Reluctant Shared Storybook Reading by A.A.C Users.

Shared storybook reading is not a favourite time for some of my students. Do you have similar issues with any of your students? Particularly those who are A.A.C. users? Read on for information gained from a wonderful webinar. There will be a link for you to access it yourself and gain an hour of C.E.U. (P.D.) to boot!

Teacher and a student who uses A.A.C. and is a reluctant to participate in shared storybook reading.
A.A.C. learners who don’t like shared storybook reading

A.A.C. In The Cloud Webinars

First of all let’s talk about A.A.C. in the cloud. A collection of wonderful webinars by people leading in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication, sponsored by Cough Drop. For 2 days in June, webinars streamed live via 3 different streams. There is a wealth of information and it is free! If you are quick you too can access these webinars and gain great ideas. At the end of viewing on their site (not on You Tube) you can download an official certificate to claim the hours.

‘Shared Storybook Reading For Those Who Don’t Like Books’ Webinar

This presentation caught my eye. I have a couple of kids who no matter what I tried, were not interested in looking at books. They certainly did not want to share a storybook with me. One would look anywhere except where I wanted him to. The other screamed or laughed hysterically to avoid shared reading time. Chana Feinstein’s presentation gave some great advice and ideas on how to make shared storybook reading time awesome.

What is Shared Reading?

As Chana pointed out, shared reading involves an interaction between two or more people as they read or look at a book together. It requires dialogue between the two where the focus is on the conversation not exclusively the text.

Why is it important?

  • improves receptive and expressive skills
  • teaches about conversation
  • provides background knowledge
  • teaches how to structure language and stories
  • teaches emergent literacy skills
  • provides exposure to a shared enjoyable activity that can lead in the future to an independent free time choice

How Do We Encourage Shared Story Book Reading?

A suggestion is to use the C.A.R. approach. This is not new to teachers but it is always handy to have a reminder. C is for comment. Comment on something that you see in a picture or read in a text. For emergent readers it will most likely be the picture. A is for ask. Ask a question to add to thinking or to gain a response which of course the R represents in the acronym.

What if the student is non-verbal?

We respond to whatever the student supplies whether it is an eye flicker, a nod, a movement of the hand, pointing to the picture or a symbol on a board or device and, we attribute meaning. Chana went on to remind that (ask) represents a range of questions and that for our students who are very emergent learners, we accept all answers. It is not testing it is encouraging interaction – any interaction.

How Do We Get Kids Interested?

Chana suggests we first get students interested in pictures, before moving on to stories. Next, give them something to do during the shared storybook experience. A key way to do this is to use adapted and interactive books. Chana went on to suggest some great ideas how to go about adapting books to engage reluctant learners.

Add shared reading into a schedule

photo of a student engaging in a 3 part picture schedule. The photo shows the child completing a puzzle as the first part of the schedule. The next picture on schedule is the book then another preferred activity.
Schedule for introducing story books

One idea I had for one of my students to learn to engage with books, was to schedule it in to her day. When my other students did independent or shared reading with my support assistants, I sat this student at a table with an individual schedule with three activities. As we can see in the photo, the first activity is a task with a defined beginning and end. It is a preferred activity. The next activity is a book that is very familiar. The last activity is again a preferred one. The tasks to complete are all placed in the green box. The finished tasks are placed in the red box. This provides structure for the student and decreases anxiety.

Initially she simply placed the book immediately in the red box. Ultimately she started to look at the cover, then one page, then more. As she became more comfortable around the book I started to join her and talk about the pictures. Ultimately she allowed a range of adults to join her and engage in shared reading of a range of similar books. This student now joins her peers at shared reading times and remains calm (most of the time).

Ready to find out more?

Simply click on the link and it will take you to the website. Be quick as I am not sure how long the webinars will be on line in order to gain the certification for viewing. I think I read 3 months but … They will be available on You Tube permanently. CLICK HERE for Chana’s Shared Story webinar or click here to view the entire schedule.

Another great webinar resource

Another wonderful webinar series to support A.A.C. users is the ASF Communication Training Series. Initially these webinars were started for children and supporters/teachers of students with Angelmans Syndrome, it is extremely applicable for all A.A.C. students. This one by Erin Sheldon provides some background info on accessibility and engagement of shared reading along with levels of emergent learners. And this one by Caroline Musselwhite about how to make shared reading fun for all early emergent readers (including those that are older students) who are also A.A.C. users.

Adapted Books

I have made some great adapted books (which also focus on core words) that will support you to engage students in shared reading. You can click on the link here to go to Literacy where you will find my current ones. Look out for more in the near future.

Enjoy the webinars and resources.

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Aroha, Ann

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