For those who read with ease, understanding those who can’t is difficult to comprehend. What is taken for granted as a leisure activity is arduous, taxing and mentally straining. As a result, those who struggle to read will avoid it whenever they can.
I know this because I am of the group that struggled to ready. I took it for granted that reading caused a headache and made me sleepy. I thought everyone had to read the same line over and over to understand what was being said. I thought those who read to relax had learnt how to cope with the side effects better than I had. That turned out not to be the case.
I was diagnosed with Irlens at the ripe old age of 41. My daughter was first prescribed tinted glasses because of her struggles at school. I thought it would be fun to see how I faired as many of the symptoms she complained about, I had. Turned out I was at the more severe end of the spectrum. Words floated off the page, rivers of colour flowed between the lines of text and words would blur together. This, as I was told was not dyslexia, but the brains poor attempt to filter colour.
It begs the question, what would life of been like if this diagnosis had been available when I was school age? Perhaps school would not have been the struggle it was. Perhaps I would have been perceived as being someone with potential rather than being told I had none. Perhaps I would have been pushed rather than being told there was no point trying. Perhaps my life could have been led without the constant expectation of failure.
There was however an upside that I am only now taking more advantage of. Because I struggled to read, I learnt to lean through sight and through oral methods. I was more perceptive, latching on to what people were saying and learning how to join the dots.
For me, books are laborious. Chapters go on for ages because I read so slowly. I’m getting better now as the brain is re-trained, but I will never be a speed reader. The sense of progress is glacial, especially when I see how fast my family can chew through a book.
With my wife working as a school librarian, I heard more and more about the struggling readers and her search for books that could help get them hooked. There was a gap between very basic children’s and more robust novels that would deter the book phobic. What we sought was a book that used simple language but offered a story line that would excite and engage the target group of boys. She saw that with my experiences, I could create something for this targeted group to help them understand the benefits reading brings.
Through this process Ace Harvey was created. It is a book series (yes, there will be more) that has really short chapters so kids feel as though they are making progress. The language is simple with no large, confusing words. The plot is easy to understand and moves along really quickly to make it interesting. Enter the genre of high interest, low vocabulary.
Ace Harvey is at its, core a sci-fi adventure for children. I love science fiction because there are less boundaries and the creativity is enhanced. Like many children my age, I was enthralled by Thunderbirds, Dr Who, Blakes 7, Star Trek and of course, Star Wars. They created whole new worlds and filled them with fantastic creatures, technology and colour. It was and continues to be the most wonderful escapism. So, I combined my love of sci-fi with a love of animals and the classic good versus bad dynamic. There is no violence and characters are not being shot or otherwise harmed. A fundamental sub-plot is being able to solve problems in the face of adversity without resorting to violence.
If your child reads this and wants more – perfect! Please let me know as all feedback, good and bad is helpful.
Click here to view on Amazon.