Dyslexia-Friendly Books for Children

 

dyslexia-friendly-books

What is a dyslexia friendly book and what makes it different to a standard book?

Previously I wrote a blog called The Dancing Book to try and understand what it’s like to read with dyslexia and the types of difficulties readers with dyslexia face . In particular I highlighted the blurred, river or washed out effects. Today my blog is more about finding the right book to reignite a love of reading despite the challenges they face. Book publishers of dyslexia friendly books go to great lengths to consider how they can assist the reader to overcome their frustrations and some of the necessary adjustments may surprise you. Here are a few differences to keep an eye out for when picking up a book for your child in the library or a bookshop.

  • Tinted or cream paper can help reduce the visual distortion experienced, in particular the blurring effect.
  • Simplified font with less hooks or tails can help the reader distinguish between upper and lower case characters more easily for example.
  • Increased character spacing is used to try and reduce the blurring effect.
  • No right hand justification as it can cause uneven spacing between words and letters whereas left hand justification can reduce the spaced out river effect experienced.
  • Thicker paper stock to make sure any words on the other pages don’t bleed through to the next and cause confusion.
  • Special editing procedures to give consideration to spacing and rhyming for example and how they affect readability; avoiding double spacing after full stops to reduce the river effect or using bold text opposed to highlighted text.
  • Shorter extents (e.g. paragraphs and chapters) to provide more breaks.
  • Clear layout to ensure the text is not spun around an illustration making it difficult to follow for example.

In recognition of Dyslexia Awareness Week (3-9 Oct 2016) I’ve put together a suggestion of dyslexia friendly books by some of our well known and best loved children’s authors for various age groups. All these books are published by Barrington Stoke Ltd who specialise in books for children with dyslexia.

PICTURE BOOKS


We are not Frogs by Micheal Morpurgo (author) and Sam Usher (illustrator). Published: Feb 2016.

Jumping with frogs, toads and counting activities. Help them leap out of the ice cream tub and find their way back home.

CLICK HERE TO BUY We are Not Frogs (Picture Squirrel)


Wolfman by Micheal Rosen (author) and Chris Mould (illustrator). Published: Jun 2014.

Wolfman is in a rage and soon stirs up trouble in town. Everyone wants to run away but who will be brave enough to speak to him and ask if they can help?

CLICK HERE TO BUY Wolfman


The Gingerbread Star by Anne Fine (author) and Vicki Gausden (illustrator). Published: Jul 2015.

Hetty the earthworm goes in search of her dream to find her true glow.

CLICK HERE TO BUY The Gingerbread Star (Little Gems)


Blamehounds by Ross Collins (author/illustrator). Published: Apr 2014.

A story of some brave canines taking the blame for the world’s mistakes.

 

CLICK HERE TO BUY Blamehounds (Little Gems)

 

 

AGE 5+


A Twist of Tales by Julia Donaldson (author) and Peter Bailey (illustrator). Published: Sept 2016.

A collection of stories from a dreadful secret to a magnificent dream.

CLICK HERE TO BUY A Twist of Tales (Little Gems)


Mary’s Hair by Eoin Colfer (author) and Richard Watson (illustrator). Published: Jul 2015.

When Mary decides she loathes her big, curly hair there’s only one thing she can do – chop it all off. An hilarious tale of mishaps and challenges.

CLICK HERE TO BUY Mary’s Hair (Little Gems)


Moonshine Dragon by Cornelia Funke (author) and Monika Armino (illustrator). Published: Sept 2016.

When Patrick’s book comes to life he finds himself entangled in a battle between a tiny dragon and a tiny knight. Can he escape alive?

CLICK HERE TO BUY The Moonshine Dragon (Little Gems)


Grandpa was an Astronaut by Jonathan Meres (author) and Hannah Coulson (illustrator). Published: Aug 2016.

Space games with Grandpa takes Sherman on the most imaginative galactic adventures he’s ever seen.

CLICK HERE TO BUY Grandpa was an Astronaut (Little Gems)

 

AGE 7+


If Only we had a Helicopter by Roger Mcgough (author) and Michael Broad (illustrator). Published: Sept 2015.

Another book in the Midge & co. series bursting with mad, hair raising adventures with the boys and a new dog.

CLICK HERE TO BUY If Only We Had a Helicopter (4u2read)


Ghost for Sale by Terry Deary (author) and Stefano Tambellini (illustrator). Published: Nov 2015.

When Mr and Mrs Rundle decided a haunted wardrobe was an excellent selling point for their inn it turns out they get a little more than a few extra visitors.

CLICK HERE TO BUY Ghost for Sale (4u2read)


Going Batty by John Agard (author) and Michael Broad (illustrator). Published: Feb 2016.

For someone afraid of Bats Shona has a shock when she’s asked to do a bat project at school and worse still the little creatures turn up in her attic.

CLICK HERE TO BUY Going Batty (reluctant reader) (4u2read)


The Unlikely Outlaws by Philip Ardagh (author) and Tom Morgan-Jones (illustrator). Published: Mar 2015.

The adventures of Tom Dashwood a knight in training with his outlaws will keep you entertained with his funny and sometimes disastrous escapades.

CLICK HERE TO BUY The Unlikely Outlaws

 

AGE 9+


Mind Writer by Steve Cole (author) and Nelson Evergreen (illustrator). Published: Jul 2016.

Luke can hear people’s thoughts and has endless fun with it in class. However when Samira joins his school he soon finds out she can do something far more sinister. She can change people’s thoughts and together they could make a powerful team.

CLICK HERE TO BUY Mind Writer


The Story of Matthew Buzzington by Andy Stanton (author) and Ross Collins (illustrator). Published: Jul 2014.

Matthew Buzzington knows he can change into a fly but hasn’t quite figured out how to do it yet. A book brimming with Andy Stanton’s crazy humour.

CLICK HERE TO BUY The Story of Matthew Buzzington


Contact by Malorie Blackman (author) and Paul Fisher (illustrator). Published: Apr 2015.

Set in the future where no physical contact is allowed this book explores trust, teamwork and what makes us human.

CLICK HERE TO BUY Contact (reluctant reader) (4u2read)


The Genius Aged 8  ¼ by Jeremy Strong (author) and Jamie Smith (illustrator). Published: Sept 2016.

When all adults around are a disaster, there’s Alfie Poppleton.

CLICK HERE TO BUY
The Genius Aged 8 1/4 (Little Gems)

#BFCB #BooksForChildrenBlog

@lonerganbooks

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

Discovering our World in Picture Books PART 1: The Story of Life by Catherine Barr and Steve Williams

I’m excited about these next books I’ve got lined up to review as this time I’ve chosen something a little different. I always say that variety is the best solution to maintain a little one’s interest in reading so I thought I’d take a look at some of the amazing non-fiction picture books currently on the market which help children to understand our natural world. So what better place to start than at the beginning with evolution.

Evolution

Sitting here at my writing desk, surrounded by objects, tools and inventions, a clutter of non living things, it’s hard to imagine where it all began. It feels like the real world has been displaced and thrown off wack somehow as floors, doors and walls detach me from true life. For me evolution is the miracle of how things change, how things progress, how each individual living cell effects another, how something small can become a part of something incredible and that all of us are an integral catalyst of this cycle on earth.

Book Review on The Story of Life by author/s Catherine Barr & Steve Williams.

The Story of Life

What’s it all about?

The Story of Life is a clear, structured book which depicts the stages of evolution amid a fun and lighthearted tone. We follow the timeline from basic cells to life as we know it today. It touches on how all living things are a part of the evolution process and that it’s the development of new behaviours, abilities and changes within the natural habitat which triggers the next cycle. At each stage this book discusses why or how animals died out in the past and ultimately what is causing extinction now? If your child is curious about life on earth this book gives a clear indication of the fascinating historical chain of events and the glossary of useful words at the back of this book supports their understanding.

Which age group is it aimed at?

I found this book to have a fairly wide age appeal. A child of five years could easily grasp the basics and enjoy the pictures whilst a ten year old would appreciate the greater detail and interesting facts presented as an easy to understand timeline of the events.

Conclusion

Remarkably, this book splits a complex topic into manageable bite sized chunks with complimentary illustrations for each factual piece of information. The illustrations feel fun and make you smile but still manage to convey the right tone for each era. An excellent book for triggering discussion although probably not intended to be read in one sitting as there’s a lot of information to absorb.

Author/s: Catherine Barr & Steve Williams

Illustrator: Amy Husband

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, Mar 2015

Our Rating: 5/5


CLICK TO BUY The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

Source: Own copy

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@lonerganbooks

Imagine an Illiterate Life

Asian Girl Reading a Book

Being illiterate must be like living a life without any written instruction manuals, those we fondly refer to as books, newspapers, magazines, leaflets, letters, posters, signs and computers which are all packed with opinions, ideas and influences. Perhaps if we were illiterate these would all become lifeless objects and reading would be replaced with personal experience through the people we meet and talk to, everyday events we come into contact with and what we feel as a consequence.

Perhaps we’d begin to see an object for what it is or what we think it is with no added story attached. For example a plastic bag without the warning comment, bottled water with no indication of its origin or a board game without instructions. We would instinctively give each object our own meaning. Hence why a cardboard box becomes a toy for a toddler, a small toy becomes something to eat and an avocado something they start to play with and squash in their hands.

Being unable to read wouldn’t prevent us from communicating. Before speech and language was created early man used pictorial images and actions to communicate. An illiterate world would remain as we see it and not as other people know it. Our views would not be marred by millions of other people’s interpretations and our perspectives would purely be gained from our own direct experiences. There would be no additional knowledge, alternative opinion or challenging perspective beyond that of our immediate environment. It almost sounds quite refreshing to live in a world without conflicting distractions; a world which encourages you to concentrate on what is happening around you and to focus on the present moment.

However our world is no longer like this, we are natural creators and technological advancements and inventions have changed our world. Our world has grown exponentially and continues to grow on a daily basis. As reading and writing developed, messages, knowledge and memories were shared. They were depicted on walls, slate then paper and passed on through the generations. Yet even up to this point communication was confined to the small space we lived in. Humans had no way of knowing what was happening on the other side of the world and even if there was another side to it. There was no means of getting any written communication across the seas until a means of travel was invented, then a worldwide postal system was put in place and more recently the internet was born.

Reading expands our lives. Reading brings everyone in our world closer together. It connects us with people we may never meet. It shows us that what we alone experience is never the whole story. It teases us with something different, it dangles the idea of infinite possibility in front of our eyes. Our universe just got bigger. Which life would you want to lead?

Despite such changes even today a significant percentage of our population in England are what we refer to as functionally literate adults. As parents we have the power to ensure that child is not ours.  If we encourage our children to read it’s like removing the limitations of where they were born or to whom they were born to and giving them the opportunity to become a part of something much bigger.

#BFCB #BooksForChildrenBlog

@lonerganbooks

Books for Tweens Age 8-12

Books for Tween 8-12

As my children get older, my knowledge of children’s books expands. My eldest complained I rarely review his books so this week I’ve pulled together some of his latest reads, ideal for Summer reading. All these books come under the category known as middle grade. They’re for children who are confident at reading and keen to explore lengthy illustrated chapter books. Any of these could appeal to boys or girls.


Skellig by David Almond. Published: Hodder Children’s Books, Sept 2013.

A curious, timid character with his odd ways enters the lives of Michael and Mina and becomes their special secret in the shed. A heart-warming and original story of friendship and understanding difference. The very short chapters make this an easy one to read at bedtime.

LENGTH: 46 chapters.

CLICK TO BUY Skellig


The World of Norm, May Contain Nuts by Jonathan Meres. Published: Orchard Books, Sept 2011.

The first in a series of books following the amusing mishaps of everyday life with Norm. His life is turned upside down when he and his family move house. Norm doesn’t mean to get into trouble but things just keep happening around him. A witty, laugh out loud book about family life.

LENGTH: 27 chapters.

CLICK TO BUY The World of Norm: 1: May Contain Nuts


The Accidental Prime Minister by Tom McLaughlin. Published: OUP Oxford, Apr 2015.

Joe was just expressing his opinion when suddenly he finds himself in the position of prime minister. Joe wastes no time settling in and bringing in new laws and instructing everyone to lighten up and have fun. An entertaining read showing life is what you make of it.

LENGTH: 19 chapters.

CLICK TO BUY The Accidental Prime Minister


My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons. Published: Nosy Crow Ltd, Jul 2015.

You never know what you might miss when you nip off for a wee! That’s exactly what happened to Zack. When Zack returns he discovers his little brother Luke has been given superpowers and told to go and save two universes. How’s his little brother going to manage? Zack decides he will need some help. Every chapter will make you laugh.

LENGTH: 35 chapters.

CLICK TO BUY My Brother is a Superhero


Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka (author) & Brian Biggs (illustrator). Published: Amulet Books 1st ed. Sept 2014.

Science has suddenly got funnier. This highly illustrated middle grade book is genius in many ways and it’s futile to resist reading it in the robot voices. Frank Einstein has grand plans to win the Midville Science Prize with his friend Watson and the straight talking self-assembled robots Klink and Klank. However it’s not as easy as Frank first thinks once his arch rival T. Edison decides to enter it too.

LENGTH: 22 chapters.

 

CLICK TO BUY Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor


The Person Controller by David Baddiel (author) & Jim Field (illustrator). Published: Harper Collins Children’s Books, Feb 2016.

If you think video games are fun, your eyes will light up at the idea of this humorous story as it sends your imagination in a spin. What would you do with the person controller? Twins, Fred and Ellie can’t believe their luck, now they can make anything happen but perhaps all isn’t as rosy as it first seems. The story is split into four parts and interspersed with illustrations to break up the reading. Engaging from start to finish.

LENGTH: 57 chapters (4 parts).

CLICK TO BUY The Person Controller

Keep watching as I’ll be reviewing some more middle grade books soon.

Source: Own or library copies.

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

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@lonerganbooks

Book Review: There’s a Lion in my Cornflakes by Michelle Robinson

There's a Lion in my Cornflakes

Synopsis: Eric and Dan collect one hundred coupons, just like it says on their their cereal packet, to be exchanged for a real pet lion. It sounds straight forward enough. Only pet lions seem to be very popular of late so they don’t quite get what they’d hoped for. It begins to look like a complete disaster … or is it?

Conclusion: This book will get both you and your children giggling. A funny, contemporary story with illustrations to match. Still a firm favourite of ours. Forget saving up for books, posters or cuddly toys. The stakes have just got higher!

Book Genre: Picture Book

Recommended Age Range: 2-6 years.

Author: Michelle Robinson

Illustrator: Jim Field

Published: Bloomsbury Children’s July 2014

Source: Own copy

Rating: 5/5

CLICK TO BUY There’s a Lion in My Cornflakes

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

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@lonerganbooks

Playing by the Book

Are you genuinely allowing your child to learn through play?

Throughout my blogs I like to suggest activities for parents to try in order to help them show their children how books and reading can be fun. Remember that little word show that I used.

I took some time the other day to peruse some of the many colourful blogs which light up my WordPress feed when one particular one held my attention.

Its title was Why I Don’t Like Play Based Learning posted by Happiness is Here.

It was a bold statement. It was intriguing. I thought the blog was honest, well written and challenging. I loved it.

However they cited an activity designed to encourage reading so I felt I needed to respond.

I couldn’t argue the sentiment; the article was spot on when it pointed out that the popular so called play based learning is usually led by adults and not children. Yet above all it was the fact that the word play was being used to describe adult led activities which had initiated the writer’s concern. This made me question some things. Are there set rules for what play is or isn’t? Can’t play be anything that the participant finds enjoyable? If so, if the child is a willing participant in an adult led activity and enjoys it, is that not considered a form of playing? Is it true that play by definition can never be directed and where does that leave me and my fun book related activities? I think I may be guilty of using the phrase learning through play from time to time.

My understanding of the article was that they too feel that, what I call fun learning activities have their place but they also made the valid point that a distinction should be made between whether the activities are child led or adult led. Child led play is an entertaining and enjoyable way in which the child chooses to occupy themselves opposed to a planned activity an adult has instructed them to do. The difference is that there’s an intention or ultimate goal behind the playful and fun activity created by the adult whereas child led play has no expectations or set path; it’s about learning through exploration and it hasn’t been pre-planned; there’s no wrong of right way to play, it’s the result of a child responding to their immediate environment.

So why is this free unstructured play so important and how can it be incorporated into encouraging reading?

More and more parents want to teach their children how to question and think for themselves and for me reading is one such powerful tool which can enable this process of brain development to bloom naturally. Ironically what some people aren’t aware of is that one of the best ways to help children think for themselves is to leave them to do as they please and omit all the good intentioned controlling measures, expectations and structures the adult has planned.

Play Drawing on Books

To implement child led story making and reading activities this would involve leaving your child in a safe environment which includes piles of assorted books on a blanket, magazines positioned in various places within the immediate area as well as a choice of other objects, toys and activities made available. No instructions should be provided except to make sure the child is aware that you’re there if they need you and that they can do whatever they like as long as it’s enjoyable to them and not harmful to themselves or others. Although the books are the main focus, it’s important that there are alternative options to books. This can be magnetic letters, posters, puppets, toy animals, paper and pencils etc to encourage imaginary or role play. The idea is that you’re making the tools available but the choice of how, what and for how long they use them for is up to them.

Play Standing on Books

This will be a difficult concept for many of you to grasp as it means letting go of some deeply ingrained social expectations. Why? Because the results could be anything ranging from the child conventionally reading or looking through the books, completely ignoring the books and pursuing another activity, building book towers, playing shops or schools with the books, bending the books to scribbling on the books and cutting out the pictures and sticking them on their bedroom walls (gasp). Some would call this unruly, irresponsible or even lazy parenting as for many it’s a giant leap away from the controlling, structured and over protective world we live in.

Play Sleeping and Sitting on Books

So how does this approach benefit the child? If you can manage to resist interfering, make no judgements and keep calm at the results your child will have achieved an independent new understanding of the world, through trial and error where their actions have come from a sheer desire or curiosity to learn and discover. A room filled with books and other activities where they’re given free reign takes the fear out of having to read so by leaving them to their own devices they no longer feel threatened by the expectation to read and soon find the fun in books and the chances are that their natural curiosity will take over and lead them to pick up a book one day and want to work out what the words mean.

Play Books on Your Head

For me the title play based learning suggests learning which incorporates the concepts of play into the foundations of the activity so I don’t see an issue with using the word play as such as it’s not actually defining play itself. I do on the other hand think we should be more mindful that as important as these fun learning activities are they are still showing or even dictating to your child what and how to do something. So if I were to label it, perhaps I would call it directed or guided play learning or if you really wanted to omit the word play, directed fun learning. If you want a child to learn for themselves, provide the tools and the environment and then just let them be, it’s as easy as that. The hardest part will be letting go of your control because if you’re governed by time or you’re seeking a certain result which you perceive to be right then child led play isn’t the approach for you. Although if you do try it, you might find it’s not just your child who feels liberated.

To learn more the following blog I found provides an excellent explanation of child-led play: The Adult Role in Child-led Play – How to Become a Learning Ally by Nature Play.

World Book Day 2016

A Book in the Home

Welcome to World Book Day, the day when a fantastical array of characters set off for school across the world. I dropped off Harry Potter (books by J. K. Rowling) and Claude with his faithful friend Sir Bobblysock (books by Alex T. Smith) this morning and after the previous day’s mad scramble around the shops I welcomed a huge sigh of relief that I’d actually managed to pull the costumes together in time.

It was hard to ignore the new found murmur of excitement in the playground this morning. World Book Day had evidently lifted the fun factor of school a notch or two. I saw big smiles as each child took on the role of their favourite children’s book characters with hidden thespian confidence. Dressing up is a fun way to engage children with books but what do children really think about books? What do books mean to them?

For World Book Day I wanted to try and capture a small insight into how books have impacted on some children’s lives so I decided to ask around and do a quick investigation to test the water. The question I asked the children was :-

“What do books mean to you? For example this can be a feeling, a place or time that you link with books.”

All the responses are from children aged 12 and under. I have to admit I was expecting some negative or indifferent comments interspersed between the positive ones so I wasn’t one hundred percent sure where this blog would take me before I got some answers. It turned out that books are pretty popular (in case you hadn’t noticed). Some of the answers are a little random as you may expect from children but overall it emerged that most of the children associate books with bedtime, their favourite books and a happy time. I thought these results deserved being made into this A4 poster as a nice addition to any reading nook.

Book Poster

Feel free to copy and paste to print out.