Using Audio Books to enhance focus, comprehension skills and vocabulary for dyslexic spectrum students
I got my first cassette player at the age of 7 - I still can clearly remember all of the books I listened to over and over. I started using my first cassette recorder at the age of 12 in secondary school to record all my lessons so I could listen back to them - I upgraded to a MP3 player/recorder by college!
Now as a dyslexic adult I insist on reading daily to keep up my skills and I'm secretly chuffed at having read 27 books this year!
However I still listen to audio books for series that I feel are beyond my reading and I feel that I would miss out on...
I prescribe audio books for younger students like a medical doctor. For younger students who are book-phobic it gets them into reading and liking books - they don't realize what the are missing out on! It also helps with focus and relaxing the brian. I will talk about this more in my future sleep patterns article. The biggest thing I learned at 7 was that I could memorize the story by listening - it thought me the auditory compensation skills that I still rely so heavily on - in college my fellow students were fascinated that I could remember word for word the lectures despite no notes as I wasn't able to ever take dictation. I would later correct all my class mates notes as I used them for my degree as I have had the time to take the lecture in and understand it rather than worrying about writing. So audio books teach us how to focus while just listening.
Many dyselxic spectrum students struggle with comprehension. Again with audio books we can learn to focus on the context of writing and reading. We learn what to expect from lanuage and where it goes best together. This later helps us while we are reading - it's like we go into auto pilot working out the text from the context without even realizing what we are doing!
Lastly a great benefit of audio books is learning words! Like many dyslexics I simply didn't have the words to say or write at an early age as I wasn't learning them from books. We all know the students who talk better because they read or are read to or they spend more time in adult conversations - they always stand out as being more "educated" to us. Dyslexics quite often are seen as poor at communication as they speak a lot in "things" and "stuff" and other small bity words to fill the gaps of what they are trying to say. Audio books can help to fill these gaps very quickly!
As dyslexics all have huge imaginations I always recomend books that open up new worlds - or even better are like the world you live in only differently. This is why Harry Potter has got more dyslexics to read than any other series ever.
You can download the Harry Potter Audio Books directly from http://www.pottermore.com/
The next series I love is the Dark materials or Northern Lights series as I see them by Phillp Pullman. These can be found on iTunes, Audible and the BBC http://www.bbcshop.com/audiobook-boxsets/phillip-pullman-his-dark-materials-trilogy/invt/9780563529286
For every young student I recommend Dr. Seuss - He is amazing. The app store for the iPhone and iPad has some amazing interactive audio book apps - The Star-Belly Sneetches is still my favorite.
For older students I recommend the Twilight sage, any of the Agatha Christie books or plays, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, Dick Francis & Felix Francis, Donna Leon books, Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Boys will probably enjoy Frederick Forsyth or John Le Carre which may be too difficult to read. For both when older any books by Dan Brown or The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith can be good debating books on larger world issues.
Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly Expression Developist™
So welcome back after the summer. I have been taking the time to read some fiction over the summer. One of the ways it is really easy to get dyslexic teenagers reading more difficult books is to introduce books that they have already seen the films of. This is also the best way to get through that brick that you have been set for school exams! And yes the teacher will tell you not to watch the film as it will be different from the book but it is a great way to get over the initial hurdle of reading it and you can learn how to do the comparison study by knowing what it different from the book and the film!
One Day by David Nicholls is a clever book that will appeal to students who like dates and diaries as it is set very much around time and the passing of the years! A single day every year and the changes to each others lives.
Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda is a great way to get students into international fiction as it is originally translated from French - A very French style story with lots of character development and ways to really develop your understanding of people and their relationships. I think this is the first translated book I read which got me on to many after! It would be great to combine with a french lesson class too...
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg is one of the earliest books I remember reading and I have read it many times since - I don't think you can get a better recommendation of a book if you can re-read it again and again over 15 years... A very easy book to read and again one that fixes itself around dates.
Until next issue happy reading for all but especially all those Dyslexic Teenagers out there who have out grown baby books!
Dr. Naoisé Expression Developist™
Oxford & Cambridge revisited, along with the Charles Dickens Museum London as I talk about my new book. It's been an amazing journey so far in the writing.
So I guess I'm no different than other dyslexics as in I read slowly! Hence the realistic gaps between BookClub posts! But I do read loads of books at the same time - I'm also continually meeting dyslexic teenagers who haven't found something they would like to read. This was my first main purpose in starting this blog, to help dyslexic teenagers to keep reading! It can be very difficult when you reach 15 to find a genre that appeals and especially as a dyslexic because many adult books are too dense - I know only too well the challenges of going into a book shop and finding a book amongst the vast shelves of them! Many dyslexics because of the hereditary nature of the condition don't come from families of readers either which means there often isn't anyone to say try this... and the books picked on many school curriculum's don't help either as there shear size is terrifying and language is often outdated!
So this BookClub selections are:
Animal farm by George Orwell believe it or not! It is a very easy read and I have found that it really appeals to introverts, boys equally like it and many students I work with who are diagnosed with Aspergers. It is a very simple book but I guess it has some deep meaning questions that appeal to deep thinkers ... It really questions how systems in society work. It can often be hard to find books that appeal to boys as well as girls and this one fits the bill. It also has the added bonus for a dyslexic reader - it's short!
Next up in the same generation is Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. Again surprisingly Capote is very easy to read - much easier than F. Scott Fitzgerald which is on many school courses.
Capote has a much simpler style! This is a girls book but I have found for the boys, again particularly students with Aspergers they really enjoy a slightly more morbid read such as In Cold Blood.
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín is a really enjoyable read - I read it very quickly and it is one of the easier reads I have had set in 1950's Ireland and America. This is more a teenage girls book and really gives a sense of what it was like to travel to work in America as such a vast place coming from Ireland - but it also shows just how small the communities were for the people who moved. It seemed like everyone back home still had a connection to your life despite being across the Atlantic! You can take the Irish out of the country but do you take the Irish out of the person and the gossiping nature? This book should be on a school course as there are many themes and it is still an easy read!
To finish up this BookClub I'm going to include another book that I often recommend to the students I meet - it is a coming of age book set Swansea, Submarine by Joe Dunyhorne.
I think it is a book that can appeal to both genders and I often recommend it to boys. It has the most fantastic one liners and I found it had great humour around somevery embarrassing topics for teenagers. The film is fantastic too and the soundtrack was recorded by Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys - you can't get trendier than that!
It might seem strange for a profound dyselxic but I'm known for giving books as presents for both Birthdays and Christmas, (and just random times people need cheering up!) Many friends over the years have got my idol Dr Seuss in the post when I have felt they needed some extra karma.
So I thought this a good time of the year to compile a few more books that I have been drawn to this year...
First up the most magical book I have read this year!
The Night Circus - a great story, I can't tell you any of the names of the characters but us dyslexics know that doesn't matter! Translated from German I found it an easy read - took me a while to read the whole book but the story was so involving I didn't even need to pick up another book in the meantime to keep my attention as I often do (I generally read anything up to 5 books at once to get myself over the fact that I can be on one book for months!)
Up next is a book from another amazing woman who has got more dyselxic children reading than anyone else on the planet! The Casual Vacany by J.K Rowling. Her first adult book and I think an amazing read for teenagers as it has so many difficult issues dealt with in a truely story telling way that we have come to expect from this amazing author. You have true senstivity to the characters no mather what their situation, background or plight. The shear size of this book may put many dyselxics off but I infact read it surprisingly quickly!
Last up I'm going to include a dyslexic writer that has kept people reading books for generations. She is the one author I can always read even when I'm sick and finding everything else in the world impossible. There is a logic to her writing that suits our brains! Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot is always great but this Christmas story is particularly good. The first time I read it I was struggling to figure out who done it!
In case people didn't see my post a few weeks ago I also recommended the Fannie Flagg book a Red Bird Christmas.
Hard to find now in time for Christmas unless you are lucky enough to be living in America - but for everyone else keep in mind for next year! I read it every November as it reminds me of the first year I bought it living away from home waiting to go back for Christmas!
Dr Naoisé Expression Developist™
The Purple View Book Extract:
“Everything we do at The Homework Club is designed to create a learning environment that students can enjoy.”
In the initial interview I look for patterns in Life through sports, home and school. What you are really seeing is peoples natural tendencies. In an ideal World we shouldn’t realise that we’re learning at all. One of the difficulties that I have with the conventional system is that we try to stamp these out. A great example of this is the 4-year-old Kid who doesn’t read well but uses the pictures in the book to give them a sense of what the story is about. When someone covers over the pictures they take away this visual way of taking in information which is that natural tendency of a visual learner. So the next 3 chapters are going to talk about these 3 natural ingredients that everybody has - which are potential, personality and aptitude.
Blue represents a Person’s true nature and potential within. It’s seen to be the colour of faith, truth, confidence and being exceptionally deep in nature.
We use Red as it’s seen to be the colour of energy, happiness, passion, determination, love, power and desire. We tend to have very negative associations with personality expression in the conventional school model - the negative associations with red are anger. We see this side of the personality apparently when people feel constrained in their behaviour and self-expression.
We have now successfully combined potential, personalities and aptitudes into 4 simple ways of working. The next 3 sections in this book are going to describe the outcomes and amazing results that happen when you use this approach.
We use Yellow - Yellow is seen to be the colour of joy and intellect - we classically find people clever because of their skills - classically I believe we see people as “normal” when they have one of two multiply intelligence, linguistic or mathematical - these are what I generally assess. But I believe truly clever people have a grasp of their multiplicity. Your aptitudes alone are not enough to make you smart. You have to realise them and approach tasks in the best way for you.
The box - everyone has this idea that they would like to all “fit-in” and be the same as everyone else - it’s like a giant box we all belong to. So I decided with this method to create one “box” but the difference is that everyone is different in the box and has their own place. They can still be themselves while fitting in. I think of it more like a house with all the doors and windows open where everyone can just come on in - a box still seems a little constraining. But the yellow box in the middle of this picture is one where everyone can be happy as how they really are.
This yellow "box" for me is now the Expression Developist™ Concept, the next instalment of The Purple View that I am currently writing and will be available very shortly! Why we need a new objective in education.
In the mean time enjoy The Purple View. Link to The Purple View
Dr Naoisé O'Reilly (Expression Developist™)
Over the last 3 and 1/2 years at The Homework Club working with a range of students, including dyslexics of ages 5 right through to adult, I have noticed that dyslexic teenagers from the age of 12/13 upwards find it very hard to continue reading. They are put off by not being able to find a category of books to read. They have out grown "baby" books but are intimidated by adult literature.
As a severe dyslexic who's reading age is still very poor (way below adult levels!) but yet manages to read a multitude of fascinating books, I thought I would develop an on-line community Bookclub for dyslexics of all ages!
I didn't read my first book myself until I was 13 - it was too too late for me by then to read all the classic children's books, they had lost interest for me. The first book I read was The Day of the Jackal By Frederick Forsyth (I Just had to look up all the spelling here!) I think it took me at least 8 months to read and those people familiar with me and my blog will know that I now combat the boredom of taking too long to read a single book by reading many at the same time...
I guess it makes sense to start with some of the most recent books I have read:
It is a wonderful story of a boy starting traditional school who has not been to main stream school before as has been home schooled due to a very rare condition that has left him with a facial impairment.
This book is especially easy to read as it's written from the child's view, his sibling, school friends and his sister's boyfriend and so on.. It deals with everyone's fears of starting school, how to rise above bullies, how to just always be yourself - I have recommended it as a great read for all students starting second level this September!
I think this book will especially appeal to boys ..
My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall has a very simple story like quality that is easy to follow. Pictures of her adventures and life make the book an easy and fascinating read! Life can take you anywhere you want and in the most unusual ways... A great teenage read as it really builds confidence in anything in life being possible and to always follow your dreams and passions. She is keen to show us that each unique person can make a difference to the world. I would recommend it as a read for teenagers who haven't found their "thing" yet or school leavers who still feel lost...
For the Girls! Fannie Flagg
Daisy May and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg
This book is the first I read by Fannie Flagg and is a great easy introduction to her work. The story of Daisy who is a bit of a rebel.. who would win anyones heart. As a dyslexic herself Fannie Flagg understands the need to make her books readable and fun. The characters are always wonderful and her faith in human kind never wavers. She really tackles minority issues in a no-nonsense way.. in fact this is a book we have used at the school many a time to reach out to our own students.
Dr Naoisé O'Reilly (Expression Developist™)
One of the ways I found years ago to cope with the frustration of taking too long to read a book was to read several of them at the same time! This means I can jump about and not get bored - so at the moment I'm reading 5! - last count and all of them are whirling my brain in different ways...
Imagine, French Children don't throw food, My life with Chimpanzees, Quiet- The power of introverts, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Just don't ask me to read any of them out loud because I still can't read the words just the meaning!
So I'm writing the book for the Purple Learning Project at the moment.... in typical me style I want it done now as quickly as possible -I hate having any task hanging over me... I always find one of the biggest struggles for me is that my brain works at a much faster pace than my writing or typing speed - though I am more wizz like on a keyboard! I also have that awful dyslexic fear of the blank page - how do you begin to fill them up! Where do the words come from? How do you find different words to use?
My way to get around all this is to start with the images for each chapter - I've already got a drawing of how the book is going to fit together - the plan..this includes all structure within each chapter too - I always think the best thing to do is to try and find just one line that sums the whole thing up and then expand! There is at least one picture that sums up each section.. just describe these and your sorted. It's all very mathematical really - I think in patterns, visuals and how these all fit together.
Having someone to describe them all to who types it up also speeds it all up. I dictated all my college exams so I'm a dab hand at thinking off the top of my head onto paper. This also means that it will sound exactly like me talking...
I'll never understand why anyone would want to spend a year writing a book - that's my idea of hell!