New dyslexia friendly book introduces Irish children to local wildlife

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Nature's hidden adventures

A new book, ‘Nature’s Hidden Adventures’, is one of the first Irish published books to be suitable for children with dyslexia. The book, by Burren author Shane Casey, uses a combination of special font, colour schemes, and layout to make it easier for children with dyslexia to read.

‘They’re only little changes’ says Shane, ‘but they make a huge difference for children with dyslexia’. ‘It’s very rewarding to see the expression on their faces when they look at the book for the first time. It leaves me feeling humbled every time’.

dyslexia‘Nature’s Hidden Adventures’, which is aimed at children aged six years and older, contains three richly descriptive stories featuring wildlife and habitats that are regularly encountered right across the country. In a beautiful park full of woodlands, wetlands and wildflower meadows, there lives a most unusual bumblebee called Bombus Reilly. In a quaint little town, where the buildings reach high up into the sky, there is a young swift who’s terrified of flying for the first time. On a farm where hedges and ditches divide fields of wheat and barley, two little hedgehogs search for somewhere safe to hibernate.

‘I work as Dublin City Biodiversity Officer, and previously as Clare Biodiversity Officer’, says Shane, ‘and I started writing the stories as a way of engaging children, and connecting them to the nature and wildlife all around us’.

Each story in ‘Nature’s Hidden Adventures’ is complemented with beautifully detailed illustrations by County Clare artist, Vincent Killowry. Unlike other books, which dress up and personify animals, Vincent’s illustrations depict the animals and their habitats as they really are in nature. Increasingly in Ireland, children are unfamiliar with the animals and plants which their parents and grandparents grew up with, however, ‘Nature’s Hidden Adventures’ aims to buck this trend.

‘Nature’s Hidden Adventures’ is the second book by Shane Casey. His first book, ‘Nature’s Secret Adventures’, has received huge praise, particularly from the parents and teachers of children with dyslexia. It too contains three stories. In a back garden full of daisies, dandelions and primroses, lives an ordinary little pygmy shrew who becomes a hero after he rescues the girl of his dreams from a big tom-cat. Under an old willow tree on a river bank, a shy young otter attends her first day in school, where her classmates, ducklings, tadpoles and young salmon, have very big dreams. In the final story, after two years of living at the bottom of a stream, two mayflies inspire a magical legend when they discover a whole new world full of mountains, valleys, woodlands and lakes.

‘I grew up on a farm in the Burren’ says Shane, ‘where I was immersed in nature from an early age’. ‘Our parents had a huge love of nature, and sense of pride in Blackhead, where we lived and farmed. I can remember always keeping an eye out for the first spring gentian of the year, and listening for the call of the cuckoo each Summer. I’m incredibly grateful to my parents for instilling that same love of nature and pride of place in us, because it’s the foundation upon which I write these stories’.

Further information can be found on www.naturessecretadventures.ie and www.facebook.com/naturessecretadventures

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