“When I was 12 my older sister had recently discovered Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. She started to read it to me once a day, however, the story was so gripping that once a day was just not enough for me. The exciting and alluring nature of Rowling’s writing drove me to pick up a book for the first time.

I was amazed at how she was able to incorporate such complex themes and ideas into her books, but still write in a style that I could understand.

It was challenging at first. I blundered my way through the pages, stumbling over words, often not understanding the meaning. But I was so desperate to find out what happened next that I forced myself to get through, book after book. The more I read the faster I was getting. I enjoyed reading Harry Potter so much that I found it was giving me confidence in other aspects of my life.”  Read all of Stephanie Wickens’ story here.

Stephanie is not the only dyslexic reader to have a Harry Potter-breakthrough. None other than Princess Beatrice has claimed the same benefit.

Why can certain books hook some dyslexic students into becoming more fluent readers?

For Premium Subscribers, well explore why students can comprehend better if they get hooked on certain books as well as share some practical strategies for school and home.

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How Do Many Successful Adult Dyslexics Become Readers?   INTEREST.

hooked on a bookShort answer: They got hooked on a book.

From Rosalie Fink’s research into accomplished dyslexics:

“I learned that the 60 men and women succeeded as readers and as professionals by following their own interests and passions. Driven by curiosity and a passion for knowledge, they read avidly (although slowly) to find out more about their topic of interest, engaging in what Jeanne Chall called “reading to learn”. Their own fascination drove them to read, experiment, and pursue a career that intrigued them.

Reading success and career success were often intertwined.

Ronald W. Davis (biochemist):

I became fascinated with nitrogen chemistry. So the way to understand that was to start reading chemistry books. So I got organic chemistry books and read as many as I could find.

James Bensinger (physicist):

I knew certainly as early as fifth grade that physics was what I wanted to do. So I did a lot of reading. You know, I read magazines and books and just spent a lot of time, just reading about physics.

These men and women were “turned on” to their topic, whether it was biology, physics, or psychology. Their imaginations took flight as they discovered their own interests and found books and hands-on activities that excited them. They pursued fields of interest that engaged their imagination so much that they experienced what Csziksentmihalyi calls flow — the exhilarating feeling of being carried away on a current. While reading, they were so engrossed that they seemed to “get lost” in good books. This total immersion based on involvement and enjoyment resulted in a loss of self-consciousness that was liberating and exciting, both intellectually and emotionally.”

curiosity-memoryIt turns out that curiosity activates a network of areas in the brain that include memory centers, reward areas, and researchers found that study “participants showed improved memory for information that they were curious about and for incidental material learned during states of high curiosity…and highlight the importance of stimulating curiosity to create more effective learning experiences.” Dyslexic students as a group seem to be very curious learners (it goes hand-in-hand with creativity), so placing a priority on high interest can make everything work more productively. Dyslexic students also tend to be high conceptual, so starting with an interesting question or concept first, then diving into reading can improve reading comprehension more than any step-by-step reading plan.

Research from classrooms also supports just how important intrinsic motivation is boosting reading comprehension.  The CORI approach (Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction) exposes students to the [embedyt][/embedyt]concepts behind non-fiction reading before in-depth reading takes place.

Activities that help Concept-Oriented Reading:

– Hands-on Activities
– Information Books
– Subtopics for investigation
– Frequent reading
– Questioning
– Collaboration

For general tips on encourage kids to read, check out the Tips article below.