Mirror reading

Dawson Psychology teacher, Shelagh Robinson gave a MirrorRead last Saturday

By Gabe Gilker

The snow and cold wasn’t enough to stop a room full of kids at the Mile- End Library to show up and experience Shelagh Robinson’s original MirrorRead books at 10:15 a.m. Saturday morning.
Robinson is a Psychology teacher at Dawson who has created her own style of books based on Leonardo Da Vinci and Lewis Caroll, author of Alice in Wonderland. With four more books coming out on top of the four already available to the public, along with the applications Robinson is one of the first people to market and explore this idea that Da Vinci created centuries ago, and the original letters to the real Alice were written in.

“When I found this out I started making my own mirror-read things, I would write out texts and flip them by hand. I’ve been making these kinds of books for over 20 years now for all my nieces and nephews.” Robinson said.

All the text in these very strange books is written from right to left and backwards. The books were designed to be read in front of a mirror with a child. Why? Ever notice when you read side-by-side with someone you can never really see their reactions? Well reading in front of a mirror gives you a new perspective on reading and more eye-contact.

These books go beyond “just a children’s book.” Adults benefit from this mirror-reading as well. When the brain reads from right to left it engages both sides of the brain. Not only does it engage the creative left side, but it also activates the problem solving right side too.

“Every time we activate the right side the brain matter growth in that hemisphere of our brain actually changes when we activate it.” Robinson said, “So by mirror reading you are actually transforming your brain.”

Robinson has also developed two new applications made for the iPad or iPod. The first one is like a translator, it takes entire web pages and mirrors them so you are forced to read backwards.

“It takes a little practice to start reading backwards, but with practice it becomes easier and easier, and don’t get discouraged if your kids are better at it than you are, they can do it faster naturally,” Robinson said.

The second application is a sort of Scrabble-like game, with having to spell words backwards within the time limit. The way to reach a high score is to write longer and more complex words than your opponent.

“We’re in the process of making more applications for the iPad and iPod, like crossword puzzles and Sudoku,” Robinson said, “Sudoku backwards is a completely different experience.”

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