The first book that changed my life forever, wasn’t an inspirational or motivational book. The author is not a guru of any type. The first book that changed my life forever, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.
I have dyslexia and the school I was attending used phonics to teach us to read. I have nothing against phonics, but it is a horrible way to teach a child with dyslexia. However, that information was not known at the time.
I also have a hearing disability that made it impossible for me to differentiate some of the vowel sounds.
What a combination? It’s no wonder I struggled learning to read and lost the desire to even try.
I was in forth grade and the teacher decided to read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to the class. Each day, she would read a couple of chapters. I would close my eyes and picture the story in my mind. It was my favorite part of the day.
When she finished reading the book, I felt lost. I wanted to know more about Peter and his brother. I went to the library and eventually read all the books they had by Judy Blume. After I ran out of Judy Blume books, I started to read books by Beverly Cleary. Next I was ready about Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew.
It was a struggle at first, but the more time I spent reading the better I got. I didn’t know it at the time, but the most effective way to teach someone with my set of disabilities to read was through a method of repetitive sight reading. Since I fell in love with stories, that is exactly what I was doing.
It was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing that motivated me to develop my reading skills and gave me a love for books. It changed my life forever.
I was intrigued by this book, because I am dyslexic. I still struggle with telling certain letters apart, if they are not in the context of a word. I also have difficulty figuring out which side is my right and which is my left. Over the years, I developed little tricks that allow me to overcome these problems.
The book gives a brief overview of dyslexia and how the brain of dyslexics processes things differently. Those differences can create problems in certain areas; however, they also allow people with dyslexia to thrive in other areas.
The advantages or abilities discussed in this book are not in spite of dyslexia. These advantages are a direct result of dyslexia.
- People with dyslexia tend to be excellent story tellers and are extremely creative.
- People with dyslexia have a greater ability to process 3-D images in their brain and determine how those images will function in the real world.
- People with dyslexia often see patterns, relationships, and associations that are missed by those without dyslexia.
- People with dyslexia have greater long-term memory abilities, especially when dealing with events or things in a story format.
- People with dyslexia often have a greater ability to predict future outcomes, based on cause and effect processing.
The authors of the book also questioned labeling dyslexics as having a learning disability. In reality, those with dyslexia tend to be highly intelligent. They just process information differently.
The authors also believe our education system is doing a great disservice to dyslexics by trying to force them to learn in the same manner as those without dyslexia.
I was diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult. When I received the diagnosis, everything suddenly made sense. At that moment I understood why I struggled to learn to read as a child, even though I love reading. I also know why I never could differentiate between my right and my left side. It’s good to know, my atrocious spelling is a symptom of dyslexia and not a reflection of my intellectual abilities.
In elementary school my teacher read “Superfudge” to the classroom. I loved the book and wanted to read more books by the same author. That’s what drove me to keep reading, no matter how much of a struggle it was in the beginning.
In middle school my English teacher asked everyone to write an essay about what we did over the summer break. When he read my paper he realized there was something wrong. My spelling and handwriting was way below grade level. The teacher actually wrote a computer program that taught me to spell while playing the computer game. That teacher changed my life. Without him I may never been able to finish school.
Dyslexia is not all bad. Sure I struggle in some areas, but I am able to excel in other areas. Studies have found people with dyslexia are creative and have a strong imagination.
If you would like more information on dyslexia, I would recommend the documentary, “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia.” It can be found on Netflix.