Why Tyrannosaurus but Not If?

Book Cover

“I don’t understand it: he can read tyrannosaurus, but he gets stuck on if!”

This question from the mother of a dyslexic child reflects a commonly encountered and paradoxical aspect of dyslexia.  It is not simply a problem with reading; rather, the dyslexic child’s reading barriers often seem to make little sense.  Most literature about teaching reading seems to focus on the process of phonetic decoding – and yet many children will stumble over small, easily decodable words.  (In the case of my own son, it was the word “up”).

Chart, dyslexic reading path

This question is the basis for the title in Richard Whitehead’s newly published book, Why Tyrannosaurus But Not If? The book explores the answers through an engaging and straightforward exploration of educational theory and practice.  The book explains how differences in dyslexic brain function relate to reading acquisition, and why children with low phonemic awareness,  visual dyslexia, or attention focus problems are particularly likely to struggle with phonic-based teaching approaches.

Richard Whitehead is an experienced educator who serves as the special needs coordinator (SENCO) at a British secondary school.  He also is a Davis method trainer and provider, and the director of Davis Learning Foundation. Because of his combined experience both with Davis methods and with traditional approaches to in-school reading instruction and remediation, he is particularly adept at explaining and analyzing how the standard instructional methods fail dyslexic learners.

Although the author draws on his own experience in sharing anecdotes throughout the book, he also cites to and summarizes independent research about the way dyslexics think and learn.  But this book does more than present theory or argument – it also includes practical strategies and suggestions that teachers can implement with students at all levels.

For more information about this book – as well as a free online course for teachers – readers can visit the website, whytyrannosaurusbutnotif.com