If you’re not familiar with dyslexia it can be simplified down to difficulties with reading and spelling, although this is reducing a very complex learning difficulty into a few words and by no means does the challenges it creates justice.
Rather surprisingly, about half the people on my degree were dyslexic, myself included. For context I did my undergraduate degree in creative and professional writing, so not the place you’d expect to find a bunch of dyslexic people.
As expected, a degree program with writing in the title also came with a lot of reading, something I know that many of us struggled with, but we made it though and even after we graduated many of us remain to be avid readers.
After many conversations with my peers about it, there are a few tips that have helped us that I can pass on in the hope of helping someone else with dyslexia with their reading journey.
Find Books You Will Enjoy
We’re starting with the basics and that is to read books you actually enjoy.
Now I understand this isn’t always possible if you’re in education (there were many books during my degree that I simply did not want to read) but when it comes to casual reading for your own enjoyment, read books you like. If you find by a third of a way through that you’re not enjoying it, put it down and try something else.
When you’re reading a book that truly interests you, you’re more likely to pick it up and engage with that content. When reading comes with challenges, don’t waste your time and energy in something you don’t enjoy.
Work out Which Reading Environment Works for You
Personally, I can’t read when I’m in a noisy environment. There have been many times where I’ve been reading in the Livingroom and someone has come in and put the TV on and that’s it, my beloved reading time is over. However, this isn’t the case for everyone.
I know plenty of people who have to have background music when reading, whether that’s Lo-Fi, Pop or even country music. Others like to listen to white noise or sit in a coffee shop with the ambiance (that’s also a favourite of mine). The point I’m making is don’t expect yourself to be able to sit down and engage with a book in every environment. Do some experimenting and see what you prefer – there’s no right or wrong way.
Reading Age Isn’t That Big of a Deal
Oh how I wish someone had told me this earlier.
Throughout primary school my number one goal was to get to the top reading level as fast as I could each year. Then when I started my degree I felt the pressure to only been seen reading ‘intellectual’ books…whatever that meant.
Suddenly things weren’t as fun. At the end of a long day when I was tired I didn’t want to pick up a challenging read but I felt that I had to because that’s what adults do right? They read intellectual books.
This silly mindset fell apart when I was trying to get through reading my partners favourite childhood books, I wanted to see what books had shaped his childhood. I ended up reading the Artemis Fowl series and loved it. Reading these books were so much easier and that got me thinking.
At the end of the day does it really matter what the recommended reading age for a book is. If you want to read YA books at the age of 65, go ahead. If reading children’s fiction is more enjoyable and easier to digest, then go for it. In the grand scheme of things does it really matter what age demographic a book is for as long as it brings you joy?
Audio Books Count
Yes, yes this will make some people grumpy but come on now, there are bigger things in the world to be upset with then me saying audio books still count as books.
If you find listening to audiobooks a more accessible way of consuming a story then go ahead! Books shouldn’t be a chore so why force yourself into consuming them in a medium that doesn’t work for you?
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I’m a slow reader and you know what, I will probably always be one.
In my first year of university I was deeply self conscious of this and put pressure on myself to speed up. I learned to skim read and whilst that helped a little, it was still something I stressed about. So it wasn’t surprising when the stress added up and my dyslexia got worse.
It was only when I stopped comparing myself to those around me and let myself read at my own pace that things started to improve. Comparison sucks, we all know this and we also all know it’s something that we shouldn’t really participate in.
Dyslexia is hard for the book lover so give yourself a break and take things at your own pace. There’s no rule that says you have to read at X speed and read 30 books a year, reading should be fun so let it be that.
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