Reading with Dyslexia

It might sound counter-intuitive but learning to read and truly enjoy a good book with dyslexia is possible. I hope that by sharing my personal experience in this post, I can help encourage parents and younger readers battling dyslexia.

I didn’t know I was dyslexic until I was about 14-15 years old when my high school boyfriend first realized what all my teachers had missed. Instead, I knew was smart but a horrible speller. I knew that I would Always be the last person to turn in my classwork and exams, but I would also receive some of the highest marks in all my classes. I struggled, but with great effort, I was able to still be an honor-roll student.

As early as kindergarten, I was held back during recess because I still hadn’t finished my work.  In about the 5th grade, I realized I read incredibly slow but felt reassured that my reading comprehension was spot on. As I moved into middle school and high school, I did become increasingly frustrated that my friends and classmates seemed to be able to wait until five minutes before class and still get their assignments done. Speed reading wasn’t an option for me. In fact, I was often left somewhere between marvel and disbelief that anyone could speed read and know what they had actually read. For me, reading and writing went at about the same pace as talking. In fact, I was actually lucky if I could maintain a steady talking pace. Considering I’m a Southern, the speed of talking isn’t exactly fast. In the long-run, this made it easier for someone to just tell me rather than make me read it.

So with all that in mind, how am I now a Ph.D. Candidate in the word intensive field of Anthropology?

Because despite my dyslexia or perhaps even because of it, I learned to love a good story. I learned to be really good at finding the meaning behind the words even when I could not keep up with the exact wording. Comprehension over speed. The importance of understanding the meaning over the adherence to literal and exact wording. My success is probably largely due to the ranking of Synthesis over Memorization in the hierarchy of learning techniques

But a big question, I’ve frequently asked myself over the past six years while working on my Ph.D. and working to obtain proficiency in a 2nd language, is how? How can I comprehend, interpret meaning, and synthesize new knowledge, if at 28 I still I can’t consistently giving you an accurate exact reading of the words on the page??

As a child, it was easier for me to tell you the whole story (my version) and give my insights into what was really going on than it would have been to read a single page out loud.

I don’t know if this is true for all people with dyslexia; dyslexia is itself an incredible complex diagnosis with a wide range of variation. But for me, I think the trick lays in the functionality of how I do read. To comprehend a single word, I really need the whole sentence, perhaps even the paragraph. Put one word on a BillBoard and I’m likely to come up with some pretty assuming alternatives to what the sign says. I read by context. A solitary p on a blank page would give me a lot of trouble. If I could nail down the orientation of the page and decide the curve of the letter was on the side closest to my right hand, then I could narrow it down to a p or b. If I could decide the line sticks down instead of up, then I could probably feel about 75% to 85% confident that I was looking at a p. But I think you’ll agree that took a lot more time and effort than it would the average person.

But I think that as context is so crucial to my ability to even identify a single letter, it is easy to see how context became a subject I was most devoted to. Developing an acute sensitivity to context and its implication on meaning and ‘what really matters’ or ‘what is really being said’, gave me a leg up when I finally got to the later parts of education which cared as much about how I got my answer as they did that my answer was ‘right’.

I think this advantage helped me survive the ever increasing challenge to ‘keep up’ with my classmates. I also had the advantage of having exemplary listening skills. I think I can probably blame my parents entire for that one as I was already getting top marks on listening before I began Kindergarten. My family loves to talk. We tell stories, sing songs, hold intense debates at the drop of the hat. All of this helped me develop skills that made it much easier to learn by listening. Lucky for me, even university professors in the States like to lecture. It wasn’t until graduate school that I faced my first exams that I couldn’t prepare myself for entire by listening to lectures, discussing the course with my classmates, Googling Youtube videos, and talking to the professor or teacher one-on-one.

All of this isn’t to say it has been easy, but focusing on the skills and learning techniques which came easier to me helped me face the challenges of dyslexia and academia. I couldn’t have gotten anywhere without the endless support of countless friends, teachers, and of course my parents. Hopefully, I will be able to repay the world someday by saying something worthwhile.

In my next post, I’ll share my understand of how despite my dyslexia, I learned to love to read.

Harry Potter as Modern Mythology

Avoiding for a moment the elephant in the room, I’d like to kick off an analysis project I’ve been considering for a while.

My goal is to consider the Harry Potter books, Movies, and Pottermore as bold British mythos for the modern era (the 20th and 21st centuries). It definitely has all the makings of legend. Before this series is complete, I hope to demonstrate that Harry Potter not only provides a bold Mythos of Modern Britain but that the series ignited a fire in the imaginations of people the world over that sparked a re-enchantment of the modern world, dispelling a more than one hundred year effort to disenchant the world by rationalists, futurists, and other such enlightened thinkers of the West.

A young hero who is a legend before he can even read. Movie Producer David Heyman argues that Harry fulfills the classic Everyman Hero. Raised among an absolutely normal family, Harry is unaware of his own power and fame when the story begins. Following the hero’s journey, he first rejects the amazing possibility of his identity. Unlike Tom Riddle, who instantly knew it must be true that he was a wizard and a special one at that, Harry feels there must be some grand mistake when Hagrid first comes calling, his hesitation repeated throughout the series when he learns more of his legend, his prophecy, and the role he is to play in the war to come.

“You’re a wizard Harry” says Hagrid. “I’m a what?” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 51).

“A wizard, o’course! An’ a thumpin’ good’un, I’d wager once you’ve trained up a bit.” Hagrid continues.  Harry continues in disbelief, “No, you’ve made a mistake. I mean.. I.. I can’t be ahh a wizard. I mean I’m just Harry. Just Harry.” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the movie, North American version).

While a full consideration of Harry’s Hero’s Journey is well worth wild and I intend to eventually pursue it further. But my own personal research interests lead me to first consider what Harry Potter as a myth can tell us about Death. I’ll do this as a 7 part series analyzing how Harry faces death in each year of the series.

Reche’s Story – Author’s Disclaimer

Reche’s story is entirely a work of fiction.  Reche and his mother never existed, but they could have.  The Teutonic Knights did invade the Prussian-Baltic region of North-East Europe as present day Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were the last hold out of official paganism in Europe.  It is in this fertile ground of conflict that I place Reche’s origins.

The story references real kingdoms, crusades and historic organizations such as the Teutonic Knights and the Ḥashshāshīn.  However, these organizations were secretive and much has been lost to history.  I largely draw on my imagination to fill these blanks.  There was an Islamic group called the حشّاشين or‎ Ḥashshāshīn which we translate to English as “Assassin(s)”.  If you want to read about the historical Assassins check out The Secret of the AssassinsWhen possible, I relied on available historic information for my setting, but I took creative license when necessary for storytelling purposes.

By historic accounts there is minimal time of overlap between the Teutonic Knights and the Ḥashshāshīn or the Hassassin as I’ve anglicized it for the Reche story.  If they did ever interact, it would have been in the ‘Holy Land’ not context of my story.  My undergrad degree in history has provided me with a wealth of historical knowledge I can draw from, but the people, places, and events are fictionalized. Most importantly, this fictional work does not represent the beliefs, morals, or actions of any real people past or present.


Reche Comes

Intense rain, so much rain, it made it hard to see.  It was in a flash of the lightning I first saw her, Moab and I were on watch that dreadful night.  Thunder boomed and lightening streaked the sky, and in the middle of it all: there was this young woman struggling to make her way through the rough mountain terrain. I wanted to go out and help her but we were probates, not even initiates yet.  You know the penalty for abandoning your post.  So we waited, and watched.  I said a little prayer for her. We decided she must be lost, but the brotherhood doesn’t make itself known to the wayward. We must have watched her for an hour, before we realized, she wasn’t lost.  It was unbelievable but somehow she knew where she was going even in that storm.  She was coming right to us.

That’s when Moab started getting fidgety.  “What if it’s a trick?!? Should we sound the alarm? I could just kill her, then they won’t even know our mistake.  She could be the enemy.  She could be a djinn.  I should just shoot off a few arrows, maybe she’ll run away.”  He reached for his bow and started to notch an arrow, hands trembling all the while. Honestly, I don’t think he’d ever killed anybody yet. I put out my hand to stay him and told him to run and fetch Brother Fasset, who was captain of the guard back in those days. I stayed and watch her, as she got ever closer.  She didn’t look like a djinn but I’ve never seen one anyway.  When she made her way to the hidden gate, I had no choice but to come down form my watch tower and meet her.  When she reached our gate she held out this slip of paper and whispered “Reche” before collapsing.

Hassassin symbol for the Reche story

Small and blue, but it was our symbol nonetheless.  Moab must have gotten back about that time with help. I just remember watching Brother Fasset and Brother Nardi carry her to the healing wing so that Brother Nardi could care for her.  That’s all I know, you’ll have to ask one of them.

About Bards Anonymous

Bards Anonymous is an Online Literary Magazine.

We are in the early stages of planning and developing this project.  As of right now, our online debut is planed for June.  New material will be published monthly.

As an online literary magazine, Bards Anonymous will accept submissions of creative fiction written by budding unpublished authors.  Harking back to the periodical publications of classic Victorian novels such as A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, and numerous others, Bards Anonymous will primarily focus on publishing budding young author’s unpublished work one chapter at a time.  This will allow authors to share their work with an online audience and receive feedback.  All authors will maintain ownership of their works.  With time Bards Anonymous hopes to serve as medium through which writers can share their, generate a fan base, and eventually go on to publish the entirety of their work with publishing companies.  Bards Anonymous is therefore designed to be a stepping stone in the writing and publishing process.

Additionally, we will publish a few short stories, poems, and editorials offering advice for writers in each edition.

If you are interested in submitting a piece to Bards Anonymous or would be interested in collaborating as an editor, please contact us at