Young and Dylexic? You've Got it Going On


Zephaniah is outlining the issues that he encountered with his dyslexia. He outlines the times when he was expelled and how his sister used to help him.


Zephaniah was born in Birmingham on 15th April 1958. As a black Rastafarian, he has encountered racial prejudice all his life. He is influenced by his Caribbean heritage.

Young and Dylexic? You've Got it Going On, figure 1

author’s purpose

Benjamin Zephaniah is a famous writer. He wrote this piece for ‘The Guardian’ and he aims to reassure his readers that you can achieve success with dyslexia. He is challenging the stereotypes that are assumed by a community.



Throughout the extract is a theme of negativity: ‘no compassion, no understanding and no humanity.’ He outlines his shame at society for not being positive.

He also writes that he ‘contradicted’ others. This suggests that he always feels as though he was different.

He outlines the harsh reality of stereotypes:

‘A high percentage of the prison population are dyslexic, and a high percentage of the architect population. If you look at the statistics, I should be in prison: a black man brought up on the wrong side of town whose family fell apart, in trouble with the police when I was a kid, unable to read and write, with no qualifications and, on top of that, dyslexic. But I think staying out of prison is about conquering your fears and finding your 40 path in life.’

He uses the long sentence to outline the numerous struggles that he has faced.

Pronoun Usage

Zephaniah address the audience to reassure any parent that has a child with dyslexia:

‘So don’t be heavy on yourself. And if you are a parent of someone with dyslexia don’t think of it as a defect. Dyslexia is not a measure of intelligence: you may have a genius 80 on your hands. Having dyslexia can make you creative. If you want to construct a sentence and can’t find the word you are searching for, you have to think of a way to write round it. This requires being creative and so your ‘creativity muscle’ gets bigger.’

He repetitively uses the pronoun ‘you’ to reassure his audience.

Zephaniah also uses the collective pronoun ‘we’ to include the audience: ‘As a child I suffered, but learned to turn dyslexia to my advantage, to see the world more creatively. We are the architects, we are the designers.’ This occurs at the beginning of the extract and creates a sense of inclusivity and community.


The events occur in chronological order. This means that the events unfold in the order that his life occurred. He uses ages to signal the time moving on. It is worth creating a list of all the events that took place, at all the different ages.


Within your examination, you will be asked a series of questions about the article.

Some of the questions will be short questions. For these questions, you must look at the number of marks in brackets. It is important to answer in full sentences.

Other questions will be long questions. For these questions, you must look at using analysis. You will also be asked to compare. Think carefully about the key comparisons and plan your answer first.

Assessment features are __coming soon: ____check back here in the next few days for the opportunity to ____unlock assessment ____and access ____teacher-written questions ____with ____model answers.

At what age did his sister write down the poems for him?
10 or 11
Explanation: His sister wrote the poems down at 10 or 11.
At what age did he get thrown out of school? (1 mark)
Explanation: He got thrown out of school at 13.