Dyslexia Creates with Tom McLaughlin

Dyslexia Creates with Tom McLaughlin


Today marks the beginning of Dyslexia Awareness Week 2020, and what better way to celebrate this year’s theme of #DyslexiaCreates than with a post from author, illustrator, proud dyslexic and all round creative star Tom McLaughlin. We were thrilled to recently welcome Tom to the Barrington Stoke family with the publication of Queen of King Street, and we know that he’ll be a huge inspiration to so many of our readers. 

Over to you Tom …


I often wonder what it would be like not to be dyslexic: not to be born with this brain. If there was a button to make it go away for ever, would I do it — would I press it? Would all the creativity instantly drain out of me? Would all my ideas melt away? In my head I imagine pressing the button, and rainbows and unicorns and all the other daft things that fill my brain would take flight out of my ears to find a new home: some other brain to make their own.  I would be a grey, empty shell of a human where once creativity and imagination had bubbled and popped away.

There are times when I wish my head was different, like when I have to read a new book aloud at an event. New books terrify me. I haven’t had the benefit of reading them over and over until I know them forwards and backwards like an actor learning their lines in a play. For me writing a book is much easier than reading one out loud, even when it’s one I’ve written. It’s very hard to avoid reading in front of people, but heck knows I’ve tried.

I was a sneaky kid, like most dyslexics are. We know what we’re not good at and we avoid it, whether it’s reading, writing, spelling … and what’s the other one? Oh yeah, forgetfulness. It’s something that you get used to: thinking on your feet to avoid people catching you out and knowing this thing about you. But even employing the best sneakery can’t always save you, whether you’re reading in front of the class at school or reading the questions out in a game of Trivial Pursuit among your friends. So you learn to compensate, or over-compensate — to be quick-witted and think on your feet. Instead of reading what’s there on the page, I improvise around it like some sort of jazz musician. And while it can be stressful, particularly when you’re a kid, it was all part of my training: thinking creatively, thinking quickly — thinking laterally!


In short it’s about becoming creative. Creativity isn’t just about writing and drawing; it’s about generating and using ideas. Dyslexia has taught me that. I see and hear ideas all the time. Funny little words or phrases that turn into wafer-thin ideas and slowly grow into book titles, characters or drawings. That’s what dyslexia has given me, and while I sometimes make mistakes when I read my books aloud, and even though that’s really hard, I just have to remember that there wouldn’t be a book in the first place if it wasn’t for dyslexia. So, unicorns, you can rest easy — I’ve got no plans to press that button yet. It’s my funny little brain and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.


Thank you so much Tom!

Visit Tom’s website to find out more about his hilarious books and drawings, or click on the image to take a look at his brand new book Queen of King Street