If you struggle to read …
How do you sing along in church? Follow in the bulletin? Participate in Sunday School?
If you struggle to read …..how do you access the word?
As the parent of a child who has profound dyslexia, I live this daily. But what about the 32 million American adults who cannot read? Do they hide it? Just stay home from church? That’s not even taking into account the additional 21% who read below a 5th-grade level.
I don’t have the answers for everything, but I have been on a quest to find the perfect dyslexia-friendly Bible for my 5th-grade son. One day last week, we loaded up in the car and headed down to Lifeway Christian store to scour their shelves.
Here’s what he decided worked best for him, an 11-year-old who has dyslexia:
Before going to Lifeway, I had not heard of the NIrV. I use the NIV myself, but the NIrV is written on a 3rd-grade level. Awesome! I really do think they should consider expanding this into the adult section as well and mark it as “reader-friendly” or something similar (remember all of those adults who read below a 5th-grade level?)
We were pleasantly surprised there was a “large easy to read” distinction on some of the Bibles in the children’s section. Comparing the two, this font was as large as the large print versions in the adult area of the store.
He is a tween, so he didn’t want a “babyish” Bible, nor did he want the “too adult-ish” large print.
One Bible met all of these standards – the Adventure Bible, which you can also find on Amazon. Bonus points – it comes in tween-friendly fun covers that are colorful. We did add a few things to make it even more dyslexia friendly (see below).
Other tools to help:
Dyslexia has nothing to do with vision. It is an unexpected struggle with reading and language despite being intelligent. Still, being able to block off the section he needs to read makes it much less overwhelming. So, we purchased the Bible highlighters that won’t bleed through the pages. We got these.
A magnifier was something I wasn’t sure he’d want, but when I showed it to him he got excited. He says it helps isolate the text which makes it easier to read for him. The one he likes his here.
See the chapter markers on the picture above? Those did not come with the bible, but it helps to quickly find the chapter you are studying. My son opted for a standard print version, which you can find here. We practiced several times after I inserted them. *Note: I highly recommend a grown-up to insert these as they are a little tricky! Read the directions completely.
When my son was in 2nd grade, his teacher gave him a reading tracker. He loves it for school! He doesn’t actually use it on his Bible, but it might help other kids so I thought I would link to it. Like the highlighter and magnifier, it helps to isolate text. We use the ones you can find here.
The Big Test
Will he actually USE these in church? I didn’t really have much of an expectation beyond him finally fitting in with the other kids by carrying his Bible to church. However, I never would have imagined what actually DID happen!
My son who once told me he wished reading was never invented actually VOLUNTEERED to read OUT LOUD in front of his peers in the 5th grade Sunday School class. Woah!
This is *huge.* HUGE.
I still don’t have answers for reading the bulletin or keeping up with singing, but at least we’ve found a way to access the good book. And that’s worth smiling about.
During our journey, we talked to other parents of dyslexic teens and tweens. Some love the app Bible.com because you can adjust the font sizes. Some prefer to read at home using various audiobook versions. Others love the graphic novel Bible, and I actually had an adult with severe dyslexia tell me this version was the first time in her life she was ever able to access the word. We use the graphic novel bible at home often, but he really wanted a more standard version to take to church.
Leave comments below about ways you have found to make your worship, no matter what your faith may be, more dyslexia-friendly.
*This blog contains Amazon affiliated links.