If your child resists being read to or resists reading certain picture books, it could be the pictures themselves that discourage reading.
Picture books with detailed backgrounds or with copious patterns can turn off children with sensory integration issues. Such children have difficulty focusing if there is too much pattern, noise, motion, or texture in any experience. They prefer plain painted walls and plain bedspreads, not papered walls and patterned bedding; low, instrumental music by a single instrument, not loud music or music with lyrics; sitting or standing still, not rocking or dancing; and loose knit clothing, not clothes with tags or clothes that are tight-fitting.
When you choose books for children who show sensory integration issues, search for picture books with these characteristics:
- Pictures with no backgrounds, or just the hint of background—a wash of green to represent grass and trees, for example, or one or two birds in the sky, not a whole flock.
- Characters dressed in solid colors without shading or patterns in their clothes. If you have seen Pippa the Pig books or cartoons, with their simplistic images, that is the kind you want to show your child.
- Pictures using flat shapes and limited colors, the kind that children themselves produce. (Think of the way Peanuts cartoon characters are presented—Charlie Brown with his round head and Lucy with her dress of a single color.)
- Pictures focusing on one or two characters, not groups. Look for pared down, minimalist images which have removed everything but the essential elements.
Likewise, when you look for picture books for children with sensory integration issues to write about, search for picture books with the same features. Some wordless picture books offer these kinds of pictures, but not all do.
Finding such books in your library or book store is not easy. A section labeled “simplistic art” doesn’t exist. I have had to scour shelves to find what I am looking for. But the search is worth it to entice a reluctant child reader or writer.
Next blog: Names of some books that might appeal to kids showing sensory integration issues.