The Map Challenge: A Book about Dyslexia

The Map Challenge: A Book about Dyslexia

The Map Challenge: A Book about Dyslexia
Tracy Packiam Alloway

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786035769

When Sammy's group loses their map on a camping trip, can he use his SEN Superpowers to save the day and lead them safely back to the campsite? SEN Superpowers: The Map Challenge explores the topic of dyslexia with an empowering story and adorable illustrations. The SEN Superpowers series celebrates the positive traits associated with a range of common SEN (Special Education Needs) conditions, boosting the confidence and strength-awareness of children with those conditions, while also allowing for better understanding and positivity among their peers. Each book includes a page of discussion points about the story, a page of tips for how to boost abilities (inclusive for children with and without special educational needs), and, finally, a further page of notes for parents and teachers. The books feature a dyslexic-friendly font to encourage accessibility and inclusivity for all readers.

Librarian's Book choice

The Map Challenge - part of the SEN Superpowers series from QED - is a highly accessible story which takes into account the worries, fears and difficulties that children with dyslexia may have. The book is reader-friendly and the pictures and text suit all readers, including those with dyslexia. The story is relatable and helps the reader to understand that children with dyslexia have special strengths that can overcome their difficulties. This is a very clear story that helps pinpoint certain difficulties of dyslexia, and how children can learn strategies to allow them to overcome and build confidence when approaching tasks.

Sammy is a young boy who is on his first day of scout camp. He is asked to be the navigator of his group of children for the first activity by reading a map. Sammy is filled with dread as he finds directions and reading very tricky. As they go on their way, other children take over reading the map, whilst Sammy starts to pay attention to landmarks around him. When the children get into difficulty and become lost, Sammy is able to lead them back to the Scout camp by remembering the places and things he has seen and remembered along the way.

Sammy's character is very relatable to children who I have worked with, and who would really panic and become distressed about the task of reading a map or instructions. The way that the other children took over the navigation was also true to what would usually happen. I liked that Sammy was able to speak up in the end and show how he had skills that the other children had overlooked, and how he was able to commit pictures to his memory.

This book is easy to share with all ages of children, and provides a good talking point to introduce how some children have difficulties but also strengths. This can boost the confidence of children who feel that reading/writing is a struggle - and give an insight to what they have special skills in.

The text and layout of the story was clear to follow, and the colouring on the page was soft in contrast. Lots of pastel and muted colours allowed the pictures to be easily viewed without harsh contrasts.

I would use this book in class to introduce differences and how dyslexia can be a strength in different ways, and use the comprehension questions at the back to discuss the feelings of children who find learning and activities difficult. Working with parents and children 1:1, the book could be used for the child to share worries and talk about strategies with their parents about what they find difficult and realise their strengths also. The helpful talking points and key information at the back of the book are a helpful first step into sharing with a child their views and how to possibly help them. The tips for boosting memory skills at the back of the book are accessible for teachers and parents.

I feel that this book will appeal to students, parents, teachers and school staff. It's really important to recognise difficulties for pupils with dyslexia, but also to recognise the strengths of the pupil, and different ways of them learning effectively - such as kinaesthetic and moving around to visually commit things to memory. It's a lovely little book with a strong message, and good talking points to consider after the story.

24 pages / Ages 5-7 years / Reviewed by Katherine Louisa Hutchings, teacher