Autism and Reading

I was prompted to find out about autism and it’s impact on children’s reading development when World Autism Awareness Day occurred earlier this month (April 2nd).

Autism is general term used to describe a range of developmental brain disorders. Depending on the severity of it, autism affects a child’s ability to read. There are varying levels to this disorder which would mean that children with autism will have different reading development levels. In many cases actually being able to read is not an issue rather it is the child’s comprehension of what is being read that is the problem.

Based on my readings, here are a few things to keep in mind when teaching autistic children to read:

  • Know what interests your child and use books based on these to attract your child’s interest in books and in listening to stories. It may be animals, foods,  etc.
  • Keep reading sessions short to avoid the child becoming bored, frustrated or impatient.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum and minimise noise levels.
  • Use books with bright colours and clear pictures to aid comprehension (An example is Point to Happy, a book designed specifically for kids on the autism spectrum – see a review of this book here).
  • Books that involve the child in the story (e.g. lift-the-flap, touch and feel) can help a child enjoy the reading experience.
  • Use of games and interactive books on the computer may hold the attention of some autistic children.

Resources  on Autism and Reading:

Kids and Reading: Autism

Resources on Autism and Muslims:

What, if any, has your experience been with a child who has autism learning to read or just interacting with books? I’d love to hear from you.

Three Board Books that will Delight Young Ones! (Book Review)

Recently I reviewed a wonderful book by the company Smart Ark for children ages 4-8 that deals with recycling and our responsibility as Muslims to implement the three R’s. Today I want to take a look at three other books that I received from this company.     

The First Steps series comprises so far Made by Allah: Alphabet Book, Thank you Allah: Counting Book and Prayer Times: Book of Colours. These board books are perfect for introducing basic concepts such as the alphabet letters, colours and numbers as well as for introducing elements of Islam to very young children.     

The books are all made of sturdy recycled board so that they can handle little hands pulling and tugging (and maybe even chewing) them. The illustrations are simple, clear and vibrant. Two of them are written in simple rhyme. Here is a brief look at the books:  
Made by Allah Alphabet Book by Fehmida Ibrahim Shah (Smart Ark)

photo source:


“A is for apple, a healthy treat, Made by Allah, to enjoy and eat.  


B is for boat, that sails on the sea, Which Allah protect, and brings home safely.”     

Made by Allah: Alphabet Book uses each letter of the English alphabet to show children the variety of things Allah has given them; from food, toys, animals and even the day and night. Each letter appears on a page with text in simple rhyme and  an illustration.     


“One golden sun, rising as I say, Thank you Allah, for a beautiful day.     

Two pieces of toast, with strawberry jam, Thank you Allah, how grateful I am.”     

Thank you Allah: Counting Book will help young children learn to count from 1 to 10 while appreciating the many beautiful things Allah has given them. Again the use of simple rhyme and illustrations will capture the attention of young readers and their parents.     

“A Muslim prays five times a day. When we pray we face Mecca in Saudi Arabia….     


When we pray to Allah, we than Him for all the blessings He ahs given us….     

The Fajr prayer starts just before dawn and ends just before sunrise.     

Can you find these colours in the Fajr time picture?     

Blue Pink Beige”     

In Prayer Times: Book of Colours young children are given a very brief (and appropriate for their age) introduction to salah (or prayer) as they attempt to identify the colours in the pictures. The times and names of the five daily prayers are given in this short board book. As they read the book, children are asked to find a particular colour in the picture. In most cases the colours correspond with the colours you would find for that particular time of day (bright colours for the day and darker ones for evening and night). This book does not only introduces the young reader to the primary colours (red, blue, yellow) but to some secondary colours (green, orange, purple) and a wider range too (beige, peach, maroon).   

I think parents and teachers would be delighted to have these board books in their homes and classrooms (preschools) as the books provide young children(ages 2-4) with a wonderful introduction to the English alphabet and numbers and salah. To help young children learn Arabic numbers and alphabet take a look at the posters designed by the company. For more information on these books and other products produced by Smart Ark check out the website

Muslim Nursery Rhymes (Book Review)

Muslim Nursery rhymes
Brightly shining Silver Star,

 Who has made you as you are?  

Sparkling over land and sea,  

High above the highest trees.  

Allah created you and me  

In truth so perfectly.  

– “Silver Star” by Mustafa Yusuf McDermont in Muslim Nursery Rhymes (2002)  

Muslim Nursery Rhymes is a collection of fifteen rhymes for the very young. The rhymes introduce infants and young children to Islam (Allah and salah (prayer) for example) and a Muslim’s way of life (going to masjid and sharing for example).  

There is a lack of Islamic poetry and rhymes for young children in the English-speaking world. Research shows that babies and very young children enjoy the rhythm of rhymes. Muslim Nursery Rhymes has filled a much-needed gap in providing parents and teachers with lovely rhymes based on Islamic themes. These rhymes could be read and sung to babies and young children.  

Bread Man! Bread Man!

 Have you any bread?  

Yes son! Yes son!  

Three rolls of bread;  

One for your family,  

One for the school and  

One for that poor old man  

Who lives with his mule.  

– “Bread Man!, Bread Man!” by Mustafa Yusuf McDermont in Muslim Nursery Rhymes (2002)  

Muslim Nursery Rhymes is based on traditional English rhymes such as ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’, ‘One, Two, Buckle My Shoe’ and ‘Baa, Baa, Black Sheep’. It does not matter if one is unfamiliar with these rhymes since they can be read aloud or chanted with almost equal appeal to babies and young children. 

Title: Muslim Nursery Rhymes 

Author: Mustafa Yusuf McDermont 

Illustrator: Terry Norridge-Austen  

Publisher: The Islamic Foundation  

Date: 2002  

ISBN: 0860373428  

No. of pages: 29 pages  

Age Group: 0 – 4 (Read aloud); 4 – 6 (Read on own)  

Literacy Lava (Magazine Review)

There is much information and resources available on the topic of literacy. Recently, however, I found a wonderful ezine (electronic magazine) called Literacy Lava. It is geared toward parents and is filled with creative and insightful ideas and activities for supporting children’s reading, writing and communication. 

Cover of Literacy Lava, Issue 4, an ezine with reading and literacy articles and activities

This month’s issue covers topics such as tips on encouraging writing, boys who love to read, themed baskets for learning and how to nurture creative thinking.  The varied activities can easily be done at home with parent and child. Past issues covered topics such as motivating reluctant readers, importance of reading aloud and linking math and literacy. 

Literacy Lava is put together by a team of teachers, writers and literacy advocates. Their philosophy include among others: to help children to read so that they can read to learn, modeling reading and writing in daily life, and to read to children everyday. 

You can download your own free copy of this month’s issue of Literacy Lava (and the past three issues as well) here.