Two Books for Right Brain Learners

picture of Barbara Hoi
Barbara Hoi

Barbara Hoi of Sydney, Australia has published two books sure to delight parents and teachers.   The first book is called The Right Brain for the Right Time: Unlock the Dyslexic Potential & Transform from a Frustrated Reader to an Inspiring Leader.

The book relates stories from Barbara’s own practice, explores the many talents associated with dyslexia, and is full of grounded, practical advice and tips and suggestions.  The book is also laid out with extra space between paragraphs, which helps make it readable and easily accessible by all.

Barbara’s second book is called Nurturing the Secret Garden: A Guide to Reading Mastery and is designed as a tool that can be used by parents or tutors to help guide and motivate children after a Davis Dyslexia Correction program.  In order to fully benefit from a Davis program, students need to make clay models of the letters and meanings of more than 200 trigger words – small, function words of language that do not have easily pictured meanings.

Ron Davis wrote, “You can master the words on the Trigger Word list randomly, in any order, coming back to fill in alternate definitions. One of the gifts of dyslexia is to sort things out automatically.. Take advantage of it.” (The Gift of Dyslexia, chapter 24 “Implementing the Davis Procedures”, p. 141).

That approach works well for many highly motivated students. It allows them a sense of control and a way to let their creativity lead the way, and certainly can keep things interesting for the student and helper alike.  It also enables students to set their own priorities, and choose to tackle more difficult words when the time seems right.

Unfortunately, however, some students run out of steam and find it harder to keep motivated. A parent, tutor, or other support person may feel frustrated by lack of structure – “randomly, in any order” may leave the person feeling somewhat lost, not knowing where to start.

Barbara Hoi’s book addresses this shortcoming by providing a path that simultaneously adds a consistent structure to the task of modeling, and also reinforces the practical aspect and the goals of word mastery. She has lightly adapted the classic children’s novel, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and keyed text excerpts to words from the Davis trigger list.  Thus, the words are modeled in the order they are encountered in the text, At first the text excerpts are quite brief, but as the reader masters more words, she will also gain the proficiency to be able to read longer excerpts as the tale of an orphaned child raised by servants and sent to live at a gloomy and mysterious manor.  As the reader progresses, the narrative continues and the mystery unfolds — providing plenty of motivation to continue until all Davis words are mastered.