Review of: Hacking the Code. The Ziggety Zaggety Road of a D-Kid, by Gea Meijering

Review by Ute Limacher-Riebold

 

Hacking the Code: this is exactly what reading feels like for dyslexic children! Words and letters are like a code they don’t have a key for. 

This chapter book illustrates the life and journey of Kees (pronounced in the Dutch way!), a dyslexic boy who is good at science, fixing things with his hands, making friends, drawing, solving other people’s problems, pulling pranks etc. 

In this highly entertaining book, Gea Meijering addresses misperceptions about dyslexia, this “hidden disability” that is not visible to others which makes it so difficult to spot! She reveals the fear and struggles dyslexic children face, from being bullied and called lazy, or being tested for spelling skills at school, to general misunderstandings and impatience from others. But far from shedding a negative light on dyslexia, Gea Meijering illustrates in inspiring and encouraging ways how the protagonist Kees masters those everyday situations with creativity and grit, and manages to help others by doing so.

The protagonist Kees takes the reader through a series of everyday scenarios at school, with family and friends. For example, when he explains vividly how he perceives and understands complex subjects without needing to read about them. When the task at school is to build a bug: “I don’t even have to look at the instructions. I can see it in my head how to put the bug together.” (p.91). Or when he shares his struggles with writing an essay with his mother: “It’s a disaster. I can’t write that essay. You know me, I hate writing. It’s  like getting teeth pulled. My head always feels like a pinball machine. Ding, ding, ding, ding. Thoughts bounce around my skull, but can’t seem to get them out on paper. I can draw my thoughts. Totally fine with that. But writing it down. Nah! It will take forever. My brain is cracking and my stomach hurts, every vein in my body protests. Blocking everything. It’s making me very uncomfortable all the time. Do you know what I mean, Mom? It’s like you and Dad filling out your tax papers. I always hear Dad swearing when it’s time to do that. It’s not something new for you two! Is it? You’ve done it a million times. And lucky for you that’s only once a year”. (p.65). As dyslexic parents have a 40-60% chance to have dyslexic children, the conversation Kees has with his dyslexic Opa (grandfather), who shares encouraging tips and strategies with him, adds a very important perspective to the topic.

Hacking the Code raises the awareness of children’s rights and needs to be given the right code to function in our world. The way Kees explains it to his principal towards the end of the book sums it up nicely: “Just like you can’t run Android software on an Apple device. I am constantly hacking the Android code to make something of it, if anything… The school needs to give lessons to those kids with an Apple brain in the right code. Simple!” (p.162) If you want to find out whether you have an “Apple brain or an Android brain” you can take Kees’ quiz in the final chapter of the book.

If you are looking for a book that explains what being dyslexic entails in a fun and entertaining way, or if you want your dyslexic child to identify with the main character of an inspiring book, Hacking the Code is a must read!

I recommend this book to 6+ to 12 year old children, as well as their parents and teachers, educators, school principals, policy makers, speech and language pathologists, as it invites to see dyslexia from an encouraging perspective with emphasis on the potential that lies in having dyslexic children in the classroom and in the society!

 

It is about time that neuro-divergent children are recognized by what they are capable of, and to finally understand that they are not any less than others, as their strength lies in other domains than our current system tends to value more.

 

Hacking the Code is easy to read for dyslexic people thanks to the letter spacing and the many illustrations by Mads Johan Øgaard

 

 

To make reading “Hacking the Code” more motivating for all dyslexic children, especially for emergent readers, I suggest combining the book with the audio version.

My wish after reading this book is for a similar book with a female protagonist since dyslexic girls tend to be under-identified, and translations in all possible languages to “spread the word” as wide as possible. 


Teachers can find a free Lesson Plan & Activity Guide to download on this website: http://icarepress.com/

 

 

 

Last but not least, I invite you to follow @icarepress and @hacking.the.code on Instagram and Facebook.

 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2024 (1/25/25) is in its 11th year! Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen founded this non-profit children’s literacy initiative; they are two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural diverse books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

Read Your World’s mission is to raise awareness of the need to include kids’ books celebrating diversity in homes and school bookshelves. Read about our Mission and history HERE.

 

 

Read Your World celebrates Multicultural Children’s Book Day and is honored to be Supported by these Medallion and Ruby Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Pragmaticmom) and Valarie Budayr (Audreypress.com)

🏅 Super Platinum Sponsor: Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

🏅 Platinum Sponsors: Publisher Spotlight, Language Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ Languages, Lerner Publishing Group

🏅 Gold Sponsors:  Barefoot Books, Astra Books for Young Readers

🏅 Silver Sponsors: Red Comet Press, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Lee and Low Books, Cardinal Rule Press

🏅 Bronze Sponsors: CK Malone, Tonya Duncan Ellis, Anita Crawford Clark, Star Bright Books, Blue Dot Kids Press, Brunella Costagliola, Red Fin, Fabled Films 

Ruby Sponsor: Crayola 

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