Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement

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Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.


Author Gary Karton Talks Dyslexia, Strengths and Spirit Animals
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Author Gary Karton“I do not lie to kids, ever. So when I say I truly believe all kids have special powers, I mean it,” says author Gary Karton. This message – that all children have unique strengths – is woven throughout Gary’s imaginative children’s book, The Last Akaway. The story follows 11-year-old protagonist Brody Boondoggle on his journey to find the mystical Akaway, a creature that connects individuals to their spirit animals, and in doing so unleashes the person’s special powers. “When I was a kid, I didn’t really feel like I had a super power,” Gary says. “I consider myself to be very average in almost every way, but I do think – if I had to name my super power—that I can see the greatness in other people. Kids, especially, have incredible gifts, and if you recognize and embrace these gifts when they're young, they continue to grow and grow.” The Last Akaway by Gary KartonAn important point to note about gifts is that they are not always reflected in school grades. Gary, who has dyslexia, explains that he could not stand to read as a child. In the third grade, he was pulled out of his regular reading group and was separated from his peers because he struggled with printed text. He even came up with creative ways to avoid reading, such as digging through the phone book and calling a civil war hobby shop with questions when he needed to write a history report, rather than reading a book on the subject. “It worked out for me because my teachers loved it—they considered it going above and beyond. They didn’t realize I only did it because I couldn’t stand reading.” Gary’s childhood aversion to reading is ultimately what led him to write children’s fiction. When Gary had children of his own, he wanted them to grow up with a love of reading and read to them constantly. “As my kids got older, they started to predict the endings to the books I was reading and got frustrated,” he says. “So they told me to try to write a book with an unpredictable ending. That's how I got into writing The Last Akaway."
The Last Akaway is available for download in Learning Ally's audiobook library. You can also find out more about The Last Akaway at Gary's website, brodyboondoggle.com.


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