Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. An estimated 1 in 5 Americans have dyslexia, representing as many as 90% of all people with learning disabilities, according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.
Going back to school each fall can be especially challenging for students with dyslexia and not all educational institutions are equipped with staff and resources to help children with learning challenges. But parents and caregivers can give their students a leg up by learning more about this disability themselves. Library staff have gathered a resource list that can make that first day of school less stressful for their children.
Adult Titles to Help You Build Your Knowledge of Dyslexia
Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction by Margaret J. Snowling
In this very short introduction, Snowling efficiently covers the essentials: reading development, the cognitive causes of dyslexia, environment, genes, the dyslexic brain, what works for dyslexia and caveats, comorbidities, and compensation. As an established expert on the subject, Snowling is able to present all of this information in a concise manner that lays out the foundational elements of reading and the potential factors that may be the source of a dyslexia diagnosis. To further illustrate this point, Snowling introduces us to three different dyslexic individuals to show how dyslexia affects different individuals at different stages of their reading development.
Dyslexia and Me: How to Survive and Thrive If You're Neurodivergent by Onyinye Udokporo
In this book, which has been created using dyslexia friendly text and layout, the author aims to highlight that dyslexia is something to be embraced, not to be seen as a ‘burden.’ She aims to share how to uncover each person’s unique set of gifts and has even set up an online company (Enrich Learning) which serves a wide range of people around the world. Udokporo also explores some aspects of how her parents, as immigrants from Nigeria, worked extremely hard to provide her with additional academic tuition and enriching activities and how the ways in which her parents challenged cultural traditions impacted her upbringing and aspirations.
Books for Parents and Caregivers Looking for Ways to Support Their Child:
The founder of Don’t Hide It, Flaunt It, an organization based around embracing differences, Zucker outlines how parents can let go of the notion of perfection, embrace honesty, and find contentment with life as it is. Humor, perspective, and taking a break from social media can all help. In addition to the author’s tips, words of wisdom from other parents are also included. This book serves as a guide to give children the freedom to try the unimaginable and it empowers them to follow their passions.
This is a practical, hands-on workbook that is written in a student-friendly style with an enlarged font and it recognizes the difficulties students with specific learning difficulties face. Well-established learning techniques are integrated into the activities in each chapter and the author encourages the reader to engage actively in preparing for their exams.
Dyslexia Advocate!: How to Advocate for a Child with Dyslexia within the Public Education System by Kelli Sandman-Hurley
Using case studies and examples, this book demonstrates clearly how to apply the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to the unique requirements of a dyslexic child. It offers simple, intelligible help for parents on how to coordinate successfully with their child's school and achieve the right services and support for their dyslexic child; up to and beyond getting an effective Individual Education Plan (IEP).
The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by Brock L. Eide, MD, MA, and Fernette F. Eide, MD.
In this new edition, the authors analyze new research with modern techniques to emphasize a strength-based approach to dyslexia, instead of the typical deficit-based strategy. They assert that the same pattern of brain organization that leads to struggles can be harnessed to become one's skills and exceptional strengths. Therefore, they believe that dyslexia should be viewed as a learning and processing style, not a disorder. In their extensive research and numerous studies, the authors found that people diagnosed with dyslexia have impressive skills in material, interconnected, narrative, and dynamic reasoning.
This is a book for parents and teachers, dyslexics and non-dyslexics, and anyone open to understanding a condition which is often hidden in plain sight. The author shares his understanding of the dyslexic mind from his own lived experience as a dyslexic child, an angry adolescent, a therapist and eventually an author. When describing what it is like to be dyslexic, he includes himself. “We think in pictures, we chase words around the pages of books, and we have trouble finding any sensible connection between squiggles on paper and real things they are meant to refer to. And this all happens in perpetual reverse gear. You guessed it, for us, school is not cool, and for most of us this makes life tough.”
Practical Activities and Ideas for Parents of Dyslexic Kids and Teens by Gavin Reid, Michelle McIntosh and Jenn Clark.
The book is aimed at supporting parents of children with a wide range of ages and opens with an overview of dyslexia that answers some common questions, drawing on some current research and explaining what to expect from an assessment and subsequent diagnosis. The activities follow a format that integrates a multisensory approach and provides clear instructions, rationale, and worked examples, as well as highlighting why the activity is particularly relevant to the dyslexic student.
Books for Your Child:
Decodables: Decodable books support independent reading and are the first step on the path to children reading any book they choose. These books focus on letter-sound relationships such as:
- closed syllables or consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words (e.g. cat, sun)
- consonant blends, digraphs (stop, chin)
- long vowels with silent-e (e.g. make, nice)
- vowel teams (e.g. boat, tie, bee)
- r-controlled vowels (e.g. car, sister, fork)
- consonant-le (e.g. table, sprinkle)
With decodable books children use their phonics knowledge to read instead of guessing, relying on pictures or skipping words. As kids learn more of the alphabetic code, more books will become decodable and they'll move on to more and more complex letter-sound patterns.
Brian P. Cleary has a series of decodables called Phonics Fun. They follow a sequence and have brightly colored illustrations that often engage kids. Start with Book 1: The Hen in the Den: Short Vowel Sounds.
The Meg and Greg Series by Elspeth Rae look like chapter books from the outside, but they are actually a collection of short stories focused on phonics. Start with Book 1: A Duck in a Sock: With Four Phonics Stories.
Books to Share that help explain Dyslexia for Children:
Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty
Emerging readers with dyslexia will feel Aaron's anguish deeply, as he thinks he's failed to tell his story. But in this title the teacher's reaction to his storytelling is a beautiful way to bring out the very best in a child. The focus on diversity of backgrounds, abilities, and learning styles allows readers to see themselves on the pages, and the extensive amount of information about dyslexia and other learning challenges is great background for kids and adults alike.
A Walk in the Words by Hudson Talbott
Author-illustrator Talbott shares his personal experience of growing up with dyslexia in this picture book that will help other “slow readers” feel seen and, refreshingly, celebrated. Dyslexia is not specifically mentioned until his author’s note at the end of the book. Whether a child is dyslexic or merely gaining reading fluency slower than their peers, they will appreciate all that Talbott does here to lift the stigma around those who don’t read quickly
Dyslexia by Robin Twiddy
Presented using age-appropriate language, full-color photographs, and informative fact boxes, this empathetic guide educates without talking down to young readers. Instead, it presents them with a relatable narrative structure that introduces different viewpoints and encourages acceptance, empathy, and inclusivity.
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Compiled in collaboration with Laura C., DPL Central Children's Librarian