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Mother-and-son authors design books for children with dyslexia

MADISON – Carol Hale and her son Ivan Mader frequently collaborate, like traveling around the world. Currently, they are corresponding across the world to develop curriculum for dyslexic students.

A Madison resident, Carol has worked as a writer and curriculum designer for 25 years by publishing books, newspapers and a free website that promotes literacy with Bible stories. She previously wrote for “The Madison Spirit.”

Ivan now lives in Hungary and works as a registered nurse and freelance artist. He is engaged to Szi Szi, a Hungarian student he met in medical school.

To develop their curriculum for dyslexics, Carol teamed up with Ivan as they traveled throughout Hungary, Turkey and Israel. Ivan drew while Carol directed.

“When my creativity ran out, I would turn the ideas over to Ivan. He has the unique ability to see what most of us never will,” Carol said. Carol and Ivan created “pictures” for more than 125 phonograms.

“These are pretty revolutionary,” Carol said. “These images can be used by struggling readers or any new reader. The humor and shapes give students the mental memory hook they need.”

Carol has witnessed children recall their phonics with “Funny Phonograms.” “Instead of failure, they have success. It has been very rewarding,” she said.

The package of Laughing Letters and Funny Phonograms includes books, flashcards, a 50-page guide and nine PowerPoint presentations. Finished in early May, “Read in Pictures” curriculum now is available at the “Teachers Pay Teachers” website. The price is $25. Search for “Funny Phonograms” at teacherspayteachers.com.

Carol and Ivan’s latest undertaking was a special card for Mother’s Day that included a bookmark and coloring poem. “The inspiration came from a card that Ivan created for me when he was about 13 years old,” Carol said. “The card depicted both my boys hanging from a tree. The words on their shirts read ‘MoM’ and ‘WoW.’ I have always loved that card.”

“This time, instead of using pencil and paper, he used his laptop and stylus from his flat in Hungary. He made images of boys and girls of various ethnicities. The gift of love and giving keeps on ‘drawing’ ‘oohs and aahs’ from around the world,” Carol said.

In previous ventures, Carol, Ivan and Carol’s other son Hans, a mechanical engineer in Denver, were commissioned to visit an elephant conservancy center in Thailand. They created a learning package to support the endangered Asian elephant population.

“That was the trip of a lifetime,” Carol said. “The most amazing part was taking the elephants wading in a pond. We rode the elephants in the water while they were squirting each other!”

In other travels, Ivan and Carol pursued their first overseas mission trip in Honduras with Asbury United Methodist Church. “The team traveled up steep mountains bringing medicine and medical care to the poorest of the poor. Ivan helped to provide reading glasses for the elderly, shots for younger children and medicine for the elderly,” she said.

“The art that came off Ivan’s pencil, ‘Portraits from Honduras,’ became part of the winning team that earned Bob Jones High School another first place as the best art program in the entire USA,” Carol said.

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