Dyslexia Empowerment Week

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Dyslexia Empowerment WeekNext week is Dyslexia Empowerment Week Australia-wide, and it’s something we always join in with at school.  Now in it’s fourth year, this national event has been created  to increase awareness of dyslexia in support of the estimated 10-20% members of our community that are dyslexic.  I love this classroom activity suggestion from the official site for the week:

Have a class discussion, or create an assignment which debunks the many myths surrounding dyslexia, such as:

  1. There is no one in our school with dyslexia

  2. Only boys have dyslexia

  3. Smart people can’t have dyslexia

  4. People with dyslexia read backwards: or swapping b’s and d’s that’s all

  5. People with dyslexia will never improve so there is nothing my school can do to help.dew2

Last year, to celebrate Dyslexia Empowerment Week, I posted a list of books that I have found reluncant readers have loved – especially graphic novels…my favourites of which can be found here. The visuals support students to comprehend the text and graphic novels are just all round fabulous things really – for all readers. This year I thought I’d post some books which feature young people with dyslexia and/or children who experience some challenges learning to read. My favourites are below and you can add these to your home or school library by clicking on the covers or title links.

It would be fabulous if all school libraries across the country whipped up a display for Dyslexia Empowerment Week. It is so important that school libraries make readers of all stages, ages and persuasions to feel welcomed, supported and catered for. We are in the business of customer service as school library staff and I spend far too much time worrying that we don’t reach out to every single student in our schools. The ‘library kids’, the ones in our spaces day-in, day-out  (who I adore and was one of!) are not the ones we need to work extra hard to cater for; it is the ones who feel that the library isn’t ‘for them’ that we should be working to welcome.

Here endeth the rant.

bookshop-boy-014The boy with the words stuck in his head. Image Credit: Tom McLaughlin

‘The Story Machine’ 

A story about the power of drawing and story telling. Elliott is a boy who likes to find things and, one day, he stumbles across a machine. At first, he can’t work out what the machine is for – it doesn’t beep or buzz like all his other machines and it doesn’t have an ON/OFF button. Then, quite by accident, Elliott makes the machine work. The machine makes letters! Elliott thinks it must be a story machine but, sadly, Elliott isn’t very good at letters and words. How can he make magical stories without them? But, wait, some of the letters look like pictures. Elliott is good at pictures and, as he discovers, pictures make stories.

I love Tom McLaughlin books and his article, ‘A dyslexic author’s writing tips for dyslexic kids’ is darned wonderful.

‘Thank you, Mr Falker’

Patricia Polacco’s bestselling book – with over 400,000 copies sold – ‘Thank You, Mr. Falker’ celebrates what a good teacher can be. And now her heartwarming tribute to the teacher who changed her life is available in a special unjacketed mini edition that makes the perfect gift for both kids needing encouragement and the teachers who are their heroes. When Trisha starts school, she can’t wait to learn how to read, but the letters just get jumbled up. She hates being different, and begins to believe her classmates when they call her a dummy. Then, in fifth grade, Mr. Falker changes everything. He sees through her sadness to the gifted artist she really is. And when he discovers that she can’t read, he helps her prove to herself that she can – and will!

‘The Alphabet War’

When Adam started kindergarten, the teacher wanted him to learn about letters. But p looked like q, and b looked like d. Adam would rather color or mold clay. In first grade, his teacher wanted him to put the letters into words so he could read. That was the beginning of the Alphabet War. Was looked like saw, and there looked like then. Almost everyone else in his class was learning to read, but Adam was fighting a war against letters. In second grade, he had to learn to spell, which was also impossible. Now he was so frustrated he got into trouble and had to go to the principal’s office. At last, in third grade, he got the right kind of help. Slowly he began to do better. During fourth grade, he learned that he was smart in other things. That gave him the confidence to take chances with reading. One day he found himself reading a book all by himself!

‘Fish in a Tree’ 

A New York Times Bestseller. The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn t fit in. Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid. Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there s a lot more to her and to everyone than a label, and that great minds don t always think alike.”

‘Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief’

From Rick Riordan’s blog: Before I wrote ‘The Lightning Thief’, my son Haley was struggling in second grade, or Year 3. It turned out he was dyslexic and ADHD. These learning disabilities, by the way, are also a frontier, a way of seeing from the edge. ADHD and dyslexic people are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. They cannot do things traditionally, so they learn to improvise. Percy Jackson was a myth to help him make sense of who he is. Mythology is a way of explaining something that can’t be explained, except by allegory, and my son’s struggle in school definitely applied. He completely bought in to the idea that ADHD/dyslexia, taken together, was an almost sure sign that you have Olympian blood.

‘Hudson Hates School’

After another horrible day Hudson declares he will never go back to school. Hudson is good at a lot of things, but spelling isn’t one of them. In fact, having to do spelling tests is one of the many things he HATES about school. After another horrible day Hudson declares he will never go back to school. But one final very different test helps Hudson understand why he is special… And how he can learn to learn!

‘It’s Called Dyslexia’ 

Whoever said that learning to read and write is easy? Sarah is unhappy and she no longer enjoys school. When learning to read and write, she tries to remember which way the letters go but she often gets them all mixed up. After she discovers that dyslexia is the reason for her trouble, she begins to understand that with extra practice and help from others, she will begin to read and write correctly. At the same time, she also discovers a hidden talent she never knew existed!

‘Close to Famous’ 

When twelve-year-old Foster and her mother land in the tiny town of Culpepper, they don’t know what to expect. But folks quickly warm to the woman with the great voice and the girl who can bake like nobody’s business. Soon Foster – who dreams of having her own cooking show one day – lands herself a gig baking for the local coffee shop, and gets herself some much-needed help in overcoming her biggest challenge – learning to read . . . just as Foster and Mama start to feel at ease, their past catches up to them. Thanks to the folks in Culpepper, though Foster and her mama find the strength to put their troubles behind them for good.

‘Back to Front and Upside Down’

It’s the principal Mr. Slipper’s birthday, and while the rest of the class gets busy writing cards for the occasion, Stan becomes frustrated when his letters come out all in a muddle. Stan is afraid to ask for help, until a friend assures him that nobody’s good at everything. And after lots and lots of practice, Stan’s letters come out the right way round and the right way up.

‘I Spy a Great Reader’

ne of my ALL-TIME favourite authors is Jackie French. Guess what?! She’s dyslexic! This is what she has to say:

I’m dyslexic. Even today, 115 books published, a couple of million copies and about 25 literary awards later, I find it difficult to focus on single words.

I can print okay – and I’m a fast typist. But my spelling is appalling. Arithmetic is a nightmare. And when I write longhand, sometimes it’s as though the instruction in my brain doesn’t reach my hands, and the words turn into straggly lines. When I’m really tired I can’t even sign my own name. Read the whole article here.

Jackie French is an INSPIRATION and she shares her love of words with people all around the world. Her book ‘I Spy a Great Reader’ is just fabulous and has so many tips for parents and teachers. Drawing on her own experience with dyslexia, Jackie has written this book to help parents identify the possible reading difficulties their children may have. All children learn differently, and Jackie offers many fun and rewarding ways to help launch your child into literacy. These include games for coordination, concentration and focus as well as helpful steps to kickstart your child into reading and to foster a life-long love of books. I Spy a Great Reader is filled with a wealth of advice, anecdotes and activities – it’s a book every parent and teacher should own.

For more suggestions see:Graphic Novels

Graphic comic books are fast paced with lots of illustrations to support the reading of the text. Some of my all-time favourites for ALL ages are here.

The beautiful Coco Banjo here is a great book to engage young female readers. Lots of illustrations to support the text. Humour and wit wrapped up in a package lovely by Nikki Gemmell.

Andy Griffiths, with his humour and supported by Terry Denton’s illustrations are simply the greatest for readers who need FUN. See them here. 

‘My Life and Other Mistakes’ seen here is a great series low on text but heavy on humour and REALLY well written.

For more books which are FULL of humour (which always helps with a willingness to engage with reading!) see here.

Audio books are another great option and I have many posts on the power of these, and suggestions here, here and here.

The ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series here are fast paced and not text heavy.Dyslexia Empowerment Week

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The titles of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is fantastic, thank you. My 9 year old daughter is dyslexic and is slowly becoming a reader. She’s into all the 13 Storey Treehouse books at the moment. I will get her some of the books you have recommended and the Jackie French one for me. (Also sharing the link in my newsletter this week!).

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