do not already know Braille themselves. Developed by a retired Braille teacher.
Read my review here.

Patterns: Primary Braille Reading Program
If your child is legally blind, you should be able to borrow this book on Federal Quota funds. If you don't know what I'm talking about...or if you want any other information on homeschooling blind and visually impaired children, I would suggest joining the Yahoo group where you can ask questions and there's always someone there to help:

Post 1 on Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students - Reading Readiness is Not Just for Preschoolers

Post 2 on Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students - Reading Aloud is Not Just for Kindergartners

Post 3 on Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students - Writing What a Child Dictates is Not Just for First Graders

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