A family affair: book-sharing is for children of all abilities
Shameem Fisher is a teacher with a real love for books. This love is something that she has wished to instill in her son, Seth. When Shameem and Seth joined book-sharing sessions, they found a welcoming and understanding space where Seth was free to be himself. Shameem would like to encourage all parents to start book-sharing, and especially parents of children with disabilities - “book-sharing is for all children”.
The decision to book-share
As a child with autism and who is partially verbal, Seth’s mum was looking for something that they could do together to relax, while also helping with Seth’s learning development. Book-sharing seemed like the ideal activity for this. “I thought this process might help him academically and at school to take more interest in books. Being a teacher, I know how important it is for parents to be a part of their child’s education and development. So I thought if joining this programme can help my son, I will join.”
Shameem and her husband have noticed considerable changes in Seth’s ability to concentrate for longer periods of time and his patience when it comes to book-sharing. “He can recognise things like a ball, a dog, a car, a type of fruit or a kind of animal that is in the book. As he has a sensory disorder too, so he will also try and feel the book.”
Seth’s parents aren’t the only ones that have noticed an improvement. His teacher at school has made comments too - specifically around Seth enjoying story time a lot more. “His teacher actually said he is more chilled”.
A wave of relief
Shameem was feeling slightly apprehensive before the book-sharing session as she was not sure how Seth would react. “I was just worried as he was all over the place, because we usually go to the library and now we were in a new setting and he was wondering why we are here. He only calmed down when we went outside in the garden.” Shameem was concerned as she knew that Seth would come looking for her when the parents were busy with their training and that this might disturb the other parents. Much to her relief, all the other parents and Levina, the facilitator were understanding. “I was grateful for that to a point that I was emotional and thanking God that I don’t have to be in control of everything he does and I can relax here with other parents.”
Through book-sharing, Seth now shares his mom’s love for books. It has allowed Shameem to learn more about what Seth is interested in and she makes sure to get books in relation to his interests. “Our relationship has really grown a lot with me and him both loving books.”
Book-sharing has become a family affair. Seth’s dad has learnt to book-share with him and his cousins join in too when they come to visit. “They love sharing books with him.” In the Fisher household, book-sharing means family time.
“It’s a time for daddy, me and Seth to spend special time away from the television, to learn more words and for him to learn about the world he lives in. This means progress and growth for our little boy.” Shameem really encourages other parents to take up book-sharing with their children, “especially families that have children with disabilities, I encourage them to join the program, as book-sharing is for all children.”