Andrew M. Nehring, author of the Dave Massie series for middle grade readers, knows how hard it can be to encourage a love of books in children who struggle to read. Here he talks about his own experience growing us with dyslexia and how that influences him when he writes. Read on to find out his perspective. Want more information about the author and his books? Check out andrewmnehring.com.
The struggles I had with dyslexia are oddly similar to so many others. In school, I struggled with reading comprehension and as a result, I had hesitation towards books and reading in front of the class for fear of being laughed at for reading badly among a long list of others. Where my journey becomes unique to me, is the fact that I have an auditory and photographic memory. This allowed me to memorize everything in terms of words and sentences, so when I read, I gave the impression of having solid reading skills. In reality, I had no idea what I was saying and my comprehension was so low that teachers actually believed I was faking my disability and doubting that I had dyslexia. Most of my teachers thought that I was faking it and that I was just lazy.
After a lot of hard work, I was able to get my reading comprehension to that of my grade-level peers, but I was still overwhelmed by the idea of reading long and daunting books. This is why I make my books the way I do. I make my books fun and non-daunting in length (150 pages or so), that are fast to read. These are exactly the books I would have reached for in my youth! This is why I think it is so important to have these types of fun, fast-paced accessible books for middle schoolers to really ignite their passion for reading for them. They would read the first David Massie, finish it quickly and jump to the next installment. As a dyslexic author, it is very important to me that I make books that keep kids excited about reading and help their imagination grow, but it is also extremely important to me that I help break the stigma around dyslexia and help encourage others who are like me to follow their dreams.
It is also important to me to write in this genre. Science Fiction is a fun and exciting genre that brings the most creative responses out of both adults and children. By exposing children to reading early in life, it begins to spark that creativity that will continue until adulthood and beyond. Reading allows people to experience places, people and things that they may next experience in their everyday life. Science Fiction goes even beyond that. Science Fiction gives people ideas that are out of this world and maybe outside of the scope of what humans have accomplished thus far. However, by exposing people to science fiction, you’re allowing people to dream of things that someone might not have ever thought about and those thoughts and extraordinary inventions that these kids read about, might lead to the next advancements in human technology.