Topic | Really reluctant Narrator – HELP

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  • MamaWebb

    I have a son who just turned 9. (He is a rather “young” 9 – emotionally.) He is a good reader, but has a tendency to skip or read words wrong and not really care that it doesn’t make sense.  He reads rather quickly, too.  As a side note, I have strong suspicions that he has ADHD like his older brother.  He’s all over the place, and really really really struggles with being attentive to anything.  He howls and whines and cries and has a lot of drama most times when I ask him narrate.

    Because we are moving back to a CM approach next year, I am fully aware that I must help him develop this skill of narration. I have always worked on it with him, though not super consistently, bc he’s always been resistant.

    I have given all of my kids a few books to read over the summer that are just great literature, to practice this skill and practice their reading.  My 9 year old has this terrible tendency to start a book (or task or project or whatever) and not finish it – another hallmark of ADHD.  So I wanted him to work through at least one good chapter book this summer.  We are reading The Trumpet of the Swan.  He is completely unable to narrate a  full chapter, even though they are short.  So we backed up to a page, and that causes him to cry and say, “I don’t know!!”  So now we have backed up to just a paragraph, or maybe two, for narration.  I’ve also been having him read aloud to me because I am realizing that he reads a bit too quickly and makes some careless mistakes. Even with this, he cried and has a fit bc “It’s unfair for me to ask him to narrate!”  He claims he hates reading and hates narration.  Most likely bc it requires sustained mental focus, which is indeed hard for him.

    How can I help him?  It seems to me that many of his issues are related to the ADHD. (I’m most likely having him evaluated this summer.)  And some must be character related. (Always working on this, but also planning on getting LDTR.) But I am just really unsure of how to proceed to best train attentiveness in him and train him in the skill of narration.  Interestingly enough, if I ask him a direct question about the reading, he can answer it. Thoughts?  How to train attentiveness?  How to better help a student like this with narration? Any suggestions for high interest books for young boys?  He’s read some twaddle like Captain Underpants, some Magic Tree House, a few other smaller chapter books like The Light at Tern Rock, George’s Marvelous Medicine, the Boxcar Children.  Any other ideas? Please help. Im so discouraged.




    Hi Amy! Don’t be discouraged! Your son is young yet, and still has plenty of time to develop his narration skills. 🙂

    You’ve done the right thing by backing up to as short of readings as possible. I would continue with very short readings and narrations until that becomes easy before moving onto longer passages.

    My son has ADHD tendencies. However, any student that doesn’t want to apply himself is going to struggle with narration. Answering questions requires much less mental work.

    I think I would just read a small passage, have him narrate, and then stop and do something else for a while. Maybe come back later and read another short passage and do the same a few times a day so that he is not required to narrate, listen to reading, narrate, listen to reading. I would scale the reading way back until he acquires more skill in this area and develops his habit of attention a bit more. I might just read from one book at a time, say 3 short passages broken up through out the day. I wouldn’t try to read a literature book, a history book, a science book right now. It may be overwhelming if he is struggling in this area. Keep on reading just for fun without narrations at bedtime or morning time or whenever but I would keep the school readings to a minimum.

    He’s only 9. He will develop both his habit of attention and his narration abilities and still have plenty of time to read lots of living books in all subject areas.

    Here are some great boy books that my son enjoyed at that age:

    Old Yeller

    Justin Morgan Had a Horse

    Farmer Boy

    My Side of the Mountain

    The Sign of the Beaver

    Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

    Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator

    Mmmm……I’ll try to think of more.



    I’ll try to share more later, but one thought is to give him a name or phrase to listen for in each day’s reading. Write these words on a paper he can see. Ex:

    “Listen to see who Marco Polo is and what adventure he goes on.” is what you might say and “Marco Polo” and “Adventure” would be what you have written on the paper.

    “Today see if you can hear what happened to all the presents in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” is what you would say and “Presents” is what you would write.



    I feel a little more…equipped (I guess that’s the right word) to deal with ME reading aloud and then having my son narrate.

    I guess I am more concerned about his ability to read, either silently or aloud, and be able to narrate.  Does that make sense?  I want him to learn to love reading, but to do it attentively, such that he could tell me what the heck he read about.  I want the books to get in his soul, KWIM?


    Are you sure his reading skills are up to par? If he is struggling with his phonics, it will definitely affect his comprehension. If not, he may just be rushing through his readings. Maybe you could assign him shorter portions for the time being?


    Melanie32 and Tristan,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful replies!

    Yes, Melanie, I’m pretty sure his reading skills are up to par.  That’s why I have been making him read out loud to me, so I could monitor that, just to be sure.  He does quite well.  It really seems that he’s moving too quickly, acting too scattered.  Asking him to read out loud or to read just shorter passages seems to help slow him down and make him pay a bit more attention.

    I will also being trying to get him in for an eye exam because he complains of headaches after reading.  The eye dr gave my older three kids a very mild farsightedness script, and it helps them out.  She said the human eye was never meant to do as much close-up work as we do, and they tire after about 15 minutes of it.  She feels a lot of our eye problems today could be headed off by supporting the eye a bit more.  So all my older three kids have +.5 glasses.  Just for reading and close up work.  Maybe that will help my 9 year old.

    Thank you!


    Hi  MamaWebb,

    Thanks for sharing. I’d think my 7.5 is exactly like this. He skips words and resists narration, but would respond with questions. He wriggles through our school time and gets distracted. But I’ve never associated him with ADHD. I’d like to know the result if you take him to evaluation.

    Thank you!

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