Spotlight Series: E.B. Lewis
October is Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia Awareness Month. This month at Lexplore, we will spotlight some authors and illustrators who have learning issues and share some favorite books for kids who struggle with reading.
E.B. Lewis is an “Artistrator” of more than 70 children’s books, including Coming on Home Soon, Because of Winn Dixie, Talkin’ About Bessie and Keeping the Night Watch. His award-winning watercolor illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful. His work has earned him The Caldecott Honor and the Orbis Pictus award, among others. His artwork is also part of major private collections and is displayed in galleries throughout the United States and internationally.
As a child, Mr. Lewis struggled with reading. He was aware that there were “2 groups” of kids in school. He wasn’t sure how to classify the differences but knew that there was something wrong. His struggle was especially apparent when asked to read aloud. Therefore, he fine-tuned his toolbox of coping mechanisms. He would take the reading home, read at his own pace until he memorized the material and when called on again, he could “recite” the text from memory. He had an incredible ability to memorize and retain the words on a page so that he could “read” when called upon. Even as an adult, when Mr. Lewis knows that he will need to read in front of an audience, he will put the text to memory ahead of time.
He always loved books and the idea of reading, so continued to push forward and find other ways to excel. Art became his medium early on. E.B. believes that many creative people are dyslexic—they have a love for books, stories, etc., but find different pathways to express their abilities.
E.B. Lewis did not learn that he was dyslexic until doing graduate work and studying special education. When reading about dyslexia, he had a light bulb moment of “aha—that’s me!” Rarely is dyslexia even mentioned in interviews with E.B. Lewis. Nor is it included in most of his bios. He talks about his reading struggles and his self-diagnosis of dyslexia in a 2013 interview with Reading Rockets, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLLxDwKxHx1yJzRGFKqrZbtEQj8IPU5Dnf&time_continue=6&v=N8zXB8eDn2A&feature=emb_logo