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

 

 

 

Advertisements

Child Authors: Learning from Children

Express Yourself Through Writing

Lately, my eldest has been devouring books like a caterpillar expecting an immanent leaf shortage. So much so that despite his shelves being laden with books his hunger for new, uncharted territory is proving hard to keep up with. With our library being a decent drive away and not wanting to rush out and buy new ones each time, I had a brain wave (they may be scarce but they do happen!). I remembered that my husband had read a fantasy fiction book called Eragon a few years back by the author Christopher Paolini who was fifteen years old when he wrote it. I thought perhaps it would be a good contender to satisfy this insatiable hunger. So we sifted through some old boxes in the garage and managed to find Eragon and Eldest, the first two from a series of four books. Both are fairly hefty books so I gave myself a pat on the back for successfully slowing him down until Christmas!

My eldest and I share his bedtime reading of Eragon and it keeps us both suitably engrossed. Some sentences sound a little over written in places to me but the story line is original and the vocabulary is impressive. It is hard to imagine a fifteen year old wrote such a book. As an older writer I like to think that life experience is my advantage in that it has given me greater empathy and expanded my mind since I was fifteen years old. However being a parent, I can also see many advantages for a child to read a book which is written by a child. So my curiosity has been tweaked.

The age of an author is not something a reader would readily know. It’s not emblazoned across their book cover (thank goodness!). Nor is it normally of particular importance to the reader – if the book is good, the book is good regardless of the author’s age. However, who is it that truly knows what makes a child tick? Who knows what is cool, awesome or totally pants? Who knows the latest hot topic in the playground? It can only be a child of course. They don’t have to rely on memory; they are the ones in the thick of it. They are experiencing childhood right now and by recording such moments their points of view can become an invaluable source of understanding for other children.

An excellent example is Help, Hope and Happiness which was written by Libby Rees when she was nine years old. Having gone through the pain of her parents getting divorced she wrote the book to try and help other children cope with divorce. Similarly nine year old Alec Greven’s idea to write How to Talk to Girls came from his playground observations and desires to help his classmates get credit for their chat up efforts. Jason Gaes wrote My Book for Kids with Cancer when he was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma at age seven. It’s a book which continues to help many children of all ages.

Another one I’m particularly interested to get my hands on is The Strand Prophecy written by Brianna and Brittany Winner (otherwise known as the Winner twins). The book tells the tale of Strand the superhero with a troubled past battling to save the world. Though not a self help book the twins wrote this book when they were twelve years old despite both having been diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia. In a past blog on dyslexia (The Dancing Book) I once wrote “if you think differently to the average person, you have the power to achieve more than the average person so how can we teach children with dyslexia to draw out their unique abilities?” What an incredible example these twins are of what can be achieved and overcome. Since publication they have also became co-founders of the non-profit organisation Motivate 2 Learn which aims to promote literacy and inspire children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

Child authors have been getting recognition since way back. One of the most well known being Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl written by Anne as a Jewish teenager in hiding during the war. It was later published in 1947 and gives a true view of what it was like to live in constant fear of being caught whilst simultaneously attempting to maintain a small sense of normality in her childhood.

One of the youngest, if not the youngest writer was American born Dorothy Straight who was just four years old when she wrote How the World Began which was published in 1964. Obviously this and many others are exceptional examples of young writers. After all most four year olds haven’t even mastered writing single letters let alone a whole book! So don’t expect miracles from your tiny tot but if they do love writing let them write and express themselves in their own way. They may surprise you and have something outstanding to say. Something which could one day help many children navigate their way through the confusing path of childhood.

The Dancing Book

Einstein Quote

As it’s National Poetry Day and Dyslexia Awareness week, to celebrate I’ve written a poem called The Dancing Book about a little boy with dyslexia going through the emotions of trying to find ways to read whilst his mum is unaware of the difficulties he’s facing. A young child with dyslexia doesn’t realise that what they are trying to make sense of is much harder than what others are experiencing.

The Dancing Book Page 1

The Dancing Book Page 2

Dyslexia is often misunderstood. It has nothing to do with low intelligence, bad eyesight or poor teaching, it is merely that some people’s brains are wired differently to others, considered possibly due to genetics. In fact in many cases the child is very bright and it is the disparity between their reading skills and intelligence level which often first highlights the issue.

Being wired differently means the processes of deduction a child with dyslexia uses are different. In fact everyone has their own unique set of processing skills which are highly effective in some situations and less so in others. The mere difference being that a child with dyslexia has a set of processing skills which happen to make reading and writing more difficult. It is often the case that if you think differently to the average person, you have the power to achieve more than the average person so how can we teach children with dyslexia to draw out their unique abilities?

Unfortunately it is not a simple case of if a child has dyslexia we can list the learning strategies they need to follow. A strategy that works for one child may be totally ineffective for another. It is more about suggesting ideas to enable each child to find the strategy that works best for them. As with many things, it needs to come from within the individual.

From studying psychology I have developed an interest in learning difficulties such as dyslexia. To me, in order to be able to offer a true resolution towards enhancing their reading skills, the only way is to get into their shoes and understand the difficulties they face on a daily basis when learning to read.

What does an individual with dyslexia see and experience when reading?

The reason why people with dyslexia find it hard to read is because the text they see on a page can appear blurred (blur effect), spaced out (river effect) or faded (wash out effect). Inevitably this makes it very hard for the individual to seamlessly process the printed words and sentences. The following linked articles give a visual understanding of what an individual with dyslexia may see. A small but important insight into the types of difficulties they have to overcome.

Six Surprising Bad Practices that Hurt Dyslexic Users

Typography Book Explores What it Feels Like to Have Dyslexia

With the right support dyslexia does not need to prevent anyone from becoming an excellent reader. The main message being that if the wiring in your brain is different; don’t be afraid to try something different.

Dyslexia Friendly Books – Barrington Stoke

Fun and Games for Dyslexics