Cultivating the love of reading in a dyslexic child
By Jessica Pag-iwayan
Palanca award winning writer for children short story Cyan Abad-Jugo grew-up seeing her father read. This helped her fall in love with reading and writing at a young age, and played a vital role in shaping the writer she is today.
“I have no idea he was also writing. Wala, quiet lang siya. And then one day, I discovered he also had his own books. I saw his name on the cover and I saw that inside, he had poems dedicated to me, dedicated to my brother,” Abad-Jugo shares with Manila Bulletin. Her father, is no other than Gemino Abad Jr., a three time Palanca award-winning author for poetry (Palanca Awards).
At the age of eight, she already started writing her poems, and later on took AB Literature in Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU). She got her masters degree in Children’s Literature at Simmons College in Boston. “Because I was imitating my dad’s book, I compiled poems in a notebook. Yung kunwari siyang book, you covered it with bond paper, you put a cover,” she says.
The biggest heartbreak
Known for her book Leaf and Shadow: Stories About Some Friendly Creatures, Abad-Jugo also wanted to pass on the love on reading to her own kids. Imagine her distress when her son Colin was diagnosed with Dyslexia. “It was my biggest heartbreak at the start. So my daughter was beginning to read and my son didn’t seem to show signs of reading,” she shares. (Her children Megan and Colin are twins.)
According to Abad-Jugo, at the age of seven, all that Colin could read “was his name and three letter words like ‘cat,’ ‘dog,’ and ‘the.’” To help him, she enrolled Colin in a reading program. As a mother, she admits that she felt how hard it was for her son to go to an extra class after his already long day in school.
“There were worksheets. I would bring him twice a week to this place called Reading Works in Loyola Heights. He had a patient teacher. No matter how tired he was, he would also try his best to keep up with her activities,” she explains.
All of their efforts paid off. By the age of nine, Colin was already reading different serials. “I could cry!” she exclaims. “He’s now 11, he’s done Harry Potter, he’s done Percy Jackson. He collected all the Rick Riordan books!”
To help parents cultivate the love for reading to their children, Abad-Jugo gave some pointers.
- First is to “start with what they love”– “It could be a book of their choice,” she says. “If they love the characters, they’ll keep reading more. And after a while, they somehow fall in love with some kind of a story.”
- Second is to have a reading time – “Set a time. It doesn’t have to be structured,” she explains.
- Last, is to read – “Let your children see that you are reading and enjoying what you read. That solves 10 million problems right away. To see that everyone around you is reading, encourages you also to pick up your own book and read alongside.”
When asked about her thoughts on kids reading in digital platforms, Abad-Jugo encourages the parents that prior on introducing their children to digital form of reading, allow them to “experience the joy” of reading actual books first. She even passionately describes opening the plastic cover of a book to “unwrapping a gift.”
“It’s different when you buy a book. I mean how will you translate pop-up books in digital format? Although I know that digital has moving parts. And there’s no depth perception. How do you know you’re nearing the end of the book? I know that there’s that bar, but you don’t see the number of pages that you still have to go through. The point of having your personal copy, you can make notes, you can write along with the writers, encircle the words you like,” she continues.
Abad-Jugo, who also teaches creative writing, literature, and grade books in ADMU also says that children who read “will never get bored” and they will be “a student forever,” because they learn new things everytime they pick-up a book.
“Read what calls to you, what you like. Read for your heart and for your imagination. And if a book encourages you also to write your own story. Write your own story,” she ends.
Photo taken by Lea M. Arsenal.