Choose books based on interest, not reading levels

It seems my brain has decided this week I’m talking about tips for engaging neurodivergent people in reading! Got to love how that works…

I am AuDHD and a big reader. Both my kids are neurodivergent and read a lot when they were younger too. We all read well above our grade level.

My secret was simple, we read the books that interested us. I chose books for my kids based on their interests, not their reading level. This helped them stay engaged as they were interested in the topics. I didn’t mind too much what they read so long as they were reading.

This started from when they were quite small. When they were interested in dinosaurs, we got all the dinosaur books. When it was pirates, or trains, or lizards, or AFL football, it was the same. Those were the books I chose to give as gifts or borrow from the library.

Both kids constantly tested above their grade level, even if others deemed the books they were reading ‘too easy’. They were reading. According to my school reports, I was exactly the same.

Even now, as an adult, I choose books based on my interests, not my age or anything else. I read a wide variety of books, including kids books, because I feel like reading them. I go through stages where I read romance or adventure or non-fiction or junior fiction, or whatever else takes my fancy. Sometimes I wonder what conclusions people will make about me by browsing my bookshelves…

One of my biggest tips to engage neurodivergent children, and adults, in reading, is to not only let them read books based on their interests, but encourage it. Be their enabler. If they love books on, say, dinosaurs, get them all the dinosaur books you find, no matter if they are considered ‘too easy’ or ‘too young’. They will love the stories and learn new facts on their area of interest through these stories.

All reading counts. If someone loves to read non-fiction, they are still reading. Instead of feeling they ‘should’ be reading a novel, get them the latest non-fiction new release on their area of interest. They will appreciate it, and likely think you have got them the perfect present.

Reading levels are a great tool for teachers, not always useful for engaging readers. Even genre like ‘Young Adult’ is a guide. If you have a teenager who still enjoys middle grade books, then let them enjoy them. I’m an adult and enjoy middle grade books.

Be an enabler and choose books based on interests rather than reading level, especially for those with ADHD and autism as you will be more likely setting them up for success with reading as the topic will engage them.

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About Melissa

Melissa Gijsbers started writing when she was in High School during the 1990s, even winning some awards for a short story and a script. For many years, life got in the way of creative writing, however she did start blogging around 2006.

She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with her two sons and a pet blue tongue lizard.

Melissa Gijsbers, Author, Speaker & Booklover
Melissa Gijsbers - Author, Speaker & Booklover
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