Every week or two I get an email from parents of dyslexic children. These are the last two I have received.
Dear Mr Palmer
I just wanted to write to tell you about my daughter, xxxx. At the end of last term you visited her school, where she met you and was really excited about your books. For xxxx this is completely out of character, she is dyslexic and usually goes out of her way to avoid books. I am a primary school teacher and for years I have shared books with her and bought any book that she showed the slightest interest in hoping that she would want to read it, however this has never happened. So when she asked about your books, I had that same feeling of here we go again, I’ll waste some more money on a book that will simply sit on a shelf, but bought Combat Zone for her anyway.
In a bit of a mood the next day, xxxx took herself to her room and after about an hour I went looking for her, only to find her lying in bed reading her new book. She didn’t come out of her room until it was finished.
I cried that day because it was the very first time she has voluntarily read a book, I have NEVER known her to read a whole book, let alone a whole book in one day. I was so proud of her and instead of that being enough she asked for another one too. She is now reading Surface to Air.
Words can’t really express how I felt that day but I really just wanted to say a massive thank you for your books and for giving xxxx her first experience of a book being something to enjoy.
This is on behalf of my 10 year old son, xxxxx. He is dyslexic and an avid rugby player, turning out for Blaydon RFC under 11s every week and is a massive fan of Newcastle Falcons. Your books have formed a real connection with Jamie and, indeed, Scrum was the first big book that he had ever managed to read. His teacher at the time was a massive influence and has done so much work to help Jamie along on his reading journey. As a thank you he presented his teacher with his copy of Scrum as an end of year gift.
There are a lot of things to enjoy about being a published children’s writer: but the biggest buzz is emails like these.
They often come late at night, when I check my email for the last time on my phone, before sleep.
When they arrive I think of the parent that has done a good day’s parenting and are now taking the time to tell me something really important.
I love it. And I will take some of the credit.
However, the real credit for what my books and many other authors’ books have done, should go to Barrington Stoke, who publish all their books in dyslexia friendly format. That is the game changer. The research that Barrington Stoke have done – and the work that they do.
Credit too – this Dyslexia Awareness Week – to parents who support their children when they are struggling with reading. And the librarians and teachers and booksellers who guide them.
This week it is Dyslexia Awareness week. This is what it means to me.