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Music is something which is part of our daily lives.  We often choose to listen to music for enjoyment or relaxation.  Music also plays an important part in our favourite films and television shows.  Whilst looking for books involving music for this book blog I also found that there are books which use singing to help you learn Phonics, French and even Maths!  No matter what your musical ability hopefully there will be a book in this month’s book blog you will enjoy.

The Singing Mermaid by Julia Donaldson   Illustrated by Lydia Monks     Age 3 and above

A mermaid who leaves her home at Silversands beach to join the circus soon realises her mistake.  Audiences are flocking to hear her sing but she wants to escape from her tank and return to the ocean.

Little Fin the Singing Fish by Daren King    Illustrated by Gill Guile            Age 3 and above

Little Fin wants to join the band but there aren’t any instruments left for her to play.  Fortunately she finds that there is a way to make music and join in with her friends. 

Amelia the Singing Fairy by Daisy Meadows        Age 6 and above

Amelia’s magic star has gone missing.  Unless she can find it again no one in Tippington will be able to sing in tune!  Will the star be found or will the Tippington Valley Show end in disaster?

Ada’s violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood              Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport          Age 5 and above

A true story of the children of Catuera Paraguay who play in an orchestra with instruments made from other people’s rubbish.  Favio Chavez, a music teacher, was able to bring hope and innovation and change the town forever.

Rock War by Robert Muchamore          Age 11 and above

Jay, Summer and Dylan all have different reasons for joining the band.  They must all overcome their different challenges to perform at ‘Rock Wars’.  Will they win the prize they are dreaming of?  Only if they all get to the competition on time!

You don’t know me by Sophia Bennett                Age 11 and above

When Sasha and Rose make it to the finals of the TV show ‘Killer Act’ they are not expecting the TV show’s judges to make them choose between fame and friendship.  Will their friendship survive?

The Wind Singer by William Nicholson   Age 10 and above

An ancient statue stands in the town square of Aramanth.  It has been silent for years but in times gone by it made music whenever the wind blew.  Kestrel has rebelled against the city elders and she knows the only way to release her family from their punishment is to restore the voice of the Wind Singer.  A challenging  journey awaits her.

Dork Diaries: Pop Star by Rachel Renee Russell  Age 7 and above

The third book in the Dork Diaries series sees Nikki aiming to win her school’s talent show by singing and dancing with her friends.  Can Nikki win when the most popular girl in school, Mackenzie, is also taking part?

Liquidator by Andy Mulligan      Age 11 and above

The exciting launch of ‘Liquidator’ a brand new energy drink is due to take place as part of a huge international rock concert.  One of Vicky’s friends is even set to perform at the conference.  When the truth about the drink is accidentally uncovered by Vicky and her friends they must sabotage the conference to save the world!

Dive bombing by Bernard Ashley             Age 11 and above

15 year old Charlie Peat’s life just seems to get more and more complicated.  His guitarist father is on tour with his band in Trajanov, where terrorist attacks are an everyday occurrence.  Charlie’s decision to stay in the family home rather than with his grandparents leads to the terrorism of Trajanov being an experience far closer to home.

Can you recommend any books with a musical focus?  Read a book from this month’s book blog and let us know what you think.  What you would like future book blogs to focus on?  We would love to hear from you – you could even send us a musical message!


Shadow minister for Public Health Sharon Hodgson MP has been elected as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties.

Sharon, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and former Shadow for Children and Families, takes the helm of this influential cross-party group of MPs and Peers from former Chair, Kelvin Hopkins MP.

Commenting on her new post, Sharon said: “Following my own personal experiences as a mother of a child with severe dyslexia and campaigning throughout my time as a Member of Parliament on special educational needs and disability issues, both from the backbenches and on the frontbench, I am honoured that my fellow Parliamentarians have put their trust in me to continue the excellent work of the out-going Chair, Kelvin Hopkins and chair this cross-party group.

“Supporting children, young people and adults with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties has always been a cause close to my heart. Whilst there have been some important steps forward in provision in recent years, especially for children and young people with the roll-out of reforms in the Children and Families Act 2014, there is still a need to make sure that these reforms are ensuring that children and young people are getting the best deal possible to ensure they can grow up to be successful adults, and I hope to push forward on this agenda as Chair of this important APPG.”

Dyslexia Action is the Secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dyslexia and other SpLDs, whose members consist of MPs and Peers who want to keep up-to-date with issues affecting children, young people and adults with specific learning difficulties including dyslexia.

The group is committed to understanding learning difficulties including dyslexia across the UK and to keep Government appraised of the situation in schools and education in general. The group, which must meet at least twice during its reporting year (as from 2015), also looks at what statutory and non-statutory bodies are achieving in this field.

Further details about the group including officers, agendas and minutes can be found on Dyslexia Action’s designated APPG page.



Boutique cinema chain Everyman will celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week by screening Dyslexia Action’s animation film that depicts what it can feel like to have dyslexia.


From today, for one week, the film clip will be shown in cinemas nationwide in a bid to raise awareness about the importance of identifying dyslexia.


Grateful for such a prestigious opportunity to raise public awareness around dyslexia, national charity Dyslexia Action believes the showcasing will help build greater understanding and empathy of this learning difficulty among Everyman viewers.


Renowned for its quality service, Everyman is one of the fastest growing independent cinema networks in the UK. Stephen Hall, Chief Executive of Dyslexia Action, commented: “We are very grateful to Everyman for helping us to reach out to more people. Roughly 1 in 10 people in the UK are affected by dyslexia and we often find that a lack of understanding causes great frustration to those affected and can hinder their progress at school, in work and during their everyday lives. We need to ensure as many people as possible are aware that specialised learning strategies and coping mechanisms can make a huge difference.


“Our film depicts the challenges faced by those struggling with dyslexia in a very unique way. By increasing understanding, we hope more people with dyslexia will get the vital help they need to reach their full potential.”


Crispin Lilly, CEO of Everyman Cinema said: “Everyman Cinema is supporting Dyslexia Awareness Week to help to raise awareness of learning difficulties, to highlight the importance of identifying dyslexia early and the tremendous benefits that those affected by dyslexia gain from the correct support. This is the second time we have shown the Dyslexia Action short animated film. It gives a real insight into the challenges of dyslexia, and the social isolation it can create. We are really proud to be helping Dyslexia Action raise awareness, and increase understanding so that people with dyslexia can get the support they need.”


Dyslexia Action won a series of animation films through the Creative Vision Awards. You can see Dyslexia Action’s animation films at:

BUties and the Beast’s animation film was chosen to show at Everyman next week.


What are the Creative Vision Awards?

Kingston Smith teamed up with Bournemouth University and The Arts University Bournemouth Film School’s BFX Festival to offer applying charities the chance to win an industry-quality animation (worth an estimated £150,000) completely free of charge. The BFX Competition, which was launched in 2012, consists of a seven-week residential for students and recent graduates of animation and VFX. Applicants, who represent the exceptional rising talent of the industry across the UK, endure a rigorous application process before being accepted into the competition. The chosen participants are mentored by industry professionals; MPC, Double Negative and Framestore to name a few.

The end product, for the 2015 awards, was six high-quality films about dyslexia, all of which Dyslexia Action got to keep. The winning charities are involved in all major steps throughout the process to ensure the final outcomes meet their needs and expectations.


Helping someone with dyslexia can make a ‘massive’ difference once someone is identified.


Different types of help include:

  • Changes to the classroom environment
  • 1-to-1 or Group Tutoring
  • Introduction of assistive technology
  • Reasonable adjustments in the workplace


Changes to the classroom environment

Once your child’s dyslexia has been identified speak to your child's class teacher and/or SENCo to discuss what ‘reasonable adjustments’ they can make to support your child. These may include:

  • literacy intervention resources
  • use of assistive technologies
  • seeking advice or support from a specialist teacher
  • auxiliary aids such as coloured overlays
  • hand-outs on yellow paper (reducing the contrast of black on white)
  • pen grips
  • adapted keyboards and computer software
  • weekly sessions with a specialist teacher

The severity of the dyslexia will affect the adjustments that it is reasonable for a school to make. To find out more about support from school, click here.


1:1 or Group Tutoring

The school may decide to provide one-to-one or group tutoring, depending on the needs of the child.

Alternatively, they may seek the support of Dyslexia Action which works in partnership with a number of primary and secondary schools across the country providing tuition within school hours.  Working in this way allows us to share our knowledge and expertise and support schools in using different methods, techniques and technology to support dyslexic learners. Tuition can provide:


  • Multi-sensory learning activities that are tailored to the learner (teaching involving multiple senses, including hearing, sight and movement, to help develop skills)
  • Support for specific needs including reading, spelling, writing, comprehension, mathematics, organisation, time management and memory
  • Activities and strategies to boost self-confidence
  • Support for specific tasks or assignments e.g. at work or in exams
  • Help to improve skills in writing reports, assignments and assessments
  • Support for KS1 and 2 examinations, GCSE study support or entry examinations

Tuition can be offered face to face or through a distance-based learning process with an online live teaching environment. For more about tuition, click here.

Introduction of assistive technology

Assistive technologies can help with everyday literacy and organisation tasks from reading or writing to planning or making calculations. There are many different options available and what might work for one individual may work less well for another. It is important to experiment and see what works for you or your child.


Reasonable adjustments in the workplace

In-line with the Equality Act 2010, if your dyslexia is classified as a disability, your employer should recognise your difficulties and make reasonable adjustments based on your individual needs. Find out how employers might help employees with learning difficulties here.



Read our bi-weekly blog on how technology can help.

For more information on help available, click here.

Or you can book a 30 minute FREE advice session with a specialist by calling your nearest Dyslexia Action centre.

Some people may be surprised to know that dyslexia is not only about reading and writing.

Today (Wednesday) for Dyslexia Awareness Week we want to raise awareness on how dyslexia affects everyone in different ways.

Dyslexia affects approximately one in ten people in the UK, that’s over 6 million people. However, much still needs to be done to raise awareness to help everyone understand the difficulties that people face.

Dyslexia Action’s Director of Education Dr John Rack said: “Dyslexia affects people in various ways, at different times in a person’s life. It can make some things harder to learn and put barriers in the way of progress.  However, those barriers can be overcome, once dyslexia is identified so the right kind of help and support can be put in place.”

What is affected?

Defined as a specific learning difficulty, dyslexia primarily affects the ability to learn to read and spell, and sometimes maths is affected too. It comes from a difficulty in dealing with the sounds of words, which make it especially hard to learn to read words using phonics (sounding out the letters in a word).

Along with slowness in learning to read, write and spell, other signs of dyslexia may include: continuing to make visual errors in reading, for example saying ‘was’ for ‘saw’ or ‘bad’ for ‘dad’; problems carrying out three instructions in sequence; spelling a word in several different ways; struggling with mental arithmetic or learning times tables; and, seeming bright in some ways but unexpectedly struggling in others.

Dr Rack added: “There is much that can be done to remove or minimise the difficulties for those with dyslexia once it has been identified. Without the right training, some teachers still find it difficult to identify dyslexia and need to seek outside help.

How dyslexia affected me

Although Talitha is a confident pupil, she finds it hard to remember things and learning to read and remember her maths was a real struggle.

Robert was confused because he didn’t know why he couldn’t keep up with the work and had real problems putting things down on paper when he knew he was intelligent:

 ‘Tests were pretty much ‘out of the window. I remember getting an A for my History and other coursework but a D in my exams. I went through my whole school career up until the final year of university without knowing I was dyslexic’.

Sarah is a mother of a dyslexic child. She said: ‘They think in pictures, movies, music, feelings and movement. They are full of talent, but often feel slow, stupid, different and misunderstood. I learned that Dyslexia is so much more than a learning difficulty related to reading and writing. Dyslexia is a gift. As a parent with a dyslexic child I had the responsibility to provide my child with the encouragement, education, and tools to become who she was meant to be’.

Holly was a student at university when her dyslexia was identified: ‘I just thought I was illiterate (when I was at school).  I found essay writing really hard. There was nothing more frustrating than knowing what you wanted to write, methodically constructing a logical plan, ticking all the relevant check points and then the final essay to be somewhat unrepresentative of what was initially intended’.

Ben was speaking two languages by the age of six but although he was bright he was unable to read or write. This affected his confidence and he consequently became shy and withdrawn.

For signs of dyslexia in children, click here.

For signs of dyslexia in young people and adults, click here.

Mollie King in the Intro to Margaret Rooke's book Creative, Successful, Dyslexic says:

“Even now, dyslexia has an impact on my life. When The Saturdays are recording a new song for the first time, the other girls just ‘go for it’ and get going with the words. I have to study the lyrics quietly by myself for some time first. The same was true with my new single.
If I’m on TV, before I read a line from an auto cue I have to memorise it first to make sure I don’t make any mistakes. When I think back to my school days, standing up in class and reading out loud, I remember my friend having to whisper words to me to help me through. I felt so puzzled when the others seemed to find their school work so much easier. I hated the amount of time it took me to make my way through my homework! There are terrible stories from some of the older contributors [in this book] of brutal treatment from teachers, of bullying and a general, shocking ignorance about learning difficulties. They all talk about how dyslexia brought misery – but also how it helped them achieve. There is life after school – and it was then that their creativity, determination and outlook helped them to get to where they wanted to be. I know that self-belief and confidence can be key to overcoming life’s challenges and achieving our dreams, and the stories in this book underline that. She advises children with dyslexia to keep their “confidence and ambition intact”. She says “Work as hard as you can – that’s really important. See yourself for all your wonderful qualities and keep pushing to make your dreams come true.”
To celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week 2016, we will be giving away 5 copies of Margaret Rooke's Creative, Successful, Dyslexic book - with experiences from high profile people with dyslexia.
Copies will be give away FREE to those registering interest that are based in the UK and are over 16. To enter for a chance to receive a free paperback copy click here.
To listen to Margaret Rooke talk about dyslexia, click here.

Dyslexia Awareness Week today highlights how dyslexia is identified

Only specially trained teachers and psychologists are usually able to identify individuals with dyslexia.

Identification of dyslexia involves tests of core language, memory, spelling and reading skills, along with tests of other possible areas of difficulty, such as processing speed. 


The first signs 

  • A child may show signs of dyslexia if they begin to struggle with reading.

  • An adult may have difficulty with organisation or time-management skills.



In teaching, training or coaching, it is easier to give the right kind of support if the difficulty has been identified.  If the barriers, getting in the way of progress, can be established, then focused support can help.


Identification can be important to establish what options are available.  If someone has had difficulties for a while, and learnt to hide them, it can be hard to know what the main problem is.  An assessment is therefore useful in these circumstances.

Listen to our Director of Research Dr John Rack who will talk to you about how dyslexia is identified.


Different kinds of assessment

Dyslexia is identified via a diagnostic assessment; so-called because it is designed to identify - or diagnose - the root of the difficulties that are causing concern.

Dyslexia Action offers two types of diagnostic assessment, along with other assessments and screenings.


Dyslexia Awareness Week

Each day this week, Dyslexia Action will focus on a different aspect of identification.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will be looking at how dyslexia affects people differently; Thursday will answer the question: What help is at hand for those with dyslexia? Friday’s focus will be: Why is the correct help important and how can we raise awareness together?

Find out where you can come and see us for free information and advice here.


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