Wednesday 16 October 2013

Dyslexia Awareness Week - Accessing Reading

This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week, and there are great thing’s going on all around the country to celebrate dyslexia and raise awareness and bust any derogatory dyslexia myths. Last year I did a great many post’s to contribute in my small way but this year a house move, deadlines and life in general has thwarted my plans. However attending the Oxford Children’s Book Group’s ‘Way’s into Reading’ Conference at the weekend has inspired me to write about my access into reading, and if you grew up in the 80’s you may well get nostalgic…

I was listening to talk my Tom and Caro Fickling about their comic The Pheonix, and how comic and the much more en-vogue graphic novels are gateways to reading for many children  and adults (I’m looking at you Tom) alike. This talk got some clogs churning in my head and dislodged a long forgotten memory.  The Story Teller Magazines of my child hood.

As a child reading was excruciating, I loved the stories but the reading was so difficult and the stigma of not being able to read made me so ashamed that most accesses into reading were barred. I did however subscribe to the Storyteller magazine. The Story Magazine, [press here to go the fan site] was a periodical that had short stories and serialised novels which were all beautifully illustrated and was delivered to the door, BUT what made in accessible was the TAPE.

Yes a tape, and for those of you too young to know what a tape is; it was kind of an MP3 File, before CD’s. Here's a picture…

So I would look through the books again and again, and listen to them being read on the tape recorder. The Storyteller Magazines, also came with files to safely store your magazines, and carry-case storage for the tapes.  It was this great combo that had me enwrapped with Gobblino, Wizard of Oz, and the Nightingale.  The Storyteller Magazines were an un-barred access into reading on that I could access with independence and make the desire to decrypt the code of words and learn to read even stronger.

Recalling this and listening to the Fickling’s talk about The Pheonix, got me wishing that there were something like this now for challenged readers, a magazine with a talking component. Surly with all the new technology this could be possible?

Well Tracey Corderoy the lovely author of many picture books and starter novels,  talked about a feature that appears in her Picture books published by Nosy Crow.  Inside the covers of her books like ShiftyMcNiffty there is a scan able barcode which you can use with a smart phone of tablet, this will then take you directly (at no cost) to Nosy Crow’s web-site and will then read you the text [it's sound only, no visuals] for the book, helpfully ‘Pinging’ when it’s time to turn the page! This enables the child to listen to story and follow the text.

Another access to reading utilising new technology is Me Books, a company which sells books apps where the books are read, or it is possible to record your own reading of the book. This in turn can help children to access reading, as they can listen and follow the words with out the stress of de-coding it themselves.

These are all great advances and open up more accesses to reading, but still I think if we could get a Storyteller type magazine for the 21st century, aimed for he older challenged read this would be a great access into reading.

Dyslexia Awareness Week 2013!

Monday 7 October 2013

The Festive Manuscript – an ode to Spellcheck!

I’m red faced and writhing in embarrassment. I am dyslexic, but I’m also an optimist. As a dyslexic I KNOW I can’t spell of toffee. As an optimist I BELIEVIE I can learn to spell [this may be too many Disney cartoons coming back to taunt me – if you work hard enough you’ll succeed]!

The issue is my current manuscript. My manuscripts are usually always festive. I don’t mean that I write about Christmas, NO, but they are decorated all over with red and green squiggly lines. Usually.

My current WIP was amazingly squiggle free, the whole 74,000 words of it were anti-festive. So as a dyslexic and relatively intelligent woman what I SHOULD have thought was – what’s wrong with spellcheck. But as an optimist I BELIVIED that my dyslexia was improving and that I’d managed to achieve an error fee MS.

So after my final revisions, MS mark (who know I’ve forgotten it has been edited do much), I smugly press send to my writer friends to read and critique.

Then my ever-so-lovely husband reads the MS. Three days later my husband surfaces looking like he’s been duelling with a hormonal tyrannosaurus rex, to tell me, well; the prognosis isn’t good. And then utters the words ‘you broke spell check, it wasn’t correcting anything.’

Then I recollected this little gem…

Apparently this was a warning from word that spellcheck was about to have a nervous breakdown. As a relatively intelligent dyslexic woman I SHOULD have halted everything and yelled for help. As an optimist I BELIVIED all was fine, laughed it off and carried on (another 50,000 words!)

So thanks to a very patient husband, I have a fixed spell check and a much more readable MS. So MS mark (who know I’ve forgotten it has been edited do much but a least it’s now readable), is pinging its way to my ever so lovely and patient writer friends.

The morel of this story is – respect all your writer friends and don’t ignore cries for help even if that friend is spell check.

Sorry spell check!