Thursday, November 22, 2007

You thought you had problems

Writing is dificult enough for most of us, but if you're autistic it presents a different set of problems. Kevin Cann, himself autistic, has posted some thoughts on the issue, using his friend's blog to host the essay (18 November).

*
There has been much discussion in the UK recently about teaching children to read. Well, we've only had compulsory education for 135 years or so, and you will appreciate that it takes a while to sort out the best way of doing things.

Anyway, one good sign. Richard Morrison reports in the Times that, at a primary school known to him, on the edge of a 'troubled housing estate', some of the parents have been helping teacher along. In one class of 30, six of the kids have been taught to read and write well by their Mum and Dad. Er, except that they've been taught to read and write in Polish.

*
Now here's a pleasant surprise. An email arrives from Jyoti Guptara, one of the teenage Guptara twins who were mentioned here a year or so ago (end of the post) as authors of Conspiracy of Calaspia.

When I first mentioned them, the Guptara twins were lined up for publication in the UK by Aultbea; but that did not happen, so they remain unpublished here (or in the US). However, Conspiracy of Calaspia became a bestseller in India; and Mondadori, the largest Italian publisher, has bought rights to Books 1 - 3 in their epic fantasy saga Insanity. Rowohlt, a venerable German publisher, has not only paid a six-figure advance, but has announced that Calaspia will be the lead Young Adult novel in its 100th anniversary year, 2008. The book will be released in March at the Leipzig Book Fair with a first print run of 100,000 copies.

Not bad, eh? The twins have several web sites, including, of course, one on MySpace, but start here.

*
By the way, those of you who read a great deal on-screen may be glad of a tip that I came across a year or two ago. Right click on the Windows desktop, then go properties>appearance tab>effects. In the dialog box, tick 'Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts' and select Clear Type.

To my eye, this makes screen type easier to read, and I have not found any disadvantages.

*
The second book in Thomas Quinn's Venetian series will be out on 10 December. St Martins Press is the publisher and Barnes and Noble are pushing it. The Sword of Venice offers historical derring-do, war between Venice and the Ottoman Empire, intrigues of the powerful papacy, conflict between the Ziani and Soranzo families, and so forth.

35 comments:

Gladys Hobson said...

I recall being taught to read by sounding the letters 70 years ago! e being like a little mouth saying eee and c a mouth with a crumb in its throat… and so on. No fancy equipment and large classes.
I may not have been a brilliant teacher but one thing I excelled in was teaching young children to read. By the time the reception children moved up a class they knew their sounds and could identify the look-and-say key words.
No one teaching method is enough and, although parents can help by encouraging reading, the actual job of teaching reading skills must be the responsibility of the school. 'Fun learning' as a class (fun games with the teacher using the blackboard, and reading sentences on pictures around the room), in groups using letter, sounds and word recognition 'apparatus' and individual reading to the teacher — daily for children with problems. At one private school, older infants benefitted from group and whole class reading together - following the words of their books, along the lines with a finger.
How awful! Terrible! Wicked! blackboard? - shocking!
I was so confident in my methods that when I had a class of young juniors at a school in a deprived area, I asked to have a hearing test for those children who were not making the progress I expected of them. In each case there was a hearing problem to a greater or lesser degree. The results corresponded with the particular sounds they were having difficulty with.
Of course, some children will progress quicker than others according to intelligence and encouragement from parents and siblings, (some children can read very well before they go to school) and written work is all part of the learning process. But it is my opinion that the teacher, and her enthusiasm, is at the heart of good teaching, and no amount of interference by politicians as to what method teachers must use will improve things. Children are individuals and learn accordingly.

Andy O'Hara said...

Excellent essay by Kevin Cann. "I am just as uncomfortable in the role of cosmic seer as I am in the role of poop-throwing primate."

If only politicians had that kind of insight.

Simon Haynes said...

On the subject of improving readability, cleartype helps but it's much better if you change your fonts from 96 to 120dpi. This setting is tucked away, but I've written a set of instructions you'll find here:

http://www.spacejock.com/Setup120dpi.html

The problem is that modern screens are huge, but fonts have remained tiny. This setting really does help.

(Also, in Firefox you can set a minimum font size. I use 15, which is ideal on my 1400x1050 screen.)

Hope that helps.

Jim Murdoch said...

Clear Type is normally turned on as default in Windows. If it is not, or to check, this is what you need to do in Windows Vita:

Right click desktop
Click on Personalize
Click on Windows Color and Appearance
Click on Open classic appearance properties for more options
Click on Effects button
Select Clear Type from the pulldown menu if not already selected
Check the box marked Use the following methods to smooth edges of screen fonts
Click OK

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Dominic Took said...

I'm dyslexic and I self published in the end, to Uk industry standards.

My book The Storms of Acias was impossible to get published and ofcourse it does have its own style, mainly owing to my Dyslexia.

There are other published mainstream dyslexic authors out there i'm glad to say, but we certainly number the few.

As with everything i just keep sending my books out and in the meantime, continue plugging storms, see www.dominictook.com

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Accessories said...

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book publisher said...

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