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Lichfield literacy expert urges people not to buy books for dyslexic children

bookA Lichfield literacy expert has recommended that children who are dyslexic should not be given books as gifts this Christmas.

Dr Daryl Brown, headteacher at specialist school Maple Hayes Dyslexia School in Lichfield, believes that while parents may think they are helping children by buying them books they could actually be preventing them from becoming more literate.

Dr Brown explained:

“It sounds bizarre that anyone specialising in increasing the literacy potential of children would tell parents not to buy books, but it really does make sense when dyslexia is involved. A child’s literacy level is expressed in terms of his or her ‘reading age’ and when this is much younger than the child’s actual age it means the texts they can understand are probably patronisingly simple in terms of concept and plot.

“Children with literacy problems still love getting completely enthralled in a good yarn, so the solution is to present it differently. The obvious solution is audio books, which expose the listener to language and vocabulary that are appropriate for their age.”

Although audio books is recommended, Dr Brown insisted films will not help youngsters develop their literacy. He added:

“Films are great at story-telling, but not so good at developing language skills. Thinking of the extremely popular Harry Potter books, Harry Potter books, there is so much detail in the book which is lost when it is abridged from the film. In comparison, the audio book version offers the listener every word and nuance.

“Where literacy is concerned, it is important to engage children with something that interests them at the same time as being educational. Magazine subscriptions are also an ideal gift, something on a subject that interests the child.

“If they have something with compelling content with a good proportion of pictures, it will encourage them to want to try to read the stories and captions and get the most out of the magazine, rather than thinking of it as a challenge to be overcome. Also, don’t forget comics or graphic novels.”

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