3 Reasons Your Struggling Reader Needs a Literature-rich Homeschool

a stack of inviting readers

The journey of teaching my younger two to read and write has often been difficult. No matter how gently or how slowly I try, the frustration with letters and words is still there. And yet, in the midst of that struggle to read, there has never been a struggle with books or stories themselves. 

My kids love books. They love stories. A literature-rich education has been a constant for us, regardless of dyslexia.

Books stack two rows deep on shelves and spill over onto the floor. An audiobook blasts to life every time I start my car. My kids crowd around the tablet, not to play an app, but to listen to an audio drama. And when I announce I’m about to start reading our latest read-aloud, the kids come tearing through the house to find a seat in the living room. 

We love stories. 

Dyslexia can’t touch that. 

So when I’m asked whether a literature-rich homeschool is a good idea for a child with dyslexia, I never hesitate to answer yes! Yes, filling your life and your homeschool with literature has enormous benefits for a child with language based learning difficulties.

1. A Literature-Rich Homeschool Creates a Family Culture of Stories 

I noticed a few years ago when anyone asked my kids what they were learning in school, my kids always talked about math. It bugged me. Why, I wondered, when we were learning about Vikings, castles, knights, and wonderfully exciting stories, did my kids always talk about multiplication? Then I asked them, and their answer still makes me laugh: math was the only subject they considered school. The rest was just fun. Surrounded by real books and real stories, even my kids with reading challenges didn’t consider books to be school.

 We do more than just read books. 

Our family culture is infused with a love of stories. In our house, no one discusses reading level. If a book interests my child, it doesn’t matter if it is above or below their reading level. Even picture books have tremendous value as we talk about stories and characters and what makes a good book. 

2. A Literature-Rich Homeschool Creates Positive Memories Around Books

“Every time I drink a chocolate shake, I think of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon,” my daughter told me one day. 

 “Why’s that?” I asked. 

 “Because last summer you read that to us each day while we drank our shakes,” she explained.

It wasn’t an intentional decision on my part to pair that book with milkshakes; it just happened that way. But it’s an illustration of how stories create powerful memories.

My did the same with me as well. I remember bowls of steaming ramen soup while my mom read out loud to my siblings and me. And I remember trips home from college with a new book I couldn’t wait to read with my mom. Even today, when my mom and I get together for our annual road trips, one of the first things we plan is the book we’ll read together.

These positive memories are powerful, especially for my kids with reading challenges. Reading has no stigma or painful memories of embarrassment and failure. In spite of the time we’ve had to spend struggling through blends and syllables, our literature-rich homeschool has provided an atmosphere of positive memories around books and literature that has buoyed my kids through their language challenges.

3. A Literature-Rich Homeschool Creates Relationships Through Shared Stories

3 Reasons Your Struggling Reader Needs a Literature-rich HomeschoolOne of our favorite homeschool activities are what we affectionately call book talks. Rather than filling out reading comprehension worksheets, we sit down together with a cup of tea or coffee and talk about the book my child just finished reading. We talk about 

  • the characters and their problems

  • the setting

  • the rising action and conflict

  • the themes 

I’ll use my teacher notes about the book to guide our discussion at times, and at other times I’ll leave the script and ask my own questions: 

  • “Tell me what you liked about this book.”

  • “How was the character like you?” 

  • “How is the character in this book different from the character in your last book?”

These book talks are about so much more than literature. And it’s not uncommon for them to quickly turn into heart-to-heart conversations about difficult friendships, feelings of failure, or big questions of life a child has wanted to ask but didn’t know how to start. 

We also deepen our relationships through our shared experiences with books, as we remember the adventures we’ve been on together through the pages of a read-aloud or the miles we’ve driven while listening to an audiobook. Particular quotations from books we’ve shared together become inside jokes and part of our family culture. On rainy days, we instantly think of making tea and reading books together. When my husband has to work late, my kids’ first question is whether we can read aloud. We put on pajamas, grab blankets, and snuggle together, listening to a story until Dad gets home or bedtime rolls around.

Creating a literature-rich homeschool has nothing to do with a child’s ability or inability to read. Instead, it has everything to do with the atmosphere and fabric of your family—the memories you create for your child with the stories you share together. My kids don’t understand every word that is read, and they hardly recall every detail of a story; but we remember enough. And what we remember has been much more meaningful than anything they’ve forgotten.

See BookShark Reading with History Programs

Tracy GlockleAbout the Author

Tracy Glockle lives with her husband in Oregon where she homeschools their crew of three kids with ADHD/dyslexia. She’s constantly making adjustments for her out-of-the-box learners, finding creative ways to use their strengths to teach their weaknesses. As the frontal lobe for her family of ADHDers, Tracy loves planners and systems and organization. But housecleaning—that’s something else entirely. She enjoys black coffee, superhero action films, and reading the end of a story first. Tracy writes about homeschooling ADHD and dyslexia for several blogs including her own at Growing In Grace.