Working in a public library, one gets to meet many different people from all walks of life — this is one of the biggest perks of the library profession. And every once in a while we get to meet someone who really stands out — allow me to introduce you to one of them.
Scott Forsythe is a teenager from the Fort Wayne area; he and his family have been regular library users for many years. About a year ago, Scott came to our reference desk in the Children’s Services department at the Main Library and asked if we had any resources on dyslexia. Specifically, he was looking for information on fonts that are easier for young children with dyslexia to decode and read. We did a little looking around, and came up with very little.
Scott, you see, has dyslexia. And he knows very well the struggles that are involved. He is committed to helping other kids who have dyslexia — he’s even published and maintains his own website of resources: Dyslexic Kids. Seeing a need for a resource on dyslexic-friendly fonts, he decided to come up with his own list of early reader books with fonts and layouts that are easier for children with dyslexia to read.
To come up with this list, Scott spent a great deal of time at the library, examining early reader books, searching for titles that fit his criteria:
- a clean, simple consistent font that is similar to hand-printed letters
- consistent spacing between letters
- clear, simple illustrations
- a tinted background behind the text
As Scott describes it:
“For young dyslexics, stylized fonts can make reading more difficult. They struggle to learn the letters, such as the letters a and g, but the books they read depict the letters as a and g. The differences in font styles make an already stressful and difficult situation more stressful and confusing. Illustrations can be helpful, but a busy layout can be distracting. A tinted background behind the text reduces the glare caused by black font on a stark, white background.”
Scott earned his Eagle Scout badge for his work on this project. Here at the Allen County Public Library, we are very proud to have Scott’s Dyslexic-Friendly Book List published on our website. And we are also very proud to have families like Scott’s in our community.
Our guest blogger today is Kris Lill, a Children’s Librarian
at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.
This is a great list for everyone who is interested in providing beginner books to children who might be experiencing reading problems. Congratulations to Scott for his research highlighting the readability of fonts. Kate Todd
I was really impressed with Scott’s website. I feel like he did a great job organizing the information, and its really seems like great resource for those looking to learn more about dyslexia. It’s really unfortunate that there aren’t more reading materials designed with dyslexic readers in mind, but I’m glad Scott took the steps to research which fonts and book designs worked best for him.
Not to be picky, but one thing about this article sort of clashed with its message: Scott’s description of how stylized fonts and stark white backgrounds make reading difficult for individuals with dyslexia is written in italicized font on a stark white background…
I’m glad you noticed the change in fonts for Scott’s quote, Sarah. You are correct, it is NOT the perfect font for children or adults with dyslexia. The reason I chose the sans serif font for Scott’s quote was to highlight the differences in the letters “a” and “g” — and believe me, it was difficult to find an online font that cooperated with my wishes! 🙂 Which led me to understand even more the difficulties that people with dyslexia encounter that I so often take for granted.