Sunday, February 25 , 2018, 11:56 am | Fair 60º

 
 
 
 

Writers Speak Up for Record-A-Thon

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Lou Cannon, Fannie Flagg, Kevin McKiernan and Sander Vanocur lend their voices to cause.

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Renowned journalists Lou Cannon and Sander Vanocur, author Fannie Flagg and documentary filmmaker Kevin McKiernan added their voices Wednesday to books being recorded for students challenged by the printed word. The creative forces in their respective fields weighed in as Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic’s 13th annual Record-A-Thon continued this week.

Cannon, President Ronald Reagan’s biographer, has a personal connection to dyslexia through his son, Jack.

“Jack’s done quite well: he’s a graduate of a music school, and now he operates a high-end restaurant, the Eastern Standard, in Boston," Cannon said. "But when he was diagnosed with dyslexia in the fourth grade, we didn’t know anything about it. We were fortunate first that we found out what it was, and that we had the resources to help him.

"Dyslexia is a burden first of understanding what it is, and then getting the resources," he continued. "I think it’s an issue that affects many, many people.”

In fact, recent research indicates as many as one in six individuals may have some form of dyslexia. Cannon read from his new book, Reagan’s Disciple: George W. Bush’s Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy, which he co-authored with another son, Carl.

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Flagg, whose screenplay for her book, Fried Green Tomatoes, earned her an Oscar nomination, fought her own battle with dyslexia.

“When I was growing up people didn’t know what it was, they just thought I was slow," she said. "When I found out what was the matter I realized that I wasn’t dumb … I had a learning disability."

Praising the work of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, Flagg said, “I am thrilled about what RFB&D is doing. I wish that we had these new learning tools when I was in school.”

Flagg read from her own Redbird Christmas for RFB&D’s audio library. Asked if she had any problems reading it, she responded, “No,” then smiled, “because I have it memorized.”

Vanocur is a 53-year journalism veteran and longtime NBC news correspondent.

“What I think is important is that an organization like RFB&D says, ‘Let me take your hand,’”  said Vanocur, who added his voice to former NBC colleague Tom Brokaw’s most recent book about the 1960s generation, Boom!

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Filmmaker and journalist Kevin McKiernan, who is working on a new and timely documentary about bringing the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. to China, attended Record-A-Thon today and met Marisa Maiani, one of the students who uses the RFB&D audio book service.

“I was impressed by this college student, who spoke about how she is being helped by RFB&D,” he said. “She said that the biggest problem was getting people to be more aware of this service and how it can transform lives like it did her own.

“Like all of life, awareness produces responsibility," added McKiernan, who read from John Irving’s Hotel Hampshire. "A lot of us avoid awareness because then we have to be responsible for it — ‘I have to do something about it.’”

All books being recorded this week as part of the Record-A-Thon will be added to the Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic’s audio lending library for students with print disabilities.

The Record-A-Thon continues through noon Saturday. Click here for more information or to sign up, or call 805.681.0531.

Kathy Wertheim is with Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.

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