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Young and Dyslexic? You’ve got it going on.

Author: Benjamin Zephaniah and Jessica Kingsley

The anthology is an article that was published in The Guardian.

The anthology is about the struggles Zephaniah had with dyslexia. Zephaniah uses the first-person narrative throughout and uses personal anecdotes to highlight his hardships.

  • It is a short autobiography written in an informal tone.

  •  Its purpose is to inform people about the struggles of dyslexic students and persuade them that having dyslexia is not a bad thing. 

  • The anthology is informative, entertaining and persuasive.

  • The anthology is written in the first person like a memoir. This helps highlight his vulnerability and honesty throughout the extract

Summary:

  • The title “Young and dyslexic? You’ve got it going on.” tells us that his target audience is children and young adults. He goes on to say “you’ve got it going on.” suggesting that the reader should make the best of what they have.

  • Dyslexia is presented as something that has been misunderstood in the past due to societal pressures. “The past is a different kind of country” The metaphor is used to iterate that the way of thinking was alien and it explains how people with dyslexia aren’t stupid but simply have a different way of learning. The anthology encourages people with dyslexia to see the world in a different way.

  • The purpose of language throughout the anthology is to highlight the gross injustices felt by many who have dyslexia. ● Personal accounts allow the reader to see first-hand what school life was like for him.

  •  It is about the struggle of Benjamin Zephaniah when he was in school as a dyslexic student, at a time when teachers didn’t know about dyslexia and how his life has turned out since then.

  •  He only found out that he was dyslexic at the age of 20

 

Structure:

  •  “We are the architects, we are the designers”.-the parallel sentence structure here focuses on the roles of architects and designers which are skilled, respected roles. He is emphasising that being dyslexic could be a great advantage. He uses the collective pronoun “we” to ensure the reader that they are not alone if they have dyslexia.

  •  “I never thought I was stupid. I didn’t have that struggle.” and “I just had self-belief”- these short sentences create a confident and defiant tone which suggests to the reader that you need confidence to be successful.

Meaning:

  • The anthology’s main purpose is to encourage people with dyslexia to make the most of the way they think.

Language:

  • Benjamin Zephaniah uses many different language features to share his story. The language used in this anthology is simple to appeal to the dyslexic audience too.

  • We understand that the text is going to be anecdotal when Zephaniah says “As a child, I suffered,”. The language used is also emotive- it appeals to the reader’s feelings and evokes sympathy.

  • “No compassion, no understanding and no humanity”- the triad used here are all negative connotations. He indicates that the education system was very constricting and limiting and was not empathetic towards students in any way. ● He uses the metaphor “the past is a different kind of country” which iterates that the way of thinking was foreign and people weren’t aware of the learning disorder. The quote has an element of hope as it illustrates that the present is much more developed in terms of understanding learning disabilities.

  • “Shut up, stupid boy”- aggressive insults reinforcing the view that the system didn’t support Zephaniah or students similar to him.

  • “Local savages”- racism and bigotry. It shows that teachers were ignorant.

  •  “So long as you could read how much the banknote was worth, you knew enough or you could ask a mate”- evokes sympathy as he would give up due to the hardships that dyslexia had put him through.

  •  “I got thrown out of a lot of schools…” the line is an example of ethos as his honesty gives him credibility. His honesty appeals to the reader.

  •  “I didn’t stab anybody...I stole his car and drove it into his front garden”- he juxtaposes himself when he tries to justify that stealing a car isn’t as bad as stabbing someone, however, they are both still crimes.

  •  “A high percentage of the prison population is dyslexic, and a high percentage of the architect population.”- the statistics used here show contrast and how differently your life can lead if you're dyslexic. He also stresses the importance of making the right choices.

  •  “Should”- the modal verb suggests that everything was leaning towards him ending up in prison.

  •  “A black man brought up on the wrong side of town…” uses extensive listing here to relay all the things about him and his life that goes against him and should have held him back. Knowing these things helps the reader gain respect for Zephaniah.

  •  “But opportunities opened for me and they missed theirs, didn’t notice them or didn’t take them.”- Zephaniah tries to maintain a positive, encouraging tone.

  •  “Took off”- the colloquial language used helps engage the reader.

  •  “Do I need an operation?” use of humour to reveal his naivety and his lack of knowledge on dyslexia. It also helps create a light-hearted tone.

  •  “Still now”- the temporal marker highlights that he’s still struggling.

  • “Brunel University”, “professor”- the language choice used here is very professional and shows that people with dyslexia can achieve anything in academia.

  • “Passion, creativity, individuality”- triad

  • “In my life now”- the temporal marker juxtaposes the first sentence at the beginning of the anthology.

  •  “If someone can’t understand dyslexia, it’s their problem.”- defiant tone

  •  “How can I become white?”- his use of humour highlights how ridiculous stereotyping is.

  •  “If your dyslexic and you feel there’s something holding you back, just remember: It’s not you. In many ways being dyslexic is a natural way to be.” the quote has an encouraging and advisory tone. The punctuation (colon) used encourages the reader to give more attention to the message that follows. The word “you” is repeated several times to reassure people with dyslexia that they are not at fault. (direct address).

  •  “Unnatural is the way we read and write”- light-hearted.

  •  “so” - interjection.

  •  “Don't be heavy on yourself.”- reassuring tone.

  •  “Dyslexia is not a measure of intelligence: you may have a genius on your hands.”- the colon used shows how important the second clause.

  •  “Creativity muscle”- neologism (made-up word). This is so that the reader isn’t displeased by jargon.

  •  “Us dyslexic people, we’ve got it going on- we are the architects. We are the designers.”- collective pronouns are used. The quote references the title. The quote is repeated so it emphasises the purpose of the anthology.

  • “I didn’t have that as a child.”- this reminds the reader of the anecdotes and how much has changed over a short amount of time for him.

  •  “Bloody non-dyslexics... who do they think they are?”- the quote has a light-hearted, optimistic tone to it. It is to build rapport with those who are dyslexic and to create a sense of unity

Effect on the reader:

  •  The anthology has a positive effect on the reader as the anecdotes highlight the difficulties he has overcome and how much he has achieved despite the fact that he has dyslexia. The varying tone throughout helps to engage the reader.

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