Friday, September 13, 2019

How Libraries Can Help People With Dyslexia

As librarians, we are always trying to make sure that our libraries and resources are accessible and usable by all patrons. While we often focus on visible disabilities - are the aisles wide enough for a wheelchair? Do we have audio and large print titles for those who have visual issues? While these are wonderful things to consider, I wanted to take 5 minutes to talk about a less obvious disability that people live with every day.

Did you know that about 10% of the population has dyslexia?

What Is It?

First of all, let's define "dyslexia." In general terms, dyslexia is a learning difference that presents in a cluster of symptoms, any or all of which may be present. These include:
  • Mental rotation of letters or difficulty differentiating similar letters such as b, d, p, and q
  • Phonological awareness and phonological decoding, or which letters make which sounds
  • Slower processing speed of written (and sometimes auditory) material
  • Letters seeming to "jump around" on the page
  • Spacing of letters being inconsistent, so words crowd together or drift apart on the page
There is a good overview of dyslexia here.

The Mayo Clinic explains that effects of having this disorder can include:

  • Trouble learning - since reading is a skill on which many other subjects are based, a child with dyslexia may fall behind their peers.
  • Social problems - trouble learning and keeping up with peers may lead to low self-esteem, behavioral issues, anxiety, and aggression.
  • Problems as Adults - If untreated, these problems can compound over time, and leave a person unable to reach their full potential. 

Ready for an example? Take a look at this website, which was designed to simulate what it's like to try to read with dyslexia. (Some people say it is a very accurate depiction; others disagree. Not every person experiences this the same way.)

What Helps?

Okay! We know what it is. Now, how can the library help?

Accessible Signage

Let's start with the easiest thing we can do. ALA has some great ideas on how to make your library more accessible for people with dyslexia (these tips are written for the children's room specifically, but they can be helpful for everybody). One of the things they suggest is to make sure that you use pictograms when possible (for example, an image of a toilet on the restroom sign). Use clear, easy-to-read shelf signs and aisle markers.
If you have room, try to place books facing outward when on display (reading spine labels sideways can be very difficult!). When making fliers, try to left-justify your text and not leave hyphenated words straddling two lines. You can also make sure that you write things using an easily-readable font.


The font you use can make a big difference in making something accessible to someone with dyslexia.

According to the University of Michigan, "good fonts for people with dyslexia are Helvetica, Courier, Arial, [and] Verdana." They also comment that, "Arial Italic should be avoided since it decreases readability."

Did you know that there's a special font that makes things easier to read? It's called Open Dyslexic, and it is specially designed to make things easier for people to process. The bottom of the letters is a bit thicker than the tops, making it easier to differentiate each letter from others that are similar. As the website states, the font "was intended to address: contrast/blindness, letter confusion or rotation, and crowding."

So, are we supposed to own every book in a dyslexic-accessible font? If only we had that kind of funding! But it's okay, because we have some exciting news for you:

That's right! If you can get it as an e-book, you can read it in Open Dyslexic font! OverDrive has this available, and therefore so do Libby and Sora. If you are using Hoopla, they have this listed under "fonts" as "Dyslexic Support."

All you have to do is open your book, click on the font options, and you can switch! This will remain as your default any time you read with this platform. (It is also worth a mention that some studies have shown that using a black font on a "not quite white background" makes it easier to read, as well. Luckily, you can adjust background color, too.)

While purchasing every title in an accessible font is cost prohibitive, please note that this font is free to download, and can easily be used on fliers.

As a side note, some books - particularly for children - already come in a dyslexic-friendly font. Notably, the Here's Hank series by Henry Winkler is published with this font, which is particularly helpful because the main character (and the author, too!) has dyslexia.

Reading Guides

Image result for dyslexia page rulers
No, not book lists (though those could be useful, too). I'm talking about colored page overlays, also known as "reading rulers" or "highlight strips." These are transparent, colored pieces of plastic that a reader can place over a page. The change in color helps the words to stay grounded on the page, and the horizontal line helps to keep the reader on the correct sentence.
I found some on Amazon that come in a variety of sizes, to help people of all ages who might need it. They are inexpensive and can help a great deal.

Graphic Novels

One of the problems that people with dyslexia can have is reading comprehension - which makes perfect sense when the words won't stay put! Yale University recommends graphic novels for people with dyslexia, because the images provide context clues to the text, which can help both with the reading and the processing. (We recommend the graphic novel version of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan - Percy himself is dyslexic!)

Information About Dyslexia

This may be common sense, but we're going to put it out there, anyway. Make sure you have information about dyslexia that is accessible for people of all ages, as well as parents or caregivers who help children with the learning difference.

In Conclusion

Can you think of any other steps libraries can take to help people with dyslexia? What has worked for you? Let us know here in the comments, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Ready to Go Book Display: Magic

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. This month we are featuring some (non-Harry Potter) books featuring magic. 

Recommendations for Adults:

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (Jun 1995)
The story of two sisters, Gillian and Sally Owens, brought up by their elderly guardian aunts in a small New England town. The aunts possess magic they they in turn hand down to their nieces.

Set in an Oz where a morose Wizard battles suicidal thoughts, the story of the green-skinned Elphaba, otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West, profiles her as an animal rights activist striving to avenge her dear sister's death.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Sep 2011)
Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Feb 2011)
Discovering a magical manuscript in Oxford's library, scholar Diana Bishop, a descendant of witches who has rejected her heritage, inadvertently unleashes a fantastical underworld of daemons, witches and vampires whose activities center around an enchanted treasure.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Aug 2009)
Harboring secret preoccupations with a magical land he read about in a childhood fantasy series, Quentin Coldwater is unexpectedly admitted into an exclusive college of magic and rigorously educated in modern sorcery.

Recommendations for Teens:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Mar 2018)
Coming of age in a land where her magi mother was killed by the zealous king's guards along with other former wielders of magic, Zelie embarks on a journey alongside her brother and a fugitive princess to restore her people's magical abilities.

The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil (Apr 2018)
Told from two viewpoints, Sophia, seventeen, a Sri-Lankan-Australian math prodigy with social anxiety, is panicking about her future when classmate and amateur magician Joshua proclaims his love for her.

These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling (May 2019)
When evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, Massachusetts, Elemental Witch Hannah and her ex-girlfriend Veronica are forced to team up to stop the deadly attacks.

History is filled with stories of women accused of witchcraft, of fearsome girls with arcane knowledge. This collection features fifteen stories of girls embracing their power, reclaiming their destinies and using their magic to create, to curse, to cure -and to kill.

Hocus Pocus & The All-New Sequel by A.W. Jantha (Jul 2018)
After accidentally bringing the Sanderson Sisters back from the dead, Max, Dani, and Allison race to stop their plans to torment Salem for all of eternity; then twenty-five years later it is up to Max and Allison's daughter to stop the Sanderson's newest scheme.

Recommendations for Children:

Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris (Nov 2017)
Six young magicians and illusionists team up to save their small town from a crooked carnival owner and his goons.

The Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne (Jul 1992)
Eight-year-old Jack and his younger sister Annie find a magic treehouse which whisks them back to an ancient time zone where they see live dinosaurs.

Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk (Jul 2018)
When she and her friends are placed in different classes and begin exploring separate interests at the start of seventh grade, Danny inherits a magic sketchbook and uses it to create a perfect best friend, with unexpected results. 

Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan (Apr 2016)
Thorn, a boy sold into slavery who must serve the royalty of Castle Gloom for a year and a day to earn his freedom, and Lilith Shadow, the 13-year-old ruler of Gehenna, who is forbidden to practice the magic that is her heritage, join forces to solve the murders taking place in Gehenna.

Mary Poppins by Amy Novesky (Oct 2018)
Based on Travers' 1934 classic, a picture-book adaptation traces the story of how a magical nanny is blown into the Cherry Tree Lane home of the Banks children, who accompany her on fantastical adventures.

Milo's Hat Trick by Jon Agee (Apr 2001)
After failing to perform any good magic tricks during his show, Milo is close to losing his job, but while searching for a rabbit in the woods, Milo encounters a clever bear and quickly decides to use him for his next great trick.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Posting Update

Hello Dear Readers,

Thank you for your support and dedication to our blog. We apologize that the past two months we haven't been giving you consistent content. It is a joy for us to write for you but alas, life has thrown many challenges our way. We have decided to officially take a break from posting for the rest of the summer and we will return the first Friday in September. (Well, except next week when Allie shares her book display recommendations for August. Bonus content for you!)

Good luck with summer reading! Be kind to yourselves, it is the craziest time of the year. We will miss you and look forward to returning in a few weeks.

Jess, Kat and Allie

Friday, July 19, 2019

Ready to Go Book Display: Binge Books

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. TV shows aren't the only thing you can binge!

Recommendations for Adults:

Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond (Feb 2019)

Set before the events of Stranger Things, this prequel novel follows Eleven's mother and her time as a test subject in the MKUltra program. 

The Handmaid's Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood and Renee Nault (Mar 2019)

A graphic novel adaptation based on Margaret Atwood's best-selling novel.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Sep 2019)

In this sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

Game of Thrones: The Storyboards by Will Simpson (May 2019)

This collection features storyboard art for Seasons 1-7 of Game of Thrones.

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way (Jul 2008)

In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born by women who had previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, "To save the world."

The first book in an original mystery series featuring twenty-eight-year-old Veronica Mars, back in action after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie.

Recommendations for Teens:

Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down by Gina McIntyre (Oct 2018)

Viewers can now immerse themselves in the world - or worlds - of Hawkins, Indiana, like never before.

Stranger Things: Runaway Max by Brenna Yovanoff (Jun 2019)

Explores Max Mayfield's past in California, and provides her perspective of making friends in Hawkins, Indiana.

Riverdale: The Day Before by Micol Ostow (Dec 2018)

Explores the lives of the teenagers of Riverdale before their sophomore year in high school, from Jughead and Archie's falling out and Betty's growing feelings for Archie to Veronica's life in New York City.

Riverdale: All New Stories by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Oct 2017)

The first collection of the comic book set in the universe of the TV series.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Sarah Rees Brennan (Jul 2019)

This prequel YA novel tells an all-new original story based on the Netflix series.

Slayer by Kiersten White (Jan 2019)

Set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first book in this series introduces our new slayer as she grapples with incredible power she is just beginning to understand.

Recommendations for Children:

Help Jughead Jones find the food hidden throughout the book.

Bob Ross and Peapod the Squirrel by Robb Pearlman and Bob Ross (Oct 2019)

The sweet story of painter Bob Ross, who helps his squirrel friend find the perfect home to live in.

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Sesame Street, beloved picture-book artists have each created an artwork interpreting a different line from "Sunny Day," the iconic Sesame Street theme song.

When Mazu, Rocky, Bill and Tiny - four young dinosaur friends - set off on a Gigantosaurus hunt, they're in for a wild adventure.

Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego? by Rebecca Tinker (Jan 2019)

For decades, people have asked the question: Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? But just who is this infamous and elusive globe-trotting thief?

After the sudden death of their parents, the three Baudelaire children must depend on each other and their wits when it turns out that the distant relative who is appointed their guardian is determined to use any means necessary to get their fortune.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Ready to Go Book Display: Back to School

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. Even though we are knee deep in summer reading we are featuring books for back to school.

Recommendations for Adults:

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (Jul 2019)
A previously happy group of friends and parents are nearly destroyed by their own competitiveness when an exclusive school for gifted children opens in the community.

The authors take us beyond the hype of reform and inside some of America's most innovative classrooms to show what is working - and what isn't.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen (Feb 2019)
A moving account of the extraordinary teenage survivors of Parkland who became activists and pushed back against the NRA and Congressional leaders - inspiring millions of Americans to join their grassroots #neveragain movement.

A smart, snappy, and comprehensive guide for the millions of adults who are thinking about going - or going back - to college and want to know how to do it right.

Recommendations for Teens:

Wilder Girls by Rory Power (Jul 2019)
Left to fend for themselves when their island boarding school is quarantined, three best friends watch their teachers die before their fellow students begin succumbing to feral violence, a situation that is further complicated when one of them goes missing.

The Academy by Katie Sise (May 2018)
After messing up one too many times, Frankie Brooks, a future fashion editor, finds herself at military school where she must learn how to cope with the impossible military drills and specialized classes.

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki (Apr 2015)
At a prep school for superheroes, mutants, and witches, paranormal abilities take a backseat to normal teen concerns.

Recommendations for Children:

The Pigeon Has to Go to School! by Mo Willems (Jul 2019)
The Pigeon throws a fit over his worries about the first day of school, from heavy backpacks to finger paint on his feathers.

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Jul 2019)
A story about a confident little boy who takes pride in his first day of kindergarten, encouraging new students with a reassuring message about this exciting milestone.

My First Day of School by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (Jul 2019)
An introduction for young readers to the milestone experiences of the first day of school, featuring a diverse assortment of students meeting their teacher, making new friends, and more.

First Day of Groot! by Brendan Deneen and Cale Atkinson (Jul 2019)
Follow Rocket and Groot as they set off across the galaxy learning new lessons, developing new skills, and making new memories with friends along the way.

So Big! by Mike Wohnoutka (Jul 2019)
A simple, clever text paired with adorable animal characters makes school-day jitters seem not so big after all.

The School Book by Todd Parr (Jul 2019)
A introduction on all the things you can do at school.

If I Built a School by Chris Van Dusen (Aug 2019)
A boy fantasizes about his dream school - from classroom to cafeteria to library and playground.

My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown (Jun 2019)
Finding school boring and believing his teacher to be a robot, young Fred tries to think of ways to make his day more exciting, from pretending the classroom is filled with dinosaurs to imagining that tests are being mandated by an evil overlord.

Phoenix Goes to School by Michelle and Phoenix Finch (Jul 2018)
With encouragement from her mother, teacher, and a fellow student, Phoenix, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female, finds the courage to face the first day of school.

Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can't Go to School! by Christina Geist and Tim Bowers (Jul 2019)
This fun role-reversal picture book will help reluctant students see the appeal of school.

The 47 People You'll Meet in Middle School by Kristin Mahoney (Aug 2019)
Discover the ins and outs of middle school in this guide from an older sister to her younger sister.

Shadow School #1: Archimancy by J.A. White (Aug 2019)
Sixth-graders Cordelia, Agnes, and Benji go on a quest to unravel the secrets of Shadow School.

As summer comes to an end, Mr. Peanuts helps his friend, Rosie prepare her classroom and the school for the students' return.