A special education teacher has written a series of books inspired by her family farm, to enable and encourage reluctant readers and those with dyslexia to revel in the world of reading.
Deirdre Dermody has self-published the Farm Phonics series.
“I often have children who love farming and being outdoors but who are reluctant to read. I found it difficult to source appropriate books for them so I created six books to make reading fun and motivating for these children,” she said.
“I was particularly cognisant of children with dyslexia and reading difficulties and have designed the books to be dyslexia friendly,” said Deirdre, whose base school is Terryglass National School, with Kilruane National School being her second school.
“As well as that, I wanted to incorporate diversity, so while the main characters are a family based on my own, the books have a farmer who is wheelchair user and a diversity of supporting characters.”
The family farm in Lorrha on which Deirdre grew up overlooks Lough Derg and was the inspiration for Lakeview Farm in the stories. The main characters in the stories are three generations of a family.
“Pat was drawn from photos of my dad, Paddy, and Mim is based on my mam. Her granddaughters call her Mimi,” said Deirdre.
“Our farm was mixed. We had cattle, sheep and tillage. I helped out a bit, feeding lambs, moving animals and things like that.
The books, available via the Shop in Ireland website, went on sale last October.
“I write and provide photos to an illustrator in Cork, called Salvacion who does the photos and the graphic design. They are printed by Kingdom Printers in Kerry,” Deirdre outlined.
“I am delighted with the reaction to the books. The children are loving them, particularly those who are not motivated to read the usual books.
“One mother said they are the only books she can get her son to read. A grandmother said her grandson carried book one with him everywhere.
“Children who love farming are enjoying reading about a subject close to their hearts. I am also getting feedback from teachers who are finding the books very educationally beneficial.
“The books were a real labour of love and my motivation is to help children read and develop a love of books, so this kind of feedback means to much to me,” said Deirdre.
“Salvacion is currently developing a children’s gratitude journal for me. In my role, I see a lot of struggling readers develop self-confidence issues, so well-being is a big part of special education. I am also working on educational games based on the books. Learning through play is a powerful approach to literacy,” Deirdre concluded.