Yvonna Graham talks about her new book- Dyslexia Tool Kit (What to do when phonics isn’t enough) Expanded Edition: An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito
I met Yvonna online and found her work fascinating. She is the mother of a Dyslexic child with a success story to tell. As you’ll learn in the interview, she developed ways to help her daughter and worked with her successfully. Her daughter now holds a Ph.D. In fact, her daughter is the co-author of this book. Her methods are based on research. Her way of presenting them is an easy-to-understand and easy-to-use format. That is the best of all worlds. Let’s find out more about Yvonna.
Biography: Yvonna Graham, B.A. Psych, M.A. Spec. Ed., taught reading for over 30 years. Her first student was her deeply dyslexic daughter, who was pronounced uneducable by the first-grade teacher.
Her daughter is now Dr. Alta Graham, computer scientist, composer, and co-author of Dyslexia Tool Kit. Alta’s insight into how the dyslexic brain learns uniquely informs this book.
After founding Mumbling Marmot Tutoring in Durango CO, Yvonna used multiple methods to teach children and adults who failed to read when restricted to a “phonics only” approach. Dyslexia Tool Kit rejects the idea that everyone must learn to read in the same way and offers 27 diverse tools to try. A simple format that avoids technical language makes this book surprisingly accessible. Yvonna did not invent these tools; rather, she gathered them from a wide variety of research on dyslexia and simplified them for use by anyone who wants to teach someone else to read, using dyslexic strengths while avoiding anxiety, embarrassment, or fear.
Yvonna feels especially honored to have been interviewed by three of her literacy heroes: Dr. Marion Blank (Reading Kingdom), Fernette Eide (co-author of The Dyslexic Advantage), and most recently, Dr. Sam Bommarito (https://doctorsam7.blog/)
Yvonna also recommends the following resources for parents and teachers of dyslexic kids:
Here is the YouTube podcast of the interview:
These are the highlights of what we covered:
Here is a link to her book LINK:
Dr. Sam’s reflections about Yvonna and her work
Yvonna is not the first parent of a dyslexic child who went on to share with the world how they helped their child (for instance, LINK, LINK). In the introduction to the book, Yvonna and Alta remind us that “Dyslexia is a difference, not a disability.” I like Dr. Graham’s notion of replacing “in spite of” with “because.” It rings true for me. Because I have ADHD, my brain is wired differently. It gives me the ability to see connections that others don’t. It helps me understand the children I work with better. It is actually a gift, not a curse.
That said- I don’t want anyone to take the tag in the title (what to do when phonics isn’t enough) to mean that phonics is unimportant or should be ignored. When I in-service teachers, I teach them how to teach all forms of phonics. Most recently, I find myself strongly advocating the use of synthetic phonics first (for most kids). But what do you do if phonics isn’t working or isn’t enough? I’ve discussed the Australia reports (see the section under the Context heading) LINK. There are children for whom analytic phonics fails to have an impact. What do you do? In my opinion, this book gives you many things to do. I also see this book as a source of ideas for common ground. For instance, learning to track (match), reading together, spelling, word roots, and student-created stories are all things I do with my students. This book provides a good source of ideas that I believe we can all agree upon. Suppose we would start talking about what we agree on FIRST. In that case, I think some of the rancor and division that characterizes many literacy dialogues today could be replaced with genuine discussions about how to help all the kids. Dare to dream!
Dr. Sam’s Upcoming Blogs- I anticipate I will continue to weigh in on the ongoing discussions generated by Emily Handford’s podcasts (in case you missed yesterday’s special edition podcast about Handford, here is a LINK.)In addition, I’m trying to line up new folks to interview. Those will include speakers at conferences at which I will be presenting (LitCon, Write to Learn, Mo Early Childhood) and folks with new books. So until next week:
Happy Reading and Writing.
Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching
Copyright 2022 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the author’s view and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.
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