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Monday, January 24, 2022

The governor writes a children’s book on dyslexia

Posted by: Adam Beam | Associated Press

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom still can’t pronounce the word dress. He cannot read aloud from a sheet of paper in public. This is why his speeches are long, mostly from memory, and full of awkward moments when his words bump into each other.

Newsom accepts these problems as part of his dyslexia, a common learning disability that makes it harder for him to read and do many things related to reading. He has had dyslexia for most of his life, but recently it became more acute for him when he saw some of his own children fall behind in reading.

This prompted him to look for dyslexia picture books to use with his children. But he was surprised when there weren’t many of them. So he wrote one.

Ben & Emma’s Big Hit, published by Philomel books, came out on Tuesday. The book tells the story of a boy named Ben who uses baseball to cope with dyslexia, together with the help of a caring teacher and friend.

The book is a bridge that helps some dyslexic children understand why they find it harder to read. But beyond that, it’s a semi-autobiographical account of Newsom’s childhood that provides insight into what shaped his personality and his policies.

“It doesn’t go away. I do this every day, ”Newsom told The Associated Press. “So many people (with dyslexia) give up and it has tragic consequences. And others who do not give up (do not give up) begin to understand that this is the greatest gift in their life, and they cannot imagine life without it. It really was my experience. “

Newsom, a Democrat, left California on Monday to begin a New York book tour with interviews with national media. He has pledged to donate all proceeds from the book to the International Dyslexia Association.

Newsom said that due to his dyslexia, he made many mistakes at school that isolated him and made him anxious about reading. He said he often pretends to be sick to avoid reading in class.

But over time, Newsom said, mistakes made him resilient, which he said has become a useful tool in the world of politics.

“The problem is we are in the wreck and whenever I make a mistake it’s all about AP. And this is difficult, right? This is why we are careful. But this caution is perhaps the biggest mistake in politics and why people can no longer tolerate (politicians), ”Newsom said.

But Newsom said that people with dyslexia are “bug experts.”

“We’re like the pros,” he said.

Newsom didn’t find out he was dyslexic until he was 10 when he discovered some medical reports about him in his mother’s room. His mother, who was single and worked multiple jobs to support him and his sister, hid the diagnosis from him in order to protect him.

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But Newsom said that learning that he had a disability was a relief because he understood why he was having a hard time in school and that it had nothing to do with his intelligence. This discovery taught him to overcompensate for his shortcomings – which he says he still does.

Newsom said he cannot read or understand anything without taking notes, including underlining, circling, and putting asterisks next to words.

But because of this, it is difficult to read public speeches, so he compensated for this by developing his memory. His annual press conference, which announces his draft state budget, often lasts more than two hours, as Newsom, without notes, lays out facts and figures that he carefully memorized.

“You can ask me any budget figure for last year – public education, $ 123.9 billion,” Newsom said. “I have to be right, because I have to compensate too much, because I am very often wrong. So, you just find out that you need to do more. You need to be bigger, you need to work harder. You have to compete. “

The book, printed in a special typeface designed to help people with dyslexia read it, has a baseball theme because Newsom said as a child that his self-esteem was strengthened by the baseball diamond, where he saw the field of play better than the words written on the pages.

Newsom was good enough to get a partial baseball scholarship at Santa Clara University. He played little, but it earned him a four-year degree, which Newsom says was life-changing. After graduating from university, he founded a winery, which included several restaurants, wine cellars and retail stores, before going into politics.

Newsom, now 54, with four young children, said he sees dyslexia from a new parenting perspective and that this gave him a deeper appreciation for his mother, Tessa Newsom.

She died in 2002, and there is a subtle homage to her in the book. One scene takes place in the hallway of the school. Above the door is the room number “5902”, which corresponds to May 9, 2002, the day of Newsom’s mother’s death.

“You know, the only thing I could never express to her was deep gratitude for what she did for me, for how much she donated and how hard it must have been for her,” he said. “This is what this book is about. It’s about authenticity. It’s about going your own way. It’s about mistakes. It’s about not being afraid of failure. “

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