‘It was pretty tricky growing up with dyslexia, because I thought I was clever, and I know that sounds like a silly thing to say, but I didn’t think I was stupid. Yet I obviously was stupid because I couldn’t read or write. I seemed like a bright little girl but all that brightness could never come out because I couldn’t spell anything. So the cat always sat on the mat, it never did anything else, and the day was always sunny, it could be nothing else because I couldn’t spell anything else.’
Sally Gardner is a talented and successful children’s author. She also has dyslexia. Her article in the Guardian is a reminder of the frustrations that face children and young people who don’t make that easy confident leap from hesitant decoding to reading for pleasure.
Stuck in the foothills of reading, they are sophisticates in a land of Lilliputians. They know that tigers can be camouflaged in dense vegetation but for them, ‘the cat always sat on the mat, it never did anything else.’ They are judged on a skill not on their knowledge.
If teachers do nothing else this Dyslexia Week, respect the innate intelligence of children who struggle with reading. For at least a few hours each week let their imagination and vocabulary soar.