Today’s guest post is by Sally Poyton, a writer and blogger, on the subject of Dyslexia Awareness Week and making reading more accessible.
This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week, and there are great things 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 posts 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 ‘Ways 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 a talk by Tom and Caro Fickling about their comic The Phoenix, and how comics and the much more in vogue graphic novels are gateways to reading for many children and adults 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 was a periodical that had short stories and serialised novels which were all beautifully illustrated and was delivered to the door, BUT what made 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 CDs. 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 entranced by Gobblino, Wizard of Oz, and the Nightingale. The Storyteller Magazines were an un-barred access into reading that I could access with independence, and they made the desire to decrypt the code of words and learn to read even stronger.
Recalling this and listening to the talk about The Phoenix 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 Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam there is a scan-able barcode which you can use with a smart phone or tablet, this will then take you directly (at no cost) to Nosy Crow’s website 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 the older challenged reader, this would be a great access into reading.
Thank you, Sally! You can find out more about our Stories Aloud platform, bundling free digital audio readings with our print picture books, here, and take a look inside Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam below.
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