A large book lays on the ground in a dark room. There is a staircase that appears in the middle of the cover and a woman is walking into the blue light radiating out of the book.

Pick Any Book: The Realities and Progress of Story Time With My Son

For my baby shower I asked each guest to gift us with their favorite children’s book in lieu of a card. In hindsight that was an excellent idea because we were able to have a full library for our son. During the first few years of his life I enjoyed reading to him daily. He had his favorites that we read multiple times a week. 

It became a struggle to read books to my son

Most of those books were picture books with a few words on the page; the font was easy for me to see, which made it an enjoyable time together. However, once he became a toddler the word count on each page increased and the font size decreased. At that point, it became a struggle to read age-appropriate books to my son. I had so many emotions because I understood how important and valuable reading was for TJ’s development. My mommy guilt was at an all-time high for me. I tried to compensate and use technology. We would participate in virtual storytime, but it just wasn’t the same.

Larger font books were no longer age-appropriate

TJ’s Auntie Caitlin came to visit us for a week. She loves to read and I asked her to read TJ a few age-appropriate books. Every night during her stay, she would read him whatever book he pulled from the bookshelf. Most nights, it was a Disney Collection book and they alternated between Lion King, Little Mermaid, Toy Story, and Aladdin. He was so happy and thoroughly enjoyed storytime before bed with Auntie Caitlin. After she left I would sporadically have storytime with TJ, but I would only pick books that had large font or ones that I remembered. Unfortunately, it became clear that the larger font books were no longer age-appropriate; TJ had memorized them.

"My mommy doesn't read to me because she can't see well."

One day my friend was riding in the car and asked TJ about story time with mommy. He responded by saying, “My mommy doesn’t read to me that much because she can’t see that well." I was devastated and again my mom guilt was turned on high. I felt so bad – it’s not that I didn’t want to read to my son, but rather the fact that it was extremely challenging.

Using a Topaz desktop video monitor

A few months ago my job ordered me a Topaz, which is a desktop video monitor that allows me to magnify pages. Since the pandemic, I have transitioned to remote work and therefore I brought my Topaz home. In full transparency, it has truly been an adjustment working remotely and homeschooling my 5-year-old son. Some days are much easier than others. After one particularly challenging homeschool day, I decided we needed to switch things up. I told my son to pick out whichever book he would like and of course, he picked out the Disney Collection – the very same small-font book he read with his Auntie Caitlin – because it is one of his favorites. I took a deep breath and affirmed myself mentally. I put the book on the Topaz monitor and just like that BOOM! — It magnified to a size that was accessible for me to see and therefore read!

A magnification tool that made storytime possible

I was elated that I was finally able to read my son’s favorite book to him.  After we finished that book, I encouraged him to get another book. We were both ecstatic of being able to again enjoy reading together. Being the “goal-digger” that I am, I told my son that my goal is to read all the books on his bookshelf by the end of this year. He was so happy that we can now do storytime and read any book he picks; I was thrilled that I finally found an accommodation to make it possible to share and create these memories with my son. The interesting part about living with macular degeneration is that I see less and feel more, so the things that I can see mean the world to me... at least that the way eye see it.

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