Typography for Children with Reading Difficulties: Preferences for Type in Reading Books

By Myra Thiessen and Mary C. Dyson.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

For children with developmental dyslexia the already challenging task of learning to read is made harder by difficulties with phonological processing and perceptual distortions. As a result, these children may be less motivated to practise their literacy skills. This is problematic in that literacy can only be gained through constant and continued exposure to reading scenarios, and children who are unmotivated to practise are unlikely to develop into fluent readers. Children are active in choosing the books they read and it is therefore important to understand how the typography in those books influences their choice. Research with typically developing children has shown that they have clear opinions about the typography in their reading materials and that these opinions are likely to influence their motivation to read particular books. However, it cannot be assumed that children with reading difficulties read and respond to texts in the same way as children who do not struggle. Through case-studies of three children with reading difficulties, preferences for the typography in their reading books is examined. Looking at elements of typesetting such as spacing and size shows that this group of children is aware of differences in typography and that they have preferences for how their reading books are typeset. These children showed a preference for books that resembled those that their peers are reading rather than those that would, by typographic convention, be considered easier to read. This study is part of ongoing research into the development of alternative materials for teaching literacy skills to children with dyslexia.

Keywords: Typography, Typesetting, Literacy, Dyslexia

International Journal of the Book, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.115-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 570.058KB).

Dr. Myra Thiessen

Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Myra Thiessen is a PhD student in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, UK. Her research is concerned with how visual explanations of complex verbal concepts can be used to aid in the literacy education of dyslexic children. Myra is supported by a University of Reading Overseas Postgraduate Research Studentship.

Dr. Mary C. Dyson

Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Mary Dyson is Myra’s PhD supervisor. Mary teaches and researches into the evaluation of graphic materials in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, UK.

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