Helping dyslexic children access literature

on Wednesday, 26 February 2014. Posted in N21 Experts



The University of London's Institute of Education has recently released a study showing that reading for pleasure can "significantly" improve a child's school performance, across the curriculum i.e. that the the amount of reading for pleasure a child does correlates with their academic achievement. It found that children who read for pleasure made more progress not just in English but also in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read.


For parents of Dyslexic children this can be quite alarming news. Dyslexia takes many forms. Many Dyslexic children have a gap between their reading ability and their intellectual level. These children often want to read books for their age and comprehension level but for many it is too difficult and the process is too slow, so reading for pleasure will be out of the question as it is too much of a struggle. They don't want to read books that are too young for them and at times choose books that are too sophisticated for them so that they fit in with their peers.


So how can parents of Dyslexic children expose their children to literature so that they gain the benefits of reading?

Dyslexia friendly books


Dyslexia friendly books are available in Enfield. Unfortunately in some libraries they are mixed in with all the other books, so you have to hunt for them. In Ridge Avenue library (N.21) they now have a dyslexia friendly shelf. To be able to spot them look out for red 'Dyslexia Friendly' stickers on their covers and the pages of the book are not white. These books are available to buy from Barrington Stoke, an independent publisher

The books have benefits for dyslexic and reluctant readers. They have:

• Short word lengths so readers can enjoy the achievement of finishing a books

• Lots of chapter breaks so readers can take a rest

• Cream paper which minimises glare

• A dyslexia-friendly font

• Special line, character and paragraph spacing

Have a look at the website and you will discover that the books have been written by famous authors including Michael Morpurgo, Jeremy Strong and Julia Donaldson among others. They give children a huge sense of satisfaction as although the text has been edited to suit a lower reading age, the content is appropriate to the actual age of reader. Their website offers advice and tips for parents and educators.


Reading aloud to your child


Reading aloud to your child is one of the most constructive things you can do to help a dyslexic child. We are aware that sometimes sitting and reading to your child is not practical every night for some, but when you are short of time try reading a poem. This can take five minutes and will delight the child as much as any chapter from a book.


Reading aloud to a dyslexic child is beneficial as it will help them to access books that they can understand but that have text that is too complex for them to read alone. It gives the child the opportunity to ask questions about the book as it is being read to them and to discuss the story whilst also learning new vocabulary. Children love discussing books, just as much as they love talking about new films.


Audio Books


Audio books are a fantastic way for children to access stories above their reading level but within their comprehension level. They are usually read by authors and professional actors who are able to bring the stories to life for the listener. The child could also read along with the reader, though this may be tricky for some.Audio books are available in your local library, though the selection is not anywhere near the choice there is in print books. They can also be purchased in different formats quite easily from large book retailers.


We recently came across a wonderful charity 'Young Calibre'. It is a national charity providing a subscription-free postal service of unabridged audio books for young people with sight problems, dyslexia or other disabilities, who cannot read print. Their site has book suggestions, reviews and an extensive library to choose from. To subscribe or view their work, please visit


How we can help at The Story Room?


At The Story Room we positively welcome dyslexic children to come and take part in our Creative Writing Workshops. During each workshop we discuss books we have read or listened to and read extracts from books that are relevant to the workshop. We encourage the children to write down their stories and ideas and introduce them to new and challenging vocabulary.

Helena Steel

The Story Room

The University of London's Institute of Education has recently released a study showing that reading for pleasure can "significantly" improve a child's school performance.

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