Since the birth of my first son 11 years ago, I have been keenly aware of the benefits of reading to a child. I knew that I wanted to implement reading aloud as part of our everyday routine because the statistics prove that even when newborns are exposed to oral language, it helps them with many different skills later in life.
When our youngest son was diagnosed with autism at two years of age, I was already experiencing the reality of having a child that flat out refused to listen to a story of any kind. I would attempt to read to him from many different angles. I would go as far as joining him inside his netted indoor trampoline as he sought out his sensory input and I would begin to read. He would either pull the book from my hands and try to toss it away, or he would just run away.
Again, I wanted so badly to be able to expose him to words in some way because I knew the proven results from an early literacy standpoint. We already had hurdles to overcome with an underlying apraxia diagnosis. (Apraxia affects his receptive learning and especially his expressive communication skills—making it hard for him to use certain muscles in his body.) That along with other chronic learning disabilities, I was tempted to throw in the towel. However, this was one dream that I was not willing to let go of so easily.
Thankfully, we live during a time of technological boom. Devices that were once out of reach for families have been brought to life for the greater good by minds that function on a similar path as my son’s. There are tablets, apps, programs, and so much more that have given hope to families with children that think differently and take in the world around them in their own unique way.
The VTech Bugsby Reading System came into view when a friend of mine posted an ad on social media. She was selling off some of her children’s items. I saw books, and I was immediately intrigued. When I expanded the ad and read about this system that includes a kid-friendly pen that reads aloud to the child, cartridges that are specific to each book, and options to go at one’s own pace, I knew that this could be our ticket to reading.
My son was engaged from the very first story!
Our first selection was The Little Engine That Could. Of course, it had to be about trains since my five-year-old loves all things trains—animated or not. First, we started reading word by word. I would press the pen down on each one, and he started repeating each sentence as we went along. There are pictures throughout the pages that you can press on, and the little caterpillar pen will make sounds that go along with the story. Soon, I was able to push the button on the book that reads the story straight through. I could stop at any time if he was particularly interested in one page (which happens often) and take time there. It is flexible, and we needed that feature to suit our needs. Now, our Bugsby books are a must for our bedtime routine, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
Even though the item can no longer be found on VTech’s website, there are other purchase options available. Amazon, eBay, or even your local social media yard sale site will give you a variety of price points to fit your budget—new or preowned.
So, if you’re struggling to get your child engaged in reading, I would highly recommend this product. And remember this, you’re a good mom, even when your child struggles with something like reading. Be encouraged!
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