Nice quote

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can." Neil Gaimon


A facebook thread on reading on Radical Unschooling Info facebook group:

Nice article on reading and Minecraft (on video games helping kids learn to why?....Because they are motivated and interested!!):

Some links to check out:

I would not recommend using any specific approach to try to get your child to read.  They will read when they are developmentally ready.  Read to them often if they like.  Make your environment a literature rich one filled with books and magazines, etc that your family would enjoy.  Visit the library.  Model reading yourself.  Express excitement and appreciation (if it is authentic) when magazines or books come in the mail or come by request to the library.  

I once read a suggestion in a post about an idea to help a child who wants to be able to read more words and feels frustrated.  The suggestion was to make a list of words on a piece of paper that s/he can read as maybe it would help to see them on paper and they might be surprised at how many words they already DO know how to read!  We did this for Makana and she was pleased at seeing a list of words she already knew.  We added to it little by little for awhile and soon filled up a whole sheet of paper.  

It might be fun to make up a matching game (like go fish) with the words they already know.  

If it strikes your child's fancy, label large sturdy stock cards (6" x 22") with black thick marker and put them on a few things in the house.  Let your child choose what to label...some ideas....EXIT for one side of the door and WELCOME for the other side.  Or label your child's door to their room - ie. "Makana's Room" or label another room - 
ie. "playroom" or "Dad's Office"  

Gentle Revolution sells blank card stock though you might be able to make your own if you wanted to.  

If your kids would like to, help them make their own books!  There are many creative ways to do so (look online for ideas).  Our local library has had afternoons to make and sew your own books with materials provided for free.  If you are assisting your child with making a book, go with their energy and flow.  Let them be creative and make it their own way.  Give them the freedom to keep creating, or stop at any time.  

Nice inspirational reminder from Ronnie Maier -
"With unschooling, kids aren't all expected to have the same sort of intelligence. Verbal and logical intelligences aren't valued more, so kids with other intelligences aren't at risk as they are in school. 

For example, a boy with kinesthetic intelligence might be a discipline case in school, or labeled with dyslexia or ADD, or simply made to feel stupid. As an unschooler, that same boy might learn his ABC's while jumping on the trampoline, start reading while playing video games, or simply and beautifully excel in some physical pursuit. Most importantly, he will never be made to feel he's less for being who he is." —Ronnie Maier

Makana Reads "Go Dog, Go!"
This morning Makana (age 7) picked up Go Dog GO to read to Kanoa (age 3). He lost interest, but she read it to me and herself aloud! She was so surprised that suddenly she could do it! I was excited for her! Before she could only read some words. This time, she got all the words except for two of them! This is an example of her being able to read when she was ready.

Whenever she got in the mood for a book, Go Dog Go was the one she picked up to look through and "read" more than any other book and I know she really wanted to be able to read it word for word by herself. She would say aloud (to herself, me or someone else) what she remembered on each page, coming up with similar sentences descriptive of the pictures, but not necessarily exactly what was written. Most of the time she read it the way she could and got much enjoyment out of it. When she was frustrated in the past at not being able to read the way Jim or I or Katie or Li did, I told her that she'd be able to read when She was ready and that people are ready at different times and it would happen. We made a list of the words that she did knew and that seemed to please her.

I suspected that her ability to read it was coming as she's been writing alot over the past few months while gaming and skpying, asking me to spell or write for her when needed. I noticed that she could write and spell more and more words and I noticed that she was able to read more words as well. It was so exciting this morning to hear her read aloud and feel so happy about finally being able to do something she has been wanting to do for so long! She said that I had always said it would happen when she was ready, and it did! Awesome!

Emily's daughter learns to read 
When E was 4, I blogged that I thought she was close to reading. She knew most of her letters and sounds and was very interested in trying. It didn't happen though. Her brain wasn't ready yet.

When she was 6, I thought she was close. She was skills-wise, but not time-wise. It has been a year since then.

We have never done a "reading lesson." We have never done a curriculum or workbooks. There has never been a single tear over trying to read and I've never pushed her.

I've read many books to her since she was a baby. We've paid attention to the words in our lives- on signs, cereal boxes, labels, video games and everywhere else. She's played Starfall and similar games. I've told her the sounds of letters as she has been interested. We've played with magnet letters and banana grams. She's played with a few workbooks, and when I say played I really mean just that. The workbooks sit with the coloring books in our house and are treated the same way- use them if and when you want. We've played a reading flash card game the same way. I just wrote some action words on index cars (play, dance, sing, etc) and when I'd hold one up, she'd read it and do the action. It has been a fun, totally optional game that L has enjoyed as well.

However, I've never once sat down with her and said or implied, "Now it's time to try to learn to read."

A few weeks ago, she read The Foot Book and half of another book that was at the doctor's office and I don't remember the name of it. Some of The Foot Book was memorized, but she also sounded out a lot of words, and started picking up on some sight words.

Then she didn't do anything reading related for weeks, which is typical. She often has a big interest in something, then drops it for weeks or months, then picks it up again with sudden, new skills.

Yesterday, she was looking for The Foot Book and we couldn't find it. Today, I found it and handed it to her. She read it and then asked for more books to read. I pulled out Green Eggs and Ham and she read the whole thing!. I helped her with a few words that couldn't be sounded out and she didn't know from sight,
but other than that, she figured it out on her own while I just sat with her.

Her reading was interspersed every few sentences with, "Mom! I'm reading! Hehe! Yay! I'm reading! Hey you know what's more fun than watching tv? Me learning to read!"

(And on that note, we don't restrict tv watching and she could have chosen to do that instead with no pressure to do otherwise. Her sister was actually watching a movie in the same room the whole time she was reading the book. She chose to read).

*I changed some grammar and spelling issues and added a few more details from the original post.

Update: It's been about 3 months since I wrote that, and she has not done a lot of book reading since then. However, she is still doing a lot of reading related things. She has read parts of recipes to me while we cook, read signs and labels, and played reading games. She woke up one morning last week and immediately said she wanted to "play a game that will help me read better," so we did some sound flash cards. Yesterday and today, we saw signs that said "stop" and "slow" while driving, and E,L and I started playing a game figuring out how to spell words that rhymed with stop and slow, based on how those two words are spelled. So, since stop is S-T-O-P, they were able to figure out that cop is C-O-P and mop is M-O-P and so on with half a dozen other words. Since slow is S-L-O-W, they were able to figure out row, bow, arrow, mow, and tow.

A post on the radicalunschooling yahoo group from Melissa Johnson from MD on November 19, 2011 on a thread called "Wanting To Read" -
I think part of the trick is realizing that our society (read "compulsory- schooling- based society") has created this artificial construct that children must be reading by such-and-such an age. This is completely false and by pushing them to get to such an age, we mostly destroy their desire to read and then have to resort to punishment (no TV!) or rewards (you get to go to Pizza Hut if you read this many books). The reward should be in the enjoyment of reading itself! Dan Greenberg (founder of Sudbury Valley) once said "The only way a child won't get around to reading (at SVS) is if he doesn't find it a useful tool". ....(snip).....My girls are 10 and 12 and learned to read by just gathering more and more words into what I call their "word banks" in their heads. As they asked how to spell a word, I told them. When they asked "what does this say", I told them. And their friends told them, and their grandparents told them, and their dad. The word banks are filling up all the time. Now, I find my 12 y.o. asking the 10 y.o. how to spell things---her word bank is "fuller" than the 12 y.o.'s, I guess. :) But taking out the idea that they should learn by a certain age has helped tremendously. And texting is such a great tool! The 12 y.o. texts a LOT (thank goodness for unlimited texting plans) and her spelling is getting better and better and she doesn't have to ask so much how to spell words (not that I mind if she does).

"The Report Card" is a fiction book by Andrew Clements.  It is about a girl named Nora who is in middle school and is exceptionally brilliant.  Nora does not want to let others know because she does not want to be treated or thought of as any different from anyone else.   In fifth grade, her friend Stephen becomes very anxious about grades as do most of the kids.  To help show her friend that grades don't really reflect what one knows, she purposely gets all D's on her report card (and one C by accident).  I won't give away the rest of the story, but it is a good read!  My 12 yr old daughter (at the time) asked me to read it and thought I'd like it.  She was right!  I was excited to read it when I noticed that the author thanked Alfie Kohn!  Also, the librarian in the book advises Nora that there are always at least two choices to make and to pick the better one.  Reminds me of Sandra Dodd's suggestions on her site!  
Here is a video link in which Andrew Clements talks about his son in Kindergarten who pretended not to be able to read because of the way his classmate treated him. (If you scroll way down, the link should go to "Clements on Reading") 

GREAT blogpost!!!  
5 Ways To Help Someone HATE Reading by grown unschooler Idzie Desmarais:


Dyslexia posts and links: 

The link below to How do you handle something like dyslexia? no longer works. I found the thread thanks to the Wayback Machine and posted it below.  See Meredith's and Sandra's posts especially.  This is the link that doesn't work:

How do you handle something like dyslexia?

My daughter is 8, she has been ready and very interested in learning to read since age 4. I suspect dyslexia though as her fathers brother and sister are both extremly dyslexic and my sister is even math dyslexic so it runs in the family. She loves trying to learn to read but gets frustrated quickly and is very difficult for her. When she writes it is perfect.........if you hold it up in a mirror. I have gone through checklists for dyslexia and it looks very promising that she may be struggling with it. I am not sure how to help her at this time with it and I can not afford to have a doctor test her as she has no medical insurance. The school will not test her unless I enroll her. I am very patient with her and will not let her adult sister help her due to her total lack of patience. I do not make a big deal out of it at all and keep assuring her she will learn to read and we keep trying on days she is interested which is on a fairly consistent and frequent basis. I do not think this is a case of she just is not ready, there are many signs of dyslexia here! Any input on how to help her would be appreciated as it is giving her real low self esteem, not by me but she has had experiences with school friends that teased her including an adult woman telling her she was too stupid to play with her daugher and she needs to go to public school to actually learn something. Thankfully we have moved from that area and do not have that problem anymore but the damage was done............

You need to be a member of Radical Unschoolers Network to add comments!

Comment by Meredith on November 14, 2009 at 4:10pm
Its important to know that "interest" is not a sign of reading readiness - teachers will tell you otherwise bc in a teaching situation, "interest" is hard to come by! But unschoolers are interested in so many things, some of them well before they are "ready" to handle those skills. 8 isn't that old to be not reading - some countries don't start teaching reading in schools before 8! Its still really very young. If she's writing at all, then she's learning literacy skills, you can be sure (even is she wasn't writing, but you mentioned she writes).

Generally speaking, people with dyslexia learn to read by a different route than others. They tend not to utilize phonics, for instance, but rely heavily on context for understanding. So providing more context - stories with picture, subtitles on movies, read-along stories - those will all help someone with dyslexia, any kind of dyslexia, develop their own strategies for processing information. A friend of mine's dd read sentences before words, so I'm not just talking about "whole word" approaches (although some find that a useful tool, do you know about "word windows"?). Some people with dyslexia won't seem to read - or have any sense of themselves reading - until they are 11, 12, even 13, and then all of a sudden are reading, as though the process were like one of those "magic eye" images and suddenly came into focus.

Its also important to realize the one can have written dyslexia without the writing component. My dd seems to have no dyslexia when she reads, but still, at 8, regularly writes letters and numbers backwards and disordered. She may have two separate issues going on, one where she's writing letters/words backwards (and its interesting that its consistent enough to be read in a mirror, Mo's is random), and the other where she's learning to read via a different process, one that tends to go unrecognized by "education professionals".
Comment by John Hayes on November 8, 2009 at 12:22am
I collect links to free dyslexia help products,programs and services and post the collection of links at .

One unusual link is to to a program to teach dyslexics K-3 how to read. The program is a series of step by step lessons and comes with free down loadable work sheets. It is actually designed for teachers by teachers to use in the classroom and so is slanted towards teaching small groups of children but the information can easily be modified for home schooling. Like all the other links on my links page for dyslexics it is free.

If you are interested in visual dyslexia you can visit my home page for more information.
Comment by Sandra Dodd on October 27, 2009 at 12:15pm
Each child learns to read (words or numbers) in his or her own way, so there's no reason to "handle" suspected dyslexia except not to make a deal about it, keep helping the child do things, read to her, play games, live a rich life, and at some point she will figure out how to read. It's happened over and over.

Lots of reading stories are here:
Comment by Rainbow Rivers on October 23, 2009 at 8:33pm
LOL actually I have never heard of it before either and this was a fairly recent conversation I had with her where she said she was tested as there are different types of dyslexia. It is not so much as writing numbers backwards but simple things such as telling time on a normal clock are impossible for her and I remember the frustration of my mom trying to teach her how to tell time as kids. She is now 42 and still can not tell time on a normal clock. Also she can not balance a checkbook, something to do with numbers look all jumbled to her and she can not figure them out. Weird I know but true, she will stare at a clock forever trying to figure it out. As far as things like trying to balance a checkbook goes I am not sure where she goes wrong as I have never seen her checkbook but I dont think she writes the numbers backwards but if she should write a 9 she writes a 0 instead or something like that. She has had her kids balance her checkbook for years now. I never thought much of it as a kid, just knew she could not get simple numbers or times down for some reason.
Comment by Jamie Jetson on October 23, 2009 at 6:48pm
Oh my goodness!!! Math dyslexia??? I think my daughter has that and we've been dealing with it. ( I've never heard of it and don't get on computers often. I will research it now.) She's also very smart and I think she worked through it. But so very oddly for so long wrote EVERY single number backwards. Is this what you're talking about???? She's begun to write numbers correctly now, but she's 8 and I haven't pursued mcuh math education yet.
Comment by Rainbow Rivers on October 23, 2009 at 3:44pm
Thankyou for the tips, I will definatly try these with her to see if it helps!
Comment by Slinky on October 23, 2009 at 3:12pm
There are these alphabet cards where the letters have a rough texture to them. A friend of mine who did school at home used them for her daughter who was dyslexic. the idea is you trace the letters with your finger as you say it and look at it and the added sensory stimulus helps you to remember the way the shape goes.

Also for reading try getting different color transparencies and lay them over the top of what is being read. This is a technique a lot of college level people with dyslexia use. I think most find either blue or orange helpful.

Information to do with dyslexia and unschooling -

Here is a copy of a post I saved that has to do with dyslexia - 

Re: dyslexia

Posted by: ""   kellyinsc

Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:31 pm (PDT)

-----Original Message-----
From: Kim Musolff <kmoose75@gmail. com>

So is dyslexia (like ADHD) really only a problem in school, where
children are forced to learn to read in a certain way, that doesn't comply with
the way their brain works?


I don't think it has so much to do with the "certain way" of learning
to read as it does with the *timing*. Forcing it too *soon* seems to be
the problem to me. Well, THAT and...ummmm. ..forcing at ALL! <BWG>


The little bit of reading on dyslexia that I have done suggests that the
sooner a child with dyslexia gets help, the better. Do you think that
would not be true with an unschooler, because of the nature of learning?


You're reading about children in SCHOOL who are struggling to read. I
don't think it has so much to do with the "nature of learning"
(although it *does*) as it it does with the excessive *need* in school
to keep to a time table.

*We*, as unschooling parents have all the time in the world to read to
and for our children. School teachers with 30 kids at a time canNOT
give such individualized attention to each and every child. Plus, if
they don't get those kids to read *soon*, the teachers' own "report
cards" may be bad, and they could lose their jobs. such
luck. Seems you can't FIRE a teacher! <g> And even if you *could*, the
shortage would mean that teacher would be hired by the another school
one district over! <g>

But seriously <g>, there is NO hurry with unschooling. So there's no
time table to worry about. So it becomes a non-issue. Even a *true*
dyslexic will figure out reading with a little more time.

And I don't know of one, single grown unschooler who cannot read---and
read very, very well. But I know of many schooled adults who cannot
read. And many, MANY more who hate it!


Kelly Lovejoy
Conference Coordinator
Live and Learn Unschooling Conference
http://www.LiveandL earnConference. org

A book someone mentioned that was positive about dyslexia:
"The Gifts of Dyslexia" by Ronald Davis

The Advantages of Dyslexia With reading difficulties can come other cognitive strengths 

Bookshare: Bookshare is an online library of digital books for people with print disabilities.  Members are required to register and provide a Proof of Disability.  Members are able to download books and newspapers, read them using adaptive technology (such as software that reads the book aloud or displays the text on the computer screen, etc).
(Thank you Julie K. for sharing this link!)

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped: That All May Read 
The National Library Service (NLS) is a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS offers books the way you want them: in braille or audio formats, mailed to your door for free, or instantly downloadable.


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