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Nurse writes debut book to help children battle dyslexia

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A nurse who was tormented as a child because of her dyslexia has published her first book in her bid to help youngsters with the condition.

Beth Montgomery based the central character in The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle, mirroring her own childhood, and drew all the illustrations as well as writing the story.

“I had a Eureka moment, I could write about my experience as a child”

Beth Montgomery

At one point, she said she felt so bad that she tried to take her own life, an experience that scared her so much she has never tried it again.

“I was bullied beyond belief as a child and people thought I was stupid,” she said. “People were horrific and I went through a really bad time.

“If people don’t understand you, they can really victimise you which can have a really bad long-term effect – I still get really, really, angry these days,” she said.

Ms Montgomery, 43, was not diagnosed with dyslexia until she was 37 but it has not held her back. She has a nursing degree from Nottingham University, a degree in textile and fashion design from De Montfort University and a master’s in creative writing from Nottingham Trent University.

After stints as a teacher and a shoe designer, she became a qualified nurse and now looks after patients with Alzheimer’s disease in a Nottingham care home. It was an experience during a nursing shift that inspired her to create Azzie Artbuckle, she said.

De Montfort University Leicester

Nurse writes debut book to help children battle dyslexia

Beth Montgomery

“I came across a lovely patient who started talking to me, telling me her life story. It was really heart-breaking because she herself was terminally ill,” said Ms Montgomery.

“We began talking about her children, and how she was worried about their future, especially her eldest, who suffered badly from dyslexia,” she said. “She was especially worried about him, as he was also being bullied, and was only a youngster in primary school.

“To say her comments upset me is an understatement, and I tried my hardest not to break down then and there, as my own demons came back to haunt me,” said Ms Montgomery.

“After my shift finished, I went home and couldn’t sleep, regardless of having just finished a gruelling 12-hour night shift,” she said. “This patient’s child’s story kept playing over and over in my head.

“I needed to try to help. After a few days of wracking my brain I sat down and drafted a story about a little girl called Azzie Artbuckle. Azzie is about primary school age and is bright, creative, funny, and will do anything to help others, but she has a secret, people at school think she is stupid.

“Although she tries really hard, words never make sense to her. I suppose you could say Azzie was me,” said Ms Montgomery.

De Montfort University Leicester

Nurse writes debut book to help children battle dyslexia

The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle

“I had a Eureka moment, I could write about my experience as a child – I had the big idea that I could wipe out the stigma of dyslexia,” she added.

The paperback was published on 31 January and already the author has received a lot of feedback from children who loved reading it, as well as rave reviews, radio interviews and media interest.

Ms Montgomery said: “There was one girl who said she could really relate to Azzie. Another said he cried with joy just to have someone that he could relate to. I do feel I’m helping children already, which is really important to me.”

She is now visiting schools, talking to pupils about her book and holding workshops for children with dyslexia.

She is also planning her second book, taking Azzie further and delving into the world of autism.

The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle is published by Your Stories Matter and is available from Amazon, Foyles, Waterstones and all leading bookstores.

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