The week beginning the 5th October has been designated National Dyslexia Week. This year, the British Dyslexia Association have decided upon the theme #DyslexiaCreates – celebrating the ideas and organisations it can produce, as well as recognising the difficulties. They’ve produced a packs for schools available to download HERE.
As a teacher, I worked with lots of pupils who have been identified as having dyslexic tendencies and some with a formal diagnosis. What I have noticed is that nearly all of these pupils unsurprisingly have very negative opinions of themselves as readers or writers, despite often being extremely creative.
To help combat those negative beliefs and inspire them to pursue their dreams, I’ve put together this blog post featuring some well-known children’s authors who have been quite open about their struggles with dyslexia and how they’ve worked around their difficulties to produce some of our favourite children’s books!
Abi Elphinstone – Abi was branded ‘unteachable’ at school due to her constant misbehaving & inability to concentrate. She later came to realise that a lot of her difficulties in class were due to undiagnosed dyslexia. Now, she’s best known for her middle grade novels packed with magic and her adventure. Her real-life travels match the adventures in her stories! Author of ‘The Dreamsnatcher’ series, ‘Sky Song’ and her new series ‘The Unmapped Chronicles’ – I can’t wait to see what’s coming next. Read her article for The Book Trust HERE.
Dav Pilkey – an American cartoonist best known for his ‘Captain Underpants’ series and ‘Dogman’ graphic novels. As a child, he was diagnosed with ADHD & dyslexia and deemed so disruptive by his teachers that he was made to sit out in the corridor. This is obviously unacceptable, but he spent his time there productively – creating his own original comic books.
Fleur Hitchcock – when at school, Fleur’s friends would help her with spellings and corrections. As she became older, Fleur realised that she experienced books very visually, retaining colours and emotions rather than the story as a whole. She has since written some wonderful middle grade titles, along with the younger ‘Clifftoppers’ series which has an updated Famous Five vibe about it. Read her piece for The Book Trust HERE.
Tom McLaughlin – Tom was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 10. He loved stories and adventure be though that books and reading weren’t for him. His talent for drawing was his way into creating children’s books such as ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’. Read his interview for BBC Bitesized HERE.
Liz Pichon – Liz didn’t know she was dyslexic at achool but was aware that she was at least a year behind her peers and the weekly times table test never failed to induce a panicked sweat. She loved books and studied illustration before moving on to create the beloved Tom Gates series of full of her trademark doodles. Watch out her her new ‘Shoe Wars’ title too. Read her piece for The Telegraph HERE.
Sally Gardner – Sally was described as ‘word blind’ at school and spent the entire time stuck reading the Janet and John books until she learnt to read at 14, then went to art school and on to illustrations books. Her novel, ‘Maggot Moon’, won the Costa Children’s Book Award. Read Sally’s article about being dyslexic from The Guardian HERE.
Some top tips to help dyslexic children create stories of their own:
1. Draw a map of your story’s world with all the places your character will visit on their journey so that you can plan where they will go.
2. Use interesting old objects or photographs to help spark your ideas.
3. Listen to audiobooks so you can understand how stories build and flow. Ask someone to create a word bank of interesting words you hear so you can use them later.
Make sure you check in on my blog over the coming week as I’ll be reviewing lots of wonderful books from dyslexia-friendly publisher, Barrington Stoke.