Tips on Facilitating Book Reading with Your Child with ADHD

ADHDFor this month of Research Tuesday, I wanted to share an article about ADHD and reading aloud. Many people assume that when you have ADHD, you have trouble paying attention to most or all activities, but that is simply not true. Many children with ADHD can focus very well on specific activities, especially when it’s a high-interest activity, such as a motivating book! What makes a story motivating? A story that a child can relate to can make a book meaningful and motivating. I found an excellent article titled Learning from Picture Book Characters in Readaloud Sessions for Students with ADHD by Debby M. Zambo. Debby M. Zambo is a former elementary school teachers for children with special needs. Within the article, she “provides a strategy to help elementary students with ADHD understand themselves, and their behaviors through picture book characters in read aloud sessions (Zambo, 2006)” . Debby Zambo wanted to use picture books to help children with ADHD identify with a particular character and, as a result, build their self-esteem. Why does a child with ADHD need help in improving their self-esteem? Debbie Zambo (2006) discusses how many children with ADHD can feel isolated, hurt and rejected from their peers due to their hyperactivity and impulsiveness. The author provides a strong rationale, and titles of books that can be used within your classroom or a home environment.

Here are some tips from Debby M. Zambo (2006) about reading books within her classroom of children with attention issues. These tips can easily be used within your home such as reading during mealtime since it’s a routine, short in duration and in a quiet area.

1. Read aloud should be short in duration (15-20 minutes)

2. Have a routine

3. Occurs in the same physical space.

4. Takes place just before a transition

5. Takes place in a quiet area with sufficient comfortable seating

6. Read with expression (see my post about reading with expression here)

Elementary Pupil Reading With Teacher In Classroom

Debbie Zambo discusses the importance of using models to learn. What does this have to do with reading aloud? Read books that your child with ADHD can relate to! If your child can relate to the character, than he or she can learn how to deal with a particular situation in a better way. This is also a great strategy for a parent to help a child work through a particular issue. For example, the author discusses using David Goes to School by David Shannon to help children with ADHD understand the consequences of specific behaviors in school.

helpful tipsHere are some tips that Debby Zambo provides before reading, during reading and for after reading the book. Please note that I have slightly modified these tips. To see the complete list, see the link to the article below in the resource:

Before Reading:

1. Understand the child’s strengths and weaknesses.

2. Identify an issue of interest or important to you or your child with ADHD (this can be if your child has trouble sitting in class still, paying attention to lessons, etc)

3. Select a book with a character experiencing the same issues and concerns. For example, if your child is having trouble getting along with their teacher due to their fidgeting, read “Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have The Wiggle Fidgets”

During Reading:

1. Provide prompts to stay on task (this can be verbal reminders or a visual reminder)

2. Discuss prior knowledge of book reading and use language and learning strategies. Click here for more strategies in retelling a story.

3. Give positive reinforcement

4. Discuss the character and their challenges

After Reading:

1. Discuss the book and their feelings about it

2. Reread the book

3. Do carryover activities so they can practice the skills


Practice these skills at home! You can easily follow these same tips whether you have a classroom of students or your own child at home. 


Books Used in Learning from picture book characters in readaloud sessions for students with ADHD

Eddie Enough by Debbie Zimmett

Pay Attention, Slosh! by Mark Smith

Waiting for Mr. Goose by Laurie Lears

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester

Today was a Terrible Day by Patricia Riley

Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patrician Polacco

Click here to see the full list.


Here are some of my recommendations:

1. Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets

2. David Gets in Trouble

3. The Worst Day of My Life Ever


Zambo, D.M. (2006). Learning from picture book characters in readaloud sessions for students with ADHD. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 2(4) Article 4. Retrieved [date] from


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