The Power of Reading, and Flying Solo

I began reading to my children when they were in the womb. I would also read my books aloud deliberately. As a writer, you are told to read aloud as you’ll hear errors better that way.

When my babies were tiny, I would type with them spreadeagled on my knees, and sometimes they would press the keys on the keyboard.


I was amazed when I first read to my toddlers because they would remember words as soon as I read them aloud to them. At first they would memorise whole sentences, and later they became able to read a word as soon as I read it to them. I sent my children to tutors to learn French, Spanish, and German.

By the time they are 7 or 8 children are able to read chapter books (short books of 5 plus chapters with no pictures), alone and unaided. We read Dick King Smith, Malorie Blackman, Anne Fine, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, and David Almond, Lemony Snicket, and later, Rowling, Ally Condie.


I have been writing children’s books for several decades. This year, I was awarded an MA in creative writing with distinction.

Why not check out some of my children’s classics on kindle. You can download kindle to your phone and read them to your children today.

Physical Book

If you prefer a read alone chapter book, my award-nominated work My Friend Alien is out as a comic style paperback too. The original looks like this the same as the image above. Please consider supporting the original My Friend Alien and not the book published by a similar name as it isn’t mine. I wrote my book years before and it was originally published in an anthology as part of a collection by Ursin Press as Flight. No prizes for guessing there is flying in this book.

Design and Learning and Tests. How Can Perception of Your Skills be a Problem or Barrier to Learning?

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about perception and this causes me to write this short essay in which I pose the question, ‘are you carrying a superpower around with you and believing that it is a weakness?’

Can you find the obvious error in the drawing below?

Illustration by Hermione Laake

Perception is caused by a fixed idea of something. And nothing is fixed. Well a few things are; the drawing above or a typo in a book. But growth happens. How do we grow except through asking questions which help us change our perception?

I pose this question because it is only in the last week that I have realised that some of my issues in the workplace have stemmed from my excellent visual perception.


I was in a role which required me to use the till. I won’t tell you where, and fortunately I have worked in several roles over the years and not all of them are on my CV, so you won’t be able to guess. The system had received a recent revamp and we were in the middle of till training on various processes because I was new to this till system. This new design threw me and set me right back in the training process. My manager was unsympathetic and stated that nothing had changed. Her words were ‘It’s exactly the same.’ I remember feeling utterly confused because to me everything on the screen had shifted; some of the icons had changed colour too. You see, like that robot, Klara, in Kazuo Ishiguro’s recent novel, I notice things. At the time, I didn’t realise my visual perception might be the problem. I had no idea I had excellent visual perception. I knew that I noticed things that others didn’t because on several occasions when something was new I had pointed out potential problems with the design of a process to bosses because to me they seemed very obvious. There was no problem with the design in this case, and my three colleagues were unfazed. The processes hadn’t changed, just the design. But I didn’t forget the experience because my manager was hostile toward me. She didn’t seem to understand that my visual perception was different from hers. To be fair, I had no idea what this meant either, but my experience training staff, and supporting teaching had taught me that we all learn and think differently, and I knew better than to argue. However, I was puzzled. Surely my three colleagues could see how much the design had changed.


This might have been an opportunity for us all to grow. I could have pointed out all the changes had my manager realised that it was my perception that was different. Yet I didn’t fully understand what had happened myself until I took a test last week and received 100% in it for visual perception.

I connected the dots, and realised what had happened. I was able to understand my habit of a life time, which had been to arrive early at work for the first few weeks when a new manager, once trained in processes, to memorise where everything was on the till.


Maybe I was a cat in a previous life because I seem to need to remember exactly where everything is like a cat. If you move a piece of furniture, it is likely that I will notice it. I am also one of those people who need to leave everything out on my desk in order to remember where it is. People call us messy. But it’s organised mess, a phrase I learnt from my first manager.

The thing is that not everybody notices things unless they are obviously messy in some way. We’ve all walked past a messy garden and wondered who lives there.

Some of us have more highly tuned skills than others in a particular area, and it turns out this is a skill I have. I noticed when several icons on a screen had moved to different areas. Because I had memorised the icons and their location, I would now have to relearn both, as well as any new designs.

I wish they would test visual perception at junior school and at different stages of education. I think we would be more self aware about our skills and areas where they might cause a difference in perception. Education shouldn’t be entirely predicated on learning fixed subjects and being tested on that knowledge. Education should also be about effective methods of teaching and testing and not purely predicated on results.


I remember working at a college in recent years where a colleague was designing a maths quiz to test knowledge. She asked me to take the test. We missed a learning opportunity then too, because my colleague wasn’t testing the ability of the design of her maths test to measure the results of effective learning, but she appeared to be sure that the fact that she had discovered that I couldn’t answer a question was proof that her system of questioning was a good and effective one, when in fact I felt frustrated because the design felt confusing and contributed to my failure to answer the questions correctly. I knew the answer to the question but the design or method of presenting the questions had caused the error. A learning opportunity for us both was missed because neither of us answered the question or posed the question, ‘why did you fail to answer the question correctly? Was it because you didn’t know the answer, or was it something else?’


On another occasion, I was presiding over some students who were sitting at computers using a programme to test maths knowledge which posed the same maths questions over and over again. The students answered the questions right or wrong. When wrong the whole process would begin again, but what this system was doing was embedding the wrong answer. Why? Because there was no opportunity for learning. I quickly understood this and would walk around discussing the problems with the students and how to arrive at the answer. This enabled the students to progress to a better result and learning to take place. Whereas, prior to this all that was happening was that the testing process was reinforcing the error. You needed to know the right answer to progress, but the system was throwing students into a loop of error. Failing meant retaking the test. No learning was taking place.

On the day I was leaving this placement, I was happy to learn that the flawed programme was being replaced.

Woedy Bear, a true lost and found story

A heartwarming story based on truth. Written for children and adults


Hello followers, I hope you are all well, and I appreciate your follows and likes and shares.

I have been away editing a crossover fantasy book about two father and son relationships which I wrote in 2006 and published with KDP in 2013.

This is a short post to share the cover, and from tomorrow the book will be available on a countdown deal with KDP. As ever, this is free on the Kindle library and all reading helps me keep writing. You can read a free extract on Kindle to get a flavour of the book. They have selected a lovely section from the middle for you.

WIP – If you were an early reader of #THE_MOTHERBOARD, then I will keep you posted on the progress of that as I am currently editing that one.

This year, I gained a distinction for my creative MA with Kingston university, London.

Keep reading and keep writing. Keep moving too.

All my love, Hermione.


Take a look at my video about my new book for children. It was nominated for an award in 2013 and I have published it in Kindle as a paperback and digitally from MONDAY. The digital copy will be fluorescent PINK from Monday January 10th.

My book goes live on Monday. Please consider supporting my writing journey by buying a digital copy and buying it for friends if you like it. (Did you know you can download the Kindle app on your phone in a few seconds and read books on your phone?)

I don’t make an income from my writing, and I would like to change that this year.

Also watch this space for a new cover by a very special artist coming later on in the year.

Thank you all for following my writing journey.


AM Yoga Space

All About Yoga Practice, Poses, and Benefits

Home Workout Habit- Your Source for the Best Home Exercise Gear

Our site covers the leading models of weight benches on the market designed for the beginner and the powerlifter. Learn how each bench rated with pro lifters.

About Literary Agent Adria Goetz

%d bloggers like this: