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

From Picture Book to Chapter Book.

Early Reader 6-8 Blog Image

My six year old boy isn’t a reluctant reader as such but if I ask him to read a book that he thinks he can’t manage he’s easily put off. Whilst I will only suggest books which I think he can cope with there’s often other ideas going on in that head of his. Without a doubt, foremost he still adores many picture books but he’s now becoming interested in longer stories despite it being obvious he still lacks the confidence to tackle them head on.

I’ve therefore been looking for books which bridge the gap between picture books and longer chapter books; ones which make the transition less obvious. The general rule of thumb is to pick books which have early reader across the top of the front cover. Early reader books are smaller than picture books and although the font size varies between books that too is generally reduced. On the whole they’re also split into short chapters but predominantly still focus on less text and more illustrations. Horrid Henrys & Early Readers 20 Children’s Books Collection Box Set Illustrated by Francesca Simon is an obvious choice within this category. However for some reason despite his school book bag being packed full of early reader books my son steers well clear of these at home. I think perhaps he associates these types of books with school. So I’ve spent some time searching for chapter books which contain the same features as early reader books but maybe look a little less educational! It hasn’t been easy. There are several within this category of which he loves the story and is happy for me to read to him but if any suggestion is made for him to read them to me he quickly loses interest. I’ve therefore tried to follow his lead on this. It’s involved offering a large variety of books and much trial and error. However the following six books are all ones which he often picks up and reads by himself without any prompting.


Stink, The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald (author) & Peter H. Reynolds (illustrator). Published:  Walker Books Ltd, 2006.

This has been around for a while and is the first in a spin off series from the author’s Judy Moody series as Stink is Judy’s little brother James. In this book we follow Stink through from his experience of shrinking to dealing with an escaping class newt and being the recipient of an un-birthday party. An amusing story with a light-hearted tone encouraging children to be happy with who they are. The large text and frequent illustrations made this book a popular choice.

CLICK TO BUY Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid


Wigglesbottom Primary, The Magic Hamster by Pamela Butchart (author) & Becka Moor (illustrator). Published: Nosy Crow Ltd, 2016.

I knew this title would get my youngest’s attention. The mix of magic, hamsters and friendship was everything he loves all rolled into one. He was happy to take this one away and read it on his own instead of watching TV so it gets full marks from me. This is just one out of a growing series of books set in Wigglesbottom Primary and it’s a lovely example of the dual colour palette and shiny pages I’m seeing more and more of for this age range. Somehow this design seems to enhance the contemporary feel of the book for me. This particular book is split into three separate stories, the first being about the magic hamster.

CLICK TO BUY Wigglesbottom Primary: The Magic Hamster


Action Dogs, Ocean of Peril by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore (authors) & Martin Chatterton (illustrator). Published: Usborne Publishing Ltd, 2012.

My youngest was very keen to read this one to me and despite some words being beyond his vocabulary level he has happily persisted. Action Dogs is a graphic novel with comic style speech bubbles, black and white illustrations, moody cats and clumsy heroes with high tech gadgets and disastrous plans. The font is smaller than that of other books but it has been split into twenty-five manageable sections. A book packed with drama and mishaps galore.

CLICK TO BUY Action Dogs: Ocean of Peril (Book 1)


The Chicken Squad, The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin (author) & Kevin Cornell (illustrator). Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint ed. Edition, 2015.

These cute baby chickens are full of character and brave beyond their size. Split between an introduction, nine chapters and an epilogue, this book works well as a gentle introduction for young readers to a traditional book layout but with large text. The black and white illustrations express a range of emotions as the chickens go in search of the scary thing that has got Tail and squirrel all worked up.

CLICK TO BUY The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure


Squishy McFluff, The Invisible Cat by Pip Jones (author) & Ella Okstad (illustrator). Published: Faber & Faber Ltd 2014.

The large text and a dual pastel palate used to highlight expressive black and white sketches makes this book a pleasure to look at. The story is split into three short rhyming chapters about a little girl Ava and her invisible kitten who likes to get into mischief. Stories written in rhyme are often very appealing to new readers as the predictability of rhyme can help them interpret the text more easily. Squishy’s funny melodic rhyming adventures are a prime example of this. Pip Jones has had five more published since this one as part of the series.

CLICK TO BUY Squishy McFluff: The Invisible Cat!


Claude, Going for Gold by Alex T. Smith (author / illustrator). Published: Hodder Children’s Books 2016.

Going for Gold is the latest in a superb series. Although the Claude stories aren’t split into chapters they are a must for early readers. Our entire family are huge fans of the comical French dog Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock. It’s extremely amusing on many levels and complimented by the eccentric illustrations splashed with red. Claude is cast as a lovable accidental hero who is always up for trying new things. Accompanied by his friend Sir Bobblysock, who doesn’t like getting dirty and prefers to do as little as he possibly can, they regularly slip out of the house in search of adventure whilst their owners are at work.

CLICK TO BUY Claude Going for Gold!

I’ll be posting some more short reviews here and on my Facebook page over the summer holidays of picture books as well as easy reader books for 6-8 year olds so hopefully everyone can find at least one to keep each little one keen to read this summer.

Source: Library or private collection.

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

#BFCB #BooksForChildrenBlog

@lonerganbooks

The Best Invented Characters in Picture Books

My favourite part of writing children’s picture books is creating and developing fun and likeable characters. The characters are what steer the story and give it purpose and a meaning to exist.  However, to date I’ve never attempted to create a new creature in its own right. For now I’ve concentrated on humans or animals. So like many before me I often wonder what the right ingredients are that make an everlasting and memorable make believe character. Is it just a single magic ingredient or a mixture of many? To investigate this I chose six original and well known picture book characters which have stood the test of time.

Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs (author / illustrator). Published: Penguin Books ed. 2012.
This edition is set out like a graphic novel and as the title states, Fungus is a Bogeyman who bizarrely is lovable for the very thing we dislike about him; his grimy, grubby lifestyle. His manners and habits are so disgusting that we can’t help but grimace out loud and revel in his yucky, sticky mess. Fungus lives in the deep, dark tunnels of Bogeydom and this book devotes a double page spread to Bogey anatomy. Bogeymen sleep in the day then like to stir up trouble and be a nuisance at night by waking babies, making as much noise as possible, frightening people and even giving them boils as Bogeymen do everything humans despise. Fungus lives in a world which seems topsy turvy to us but completely mundane to him so he soon begins to question the reason for his existence.

The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson (author / illustrator). Translated by Sophie Hannah, 2001. Published: Sort of Books, ed. 2001.

Moomin is a lovable Moomintroll who lives in the woods and helps his friend Mymble find her sister Little My and the fillyjonk. Right from the start Moomin is the one leading the searches and not afraid of adventure. Moomin is portrayed as kind, helpful and supportive to the others whilst remaining a tiny bit vulnerable. What is there not to love about Moomin?

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (author) and Axel Scheffler (illustrator). Published: Macmillan Children’s Books, 1999.


The Gruffalo is a creature that also lives in the woods, whose distinct physical characteristics are clearly described to create a memorable image (and rhyme). The woodland creatures talk about him liking “roasted fox, owl ice cream and scrambled snake” but his description turns out to be more intimidating than his actions as he mocks the mouse and gladly follows him. The fact that the reader is aware but not the Gruffalo, that it’s the Gruffalo scaring the other creatures and not the mouse only adds to our sympathy for the Gruffalo. He’s lovable because he’s not very bright and is easily manipulated by the mouse.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (author / illustrator). Published: Harper Collins Children’s Books, ed. 2009.

Dr. Seuss is the master of creating characters including The Grinch, the Once-ler and Wockets but The Lorax has to be my favourite by far. The Lorax lives in a tree trunk and looks like a wise but jovial and cuddly grandfather figure. He speaks for the trees and isn’t afraid to follow his principles and ethics when the Once-ler starts to destroy the Truffula trees and their Truffula fruits. So much so eventually all the creatures are driven out of their home. It’s a serious story about the importance of looking after the environment but as always with Dr Seuss, it’s told in a clever and entertaining way. The Lorax is a strong, individual character.

Larf by Ashley Spires (author / illustrator). Published: Kids Can Press; reprint ed. Jun 2015.


Larf is a vegetarian sasquatch described as a 7-ft tall manbeast who lives in the woods with his bunny friend Eric. He’s an unassuming guy who doesn’t like attention and enjoys a quiet life but deep down feels a little sad that nobody seems to want to acknowledge his existence.  Larf feels different to the humans so keeps himself to himself to avoid drawing attention to his differences. However when he meets Shurl and Patricia he starts to feel they might be able to understand him so he becomes more open to changing his life and sharing his time with them.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (author / illustrator). Published: Random House Children’s Books, Red Fox Ed. 2000.

Although the Wild Things are not the main characters I thought they deserved being included as they still play such a central role to the story. Of all the characters I’ve mentioned The Wild Things are probably the most fearsome with all their roaring and gnashing, sharp claws and rolling of eyes but as Max is able to tame them and play games with them, they quickly lose their frightening image. The Wild Things live on an island in the middle of the sea and although they are physically gigantic and unruly animals we soon understand that they are just doing what comes naturally to them.

What do all these characters have in common?

Having gathered all these creatures together in one room I started to try and decipher what I’d learnt from these characters? What do they all have in common? Although not an exhaustive list, I picked out the most important points which stood out to me and thought I’d share these observations with you.

  • NAME – something easy to pronounce but with no other meaning.
  • APPEARANCE – they cannot be a human or animal but must be recognisable as a creature with eyes, legs and arms for example.
  • SETTING – where does the character live? Somewhere hidden from the human eye.
  • RELATABLE FEELINGS / ACTIONS – ensure the reader can empathise with the character’s reactions and reasons for doing something.
  • PERSONALITY – the character needs traits that we admire, love or sympathise with.
  • SOMETHING UNIQUE – there needs to be something unique or distinct about the character to make them stand out. Either through physical or personality traits, a particular interest, passion or belief or being unconventional in their outlook.
  • GROWS – the character needs to change, grow or learn something since the start of the story.
  • EFFECT ON OTHERS – they need to have an effect on the other characters, stir up feelings, instigate behaviours etc.
  • INTERESTING EXPERIENCES – they should experience a range of feelings and events in the story which surprise or capture the reader’s imagination.
  • NEVER MEDIOCRE – the character should be clearly defined with distinct personality traits and an individual appearance. Nothing vague or wishy-washy, these characters are different, unusual, with a purpose and the reader knows it.
  • GOOD OR BAD? – Are they a good or a bad character? They can be bad, but not intimidating, good but not weak or they may grow from being a bad character to a good one but never remain in between.

Looking at the characters within a story in this way isn’t easy and it’s obvious there are a number of factors to consider but breaking the character down like this can help to determine their motives, dreams and behaviours in greater depth in order to understand who they are.

Maybe now I should attempt the trickier part of creating a character of my own…

 

Source: Library or private 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.

 

Make Bedtime Reading Interactive

Children’s books are supposed to be fun but this intention can be easily misinterpreted by a child when reading is a daily part of their homework. So sometimes as parents we have to go that extra mile to show our children that although it’s a routine requirement it doesn’t have to be a chore. We know reading stories can be funny, interesting, surprising and enlightening but when we add in a little extra imagination they can be read in unconventional ways too. By doing this we can demonstrate that a writer can provide the platform for your enjoyment but how you the reader benefits from the book is a completely individual approach. The aim is to make reading stories a positive experience. I doubt there’s anyone out there who wants to do something they don’t enjoy so why would we expect our children to feel any different?

Reading with Child

  1. Invite a favourite cuddly toy to act out the story. A cuddly toy is like a child’s best friend. One that never disagrees with them, makes them feel safe and will always be there for them (providing they’re not left on the train, in the park or accidentally dropped down a well). So helping their toy act out a story can feel quite natural for a child. Ask your child to choose a cuddly toy who would like to play the leading character in the story. As you read, swap the name of the leading character with toy’s name and watch your child take them on an adventure. A great way to make the story more memorable too.
  2. Narrate the story in a silly voice. Pick a well known, distinctive voice to impersonate such as Buzz Lightyear, X Factor voice over, Mr Bean, a robot or Yoda etc. Then see if you can get some giggles by maintaining the guise for the whole of the story.
  3. Read the opposite of the story. Children love it when they know what the story is supposed to be and can spot the funny deliberate errors made by the reader. To do this choose a book your child is familiar with (you know the favourite book you must have read a thousand times). Then turn the story around by replacing words with opposite ones. For example, “We’re going on a mouse hunt. We’re going to catch a tiny one, what a rainy day! We’re so scared” etc (based on Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen) or “Once there was a boy and the boy hated stars very much. Each night the boy ignored the stars outside his window and wished they would all go away” (based on How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers).
  4. Take turns with reading the character’s lines. This is a simple one but very effective on the nights when your child is reluctant or just too tired to read as your joint participation takes some pressure away from your child to complete the whole book on their own.
  5. Sing the story. If your child likes to sing and is losing interest why not suggest they sing the story to you? This can be a made up tune, a memorable song from a film or a popular nursery rhyme and perhaps different characters could have different singing styles. Singing the story can add a new dimension and help develop intonation and expression.

Reading on Sofa

Livening up bedtime reading can be as much for us parents as the children at times. I know I struggle some nights to muster up the enthusiasm when I’m feeling exhausted, stressed or dispirited with life and just want them to be quiet and in bed so I can wind down from a challenging day. So removing the monotony is also a good way to keep it pleasurable for all involved. It’s important for us to stay engaged and enthusiastic too because if we can’t show we’re enjoying reading time the chances are our children won’t see the fun in it either.

Here’s a link to one of my earlier blogs for more ideas on how to encourage reading – 10 Tips to Transform Your Reluctant Reader into a Master Reader.