Author Don Winn Interviews Reggie Stork: A Dyslexic Hero of Self-reference
from the Sir Kaye Children’s Book Series
Although Dyslexia was first documented about 130 years ago, the condition has probably been around for as long as the written word. In my Sir Kaye the Boy Knight medieval adventure series, Reggie—Sir Kaye’s best friend and the narrator of the stories—is most definitely dyslexic. Despite Reggie’s struggles with the complications associated with dyslexia, he also has many strengths, and eventually becomes one of the greatest storytellers in the land of Knox as well as one of its official Royal Chroniclers. But Reggie’s journey is not an easy one: it takes grit and determination. He constantly works at developing a strong sense of self—that is, believing in himself regardless of what others say, think, or expect of him.
In the following fictional interview with Reggie, we get a glimpse into his personal journey of discovery.
Don: Would you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
Reggie: My name is Reggie. Well, actually it’s Reginald Stork, but only my parents call me that, and only when I’m in trouble. My friends call me Reggie. I love to explore, solve mysteries, have adventures with my friends Kaye and Beau, ride horses, and eat! My favorite room in the house is the kitchen, but I like being outside best. I’m also a Royal Chronicler of Knox now. That still surprises me when I think about it.
Don: Why is your appointment as Royal Chronicler a surprise?
Reggie: Because writing is really hard for me. I like to talk—people tell me I talk a lot! But even though I can think and say all kinds of things, it’s really hard for me to write it down. It takes too long, and my writing is bad, and I can’t tell even half of the things I want to. It’s frustrating! Reading is hard for me too. I guess at words a lot and use pictures as clues so I can pretend to other people that I can read as well as them.
Don: Reggie, when did you first suspect that you learned differently than other children?
Reggie: I had trouble memorizing the alphabet—big trouble. And numbers are hard for me too. My father is a wool merchant and he used to ask me to help him count the fleeces in his warehouse. I kept losing track of the numbers, and even after counting them, in the space of time between counting and writing the number down, I’d get confused and have to start all over again. My father would get so angry with me!
And I get lost easily. If a friend gives me directions with more than a turn or two, I can’t remember the order or all of the steps. That’s one reason why I love being with my friends—they never get lost!
Don: How have you managed these challenges to do your job as Royal Chronicler?
Reggie: During all our adventures, I realized that, while reading and writing are always really hard for me, I love stories. I love telling them, hearing them, being part of them. And the only way to keep stories safe and share them with others in a way they won’t change over time, is to write them down. Some of my favorite stories are from before I was born—even from hundreds of years ago–and I would never know them if they hadn’t been written down.
If I take my time, and don’t try to rush, I can write down the truth about my adventures with Kaye and Beau. And that’s important! People need to know that Kaye never deserved to be called Sir Donkey, and that Beau is more than just the queen’s nephew, and that I am not stupid! Writing these things down will always be hard work for me, but remembering how important stories are makes me willing to do the work. Also the queen pays me five gold coins a month to write these things down. That helps a lot!
Don: How do you feel about the fact that you have to work harder than your friends to read and write, or that they don’t struggle with getting lost?
Reggie: Sometimes I’m angry or sad. It’s not fair! But thinking about it makes me unhappy. I like to be happy. So now, when I start getting impatient with my slow writing and reading, I tell myself that I’m good at a lot of things too. I am very observant. I like helping people. And sometimes I can be very brave, although I usually don’t know it until after I’ve been brave. I could keep thinking about the things that frustrate me, or I can choose to say, “What’s next?” and get on with life’s adventures. And I like having adventures better than feeling sad about myself.
Don: What’s been the hardest thing in your life so far?
Reggie: Feeling stupid, and feeling like I am always disappointing people because I don’t do things well or fast enough. My father hired tutor after tutor for me, and every one of them quit, telling my father I was stupid and couldn’t learn. My father wants me to become a wool merchant like him and he is always disappointed in me because I’m no good at it—and because I’m no good at anything that matters to him. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I’ll ever be good enough for anything, or anyone! Thinking that way makes me feel alone and sad.
But in a way, I’m glad I’ve had those thoughts about myself because it’s helped me see the things I do well, which helps me feel good about who I am. When I have new adventures and new experiences, I learn new things about myself, and sometimes I learn that I’m good at something I didn’t expect to be good at. It’s always a surprise, but they are happy surprises.
Don: What are you proudest of?
Reggie: Being a good friend. I’ve learned a lot from being friends with Kaye and Beau. It’s taught me that even when I don’t understand what someone else is thinking or feeling, I need to be patient and not take things personally. I’ve learned that friends always look out for each other. Everyone has different things they’re good at, so even if you’re not good at something, probably one of your friends can help you with it. And it’s helped me be a better friend to myself, because learning to see the good in my friends helps me practice seeing the good in myself. Being a good friend has meant learning to make good choices, and to do what’s right for the group. And we have lots of fun and adventures together. My friends are the best!