I have always been told that dyslexics are not readers. Not in the sense that they consume books the way a chocoholic enjoys a bar of Swiss chocolate - making it an experience of almost religious proportions.
This I've always heard.
But I am dyslexic . . . and an avid reader . . . all be it slow
Thanks to my parents, I have been able to read since I was three.
My mother was the director of a public library in a suburb of Denver, and I would often be there. Surrounded by books.
There were also books at home. Three bookcases in the living room and a bookcase in my bedroom.
A house without books is like a room without windows.I don't know why I became such an ardent reader. My parents were a big part for sure, but there also weren't that many other competing distractions in the 1960s in Denver. Colorado.
- Horace Mann
Denver only had five television stations (2, 4, 6, 7, 9).
Channel 7 had something for kids in the morning with the "Noel and Andy" show. There were cartoons (Mighty Mouse was most often played). Noel would show you how to draw this and that. And if you didn't miss your school bus by watching, that was it for kids.
Sure Channel 2 would play reruns of the "Honeymooners" at around noon. But it had important shows to run like "Queen for a Day"(drek - which they'd even re-run years after the show ended) and the talk show "Not for Women Only" (which was important, just not to a kid).
At 3 pm Channel 2 would begin the afterschool programming complete with "Blinky's Fun Club" and reruns of "Gilligan's Island," "MacHale's Navy," the "Flintstones" etc.
Thursday nights, Channel 6 (PBS) would have Gene's Junction (and I still have my sing a long book).
But besides playing outside, scouts, church (if your church held mid week church, mine didn't), and I had ballet, there weren't many other distractions after school.
Which meant for me, a child who was bullied for being a "dyslexic, pigeon toed, buck toothed, chubby kid who needed glasses," there weren't a lot of ways and places to escape.
The bullying for being dyslexic started in Kindergarten (a private school), when my teacher put a "dunce cap" on me and sat me in a corner. This despite the fact that I could read. One day my parents visited the school and saw this. The uproar was loud and immediate. My father (also dyslexic) was not going to allow what was done to him, to be done to me.
But the bullying continued into elementary at the public school.
I was slow in reading, though I read! I was in the last reading group and watched kids get promoted ahead of me when they didn't have a working vocabulary as great as mine. I was particularly incensed when Stacy was advanced a head of me when she couldn't define words like "shingle." (yep, still not over it) But I couldn't read aloud without stumbling, which was the measure Mrs. D. used.
I went to summer school every summer because of reading. Even though I participated in three summer reading programs, every summer and read double or triple the amount suggested.
My school principal didn't hold out much hope for me either. She told my mother, "Some kids have it for school and some kids don't. [Your daughter] obviously doesn't."
I hated school. But for reasons my mother never understood, I would play school when I got home from it with my little sister. It really wasn't a mystery to me why I was doing it. I reasoned that I was getting all this abuse because I was dumb (even though on many levels I knew I wasn't). If my sister entered school "smart" she'd be okay. So I taught her.
In Kindergarten she could not only could add fractions, she understood them. (which wasn't something even remotely close to being in preschool curricula at the time).
Books became my refuge. I would come home from a day of being tormented (calling me "pig" and pushing up their nose and making pig sounds when they saw me was a favorite) and after sitting in front of the tv for a while, I would then lose myself in a book.
Books became the bricks and walls of my emotional Keep and Ramparts.
After 4th grade my parents pulled me out and into a private school. I was asked if I wanted to move on to 5th grade and possibly have to take summer school every year for the rest of my life, or do 4th grade again and never have to do summer school again unless I wanted to.
I so hated summer school and the time it took from swimming, etc. that I readily agreed to take 4th grade over again. This time I was a success, so much so that the public elementary wanted me back.
I did return to public school after one year because I missed the competition - but never again went to that school or any of the schools that were the "track" kids on my block went to.
In that year, though, under the watchful eye of my beloved Sister Irene I gained self confidence and self assurance, and the new ability to deal with bullies (even after getting braces). I became the student I was always meant to be.
I continued to read, and read a lot.
Never read Poe when you can't sleep at night, and you need to.But I never shook the feeling of books being my armor against the world. When I saw the movie "Fahrenheit 451" it triggered a great unspoken fear inside me that books would disappear, and I began to collect them. Some may say "horde them." But I felt a deep, maybe irrational fear that "my kingdom" was at risk.
-book reading wisdom from Clytemnestra
Sometimes that collecting has helped us.
When we were very poor I sold my whole Khalil Gibran collection. And while I understand why, I still regret it to this day.
And sometimes it's just boxes and more boxes of books to move from one address to another.
In our house, like the one I grew up in, there are three bookcases in the livingroom. There is also, at least one bookcase in every bedroom, and several more in hallways, etc. My husband is also an avid reader, and while 2 of my children loved to read, my 2 others would be hard pressed to pick up a book for enjoyment.
These two, like their mother, also have dyslexia. My oldest son's is more profound than mine, but then again his biological father was also dyslexic. Try as I might, with all the tricks I learned (because 1960s education didn't do much to help dyslexics - remediation was only starting in the early middle 70s). The tricks and coping skills that my Dad had taught me.
Reading, like most skills, gets better the more you do. Even for dyslexics. But beyond graphic novels (which I didn't have a problem with) we couldn't get our two dyslexic sons to be engaged readers.
It wasn't until we stumbled on to the University of Massachusetts Summer Reading Programs for Children and Adults that the reader in them came through.
I can't really tell you what they did, but the change was immediate. For the last semester of my eldest son's high school career, he was the student his teachers always knew was there (they even said so at graduation). He read, and he read more. One of his favorite authors is Kurt Vonnegut.
Our youngest, now 17, took the class for 3rd graders and it's like he never had a problem to begin with. UMass reading program did more for him in 2 months than a couple of years at Sylvan did.
I am often asked why, having grown up in a public library and being the reader I am, why I don't patronize our public library. The answer is simple, I have such a hard time getting books back in time that I generally pay enough in fines to buy the book. So I just go ahead and buy the book.
Yeah I am that bad.
But this is where Kindle has been a Godsend. Books on Kindle generally don't cost as much as paper books. And they don't weigh as much either (I was seriously getting tendinitis issues with George R. R. Martin's, "A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire" it was so heavy.
It was the single biggest reason I bought a Kindle. And now, with the closing of our closest bookstore, the fastest way I can get books.
And boy have I been getting (and reading) books. From December 30, 2011 when I downloaded my first kindle book to today, March 21, 2013, I have read 30 books.
That's 2 books a month. And that may seem like a small amount to anyone else (my husband probably doubles that with little effort) but to a dyslexic that is huge.
Dyslexics can read.
Dyslexics can enjoy reading
Dyslexics can get better and faster at reading, the more they read
if given the proper tools and education and time without pressure.
Now I just need to decide what my 31st book will be.
My dyslexic family tree
My paternal grandfather
oldest and youngest son
my ex-husband was dyslexic
my father's brother's son was also dyslexic
My father did wear a dunce cap in school and was called "Dummy" even by his siblings. When my Dad put the pieces together and figured out that Grandpa was also dyslexic and told his oldest sister, she acted like he had just said that Grandpa murdered 20 people.
Later, I'm told, she came around to believing that Dad was/is right. (something in the back of my head is suggesting that her son may also be dyslexic). My other cousin's dyslexia was also discovered after death when his sister and I had a whole discussion on what being dyslexic is like. My uncle was very hard on all his children.
Humiliation when trying to educate does more harm than good.
The last 11 books I've read (in descending order, most recent first - I finished Lauren Drain's 2 nights ago)
Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
My Billion Year Contract, Memoir of a Former Scientologist
SCIENTOLOGY - ABUSE AT THE TOP
Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape
Hill, Jenna Miscavige, Pulitzer, Lisa
Beautiful Chaos (Beautiful Creatures)
Garcia, Kami, Stohl, Margaret
Beautiful Redemption (Beautiful Creatures)
Garcia, Kami, Stohl, Margaret
Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures)
Garcia, Kami, Stohl, Margaret
Garcia, Kami, Stohl, Margaret