How to build a dyslexia friendly school library (on a budget!)

The school library can play a critical role in providing support for pupils with dyslexia - and information on dyslexia to other pupils and staff.

<< back Page 2 of 2

Have suitable stock

As far as encouraging reading for pleasure is concerned, Barrington Stoke books are brilliant.  They're written by popular authors and aimed at struggling readers so are high interest short stories for a variety of age ranges.  They are ideal for dyslexic readers as they are printed on special paper - creamy thick pages - and the font size is larger than average.  The only downside is that they have recently started putting "also dyslexia friendly" labels on the covers which I think may be off putting.  Incidentally, the Barrington Stoke website has some excellent information about dyslexia.    There are lots of other books being published for older reluctant readers.  The Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler for example are very American, but good fun. 

You should ensure you stock different formats of stories. Try to get hold of different versions of anything they study in English, i.e. audio books, graphic novels or illustrated versions, abridged versions, DVDs.  Again, have them particularly well signposted.  If you have the money for an e-reader or two (which we don't unfortunately) these can be really helpful for dyslexic pupils.  Changing the size of the font can make a big difference for some, as can the clear background and audio options.

Have books about study skills and organising yourself - mind mapping and revision techniques - as well as informational books about dyslexia for all pupils.

Be aware of your dyslexic pupils and dyslexia in general

There should be a register that lists all the diagnosed dyslexic pupils enrolled in your school.  You should make sure you are aware of which pupils are on the register.  I had one to one meetings with all diagnosed dyslexic pupils in the school to ask if they needed any extra help.  Overwhelmingly these pupils wanted to be treated no differently than the other pupils.  Although they did want staff to know about their dyslexia, they did not want other pupils to know.  You need to be subtle in your support.  They appreciated extra help outside of lessons and were keen to have coloured overlays available to make reading easier.

As part of the evidence file for the accreditation, one of the criteria we have to demonstrate is that all the pupils (and of course staff) in the school understand dyslexia.  Our Head of Inclusion led an assembly in which she spoke about dyslexia and the difficulties it can create.  Following on from the assembly I surveyed all the pupils in the school to see how much information they had retained.  Interestingly about a quarter of them thought dyslexia could be cured.  Apart from this, they nearly all gave the answers we were hoping for.  I created a display in the library to remind pupils of the facts.

Keep the library as tidy and calm as you can

Keeping the library neat is nearly impossible in my school but I try my best.  I talk to everyone that comes into the Library, even if only to say hello, and a lot of them come to talk to me.  You should make yourself available to pupils that are feeling the pressure, and let them be comfortable in the library even if they've not got their nose in a novel.

These are very simple tips, but I hope they provide food for thought.  There may be lots of others that I have not thought of yet, but the process is ongoing.

Caroline Fielding is Librarian at a school in London.

Photo courtesy of Tiberiu Ana via Flickr.

<< back Page 2 of 2