Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Reading Rules We Would Never Follow as Adult Readers

Yes (many times yes…)
I am a huge proponent of critical reflection and teach this as a subject within all my subjects (to adults), but i have seen how we can turn children off their individual relationships with reading, creative thinking & play, dreaming (ahhh) and so on… why can’t they just find someone to talk to about it – if they want to? reading is a special, internal joy that, much like home-made jokes, tends to lose something in the telling, unless others are excited about the stories / ideas in them as much as we are, brimming over with the desire to share ‘the best bits’ and the howlers, the fun of it all, the intimacy of our thoughts and feelings nurtured or protected… choice is a fundamental issue in learning: if i am not excited by one book / play / topic / tv programme / film, then if there is not a promise of hidden treasure(s) or of the ‘next’ one being a potential corker, its hard to get and keep motivated, interested – but that’s me firing off the first thing i thought of in response to this clever and passionate post, not a rounded argument or the like, just someone with dyslexia and beyond who is a great, if uneven, reader with concentration issues 🙂

Why is it alright to impose rules on children's reading lives that we would never follow as adults?


The number one thing all the students I have polled through the years want the most when it comes to reading.  No matter how I phrase the question, this answer in all of its versions is always at the top.  Sometimes pleading, sometimes demanding, sometimes just stated as a matter of fact; please let us choose the books we want to read.

Yet, how often is this a reality for the students we teach?  How often, in our eagerness to be great teachers, do we remove or disallow the very things students yearn for to have meaningful literacy experiences?  How many of the things we do to students would we never put up with ourselves?  In our quest to create lifelong readers, we seem to be missing some very basic truths about what makes a reader.  So what are the rules we would probably not always follow ourselves?


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You, yes you, need Autistic friends

Thirty Days of Autism

The following is a guest post by of  Radical Neurodivergence Speaking

Intended audience: parents of Autistic kids. Though obviously everyone needs Autistic friends.

So your child was just diagnosed with autism. Breathe. Breathe deeper. Relax. It’ll all be ok. But you have some work to do.

The first thing you need to do isn’t find therapists. It isn’t commiserate with other parents. It isn’t become an AAC expert (though all of these things have their place!). It’s something not in the autism introduction packet: you need to connect on a human level with adults like your child. You need to go make some Autistic friends.

I don’t mean a mentoring relationship, though those are extremely important and I am a big fan of mentoring (and mentoring your child & being friends with you are not mutually exclusive). I definitely don’t mean “translate my child to me” (which…

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The One Thing that Made the Biggest Difference (According to My Students)

yes, i agree: it is a challenge to start & keep going, but continuing to read can (incrementally) give us the hugest pleasure, to master and start relishing stories, ideas, visions and get lost in other worlds – we may be dyslexic / neurodivergent readers, but if we can read things we want to know about, enjoy and can relate to, emotionally as well as intellectually, what powers of imagination and creativity may be released – along with the most important development of self-confidence and raised self-esteem. its not easy, though, but what is easy, that we really value? relationships? learning to ride a bike or drive? travelling across continents? in my case not dropping my lunch / drink down my front / keyboard or forgetting the book in the first place… just low-level skills that get in the way sometimes, i swat them away like a fly these days, and concentrate on the things i value, whilst learning or re-learning new things and skills. for example, i got back on my bike last weekend after a lengthy absence due to having broken my wrist & other mishaps – scary, exhilarating and back-aching, but i am so happy with myself for doing it, for ‘feeling that fear and doing it anyway’, and the enjoyment of it – life is good for the moment, then 🙂 Lots of challenges coming my way now, as for everyone else, i’m sure (but these are things that previously I had seen as ‘threats’ / worries / and too scared to take them on)… oh the uneven nature of life, learning & doing (laughed at that: it almost sounds intelligent – time to stop, then!) 🙂

I asked my students what made the biggest difference. I  asked them what I should tell other educators as I ready myself for speaking this summer, honored to be invited to so many great states.  I asked them what they wished every teacher would do, if they had to pick one thing, what would it be?  Answer after answer, paper upon paper, they told me their one thing.  And while I wasn’t surprised, I had not expected it to be so frequent.  I had not expected it to show up on so many independently answered surveys.  I had not expected it to be the ONE thing so many times.

Please tell them to give us time to read.  Please allow us at least 10 minutes.  Please tell us to read.  Tell us to read only great books.  Give us the time so we can fall back in love.

The time; that…

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