‘Clearer and Better’: Preferences of Children with Reading Difficulties for the Typography and Illustration in Literacy Materials

By Myra Thiessen and Mary C. Dyson.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Preference influences how an individual chooses graphic material and is therefore an important consideration in the design of literacy materials for children with reading difficulties, such as those associated with dyslexia. However, little is known about what this group of children like and dislike about the typography and the illustrations in their reading materials. Children with reading difficulties are likely to be less motivated to practise their literacy skills, and as fluency in literacy can only be gained through practice, it is important to understand how reading materials can be created that these children will be more motivated to read. Through case-studies of six children with reading difficulties, their typographic (parts one and two) and illustrative (part three) preferences were tested. Parts one and two were concerned with the effects of typesetting and looked at the influence of letter, word, and line spacing, and also type size. The typographic preferences of these six children were analysed and were then compared to their reading performance. Part three focused on the illustrative preferences of these children and looked at the use of colour and the level of detail included in this kind of visual information. By creating reading materials that correspond to the preferences of children with reading difficulties it is more likely that they will be motivated to read those books. These case-studies are part of ongoing research into the development of alternative materials for teaching literacy skills to children with dyslexia.

Keywords: Literacy, Dyslexia, Typography, Illustration, Design

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 12, pp.365-384. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.389MB).

Dr. Myra Thiessen

Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Myra Thiessen is a PhD student in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, UK. Her research is concerned with how visual explanations of complex verbal concepts can be used to aid in the literacy education of dyslexic children. Myra is supported by a University of Reading Overseas Postgraduate Research Studentship.

Dr. Mary C. Dyson

Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Mary Dyson is Myra’s PhD supervisor. Mary teaches and researches into the evaluation of graphic materials in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, UK.

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