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Although I am not dyslexic myself, I regularly receive requests from library patrons looking for dyslexia-friendly children’s books. But just in case, let’s say you’re not quite sure what dyslexia actually means, and let’s start with some information. I like the definition given on the Made by dyslexia foundation website: “a genetic difference in an individual’s ability to learn and process information”.
Generally speaking, it’s a different way of thinking. Some markers of dyslexia include having to read something multiple times before it makes sense, regularly losing space while reading, finding traditional book pages too cluttered, and spelling problems due to omission or transposition of words. Additionally, readers with dyslexia may struggle to break down the words to be spoken. It’s not something to be cured either, but many children with dyslexia can learn coping strategies that help them read. If you want to learn more about dyslexia and ways to teach reading fluency to different audiences, you can find more information about it in this article by literacy teacher Mikkaka Overstreet.
In my own efforts to educate myself further, I have compiled this list of books written for children with dyslexia. The books are formatted specifically to encourage easier treatment for children with dyslexia. For example, many use large fonts resembling handwriting, wider spacing, and images with strong black and white ink contrast. Graphic designer Christian Boer, who is dyslexic, created a font called Dyslexie. He developed it specifically to support reluctant and dyslexic readers – making letters like ‘b’ and ‘d’ heavier at the bottom, giving larger than usual openings in letters like ‘a’ and ‘ e’, and extending ancestors and descendants. Another way to help dyslexic readers is that many of these books have short chapters, allowing readers to stop and take breaks without interrupting the flow of the story.
I hope this list will give you ideas on how to support the learning process of all the neurodivergent children you know.
Picture books for children with dyslexia
The Map Challenge: A Book About Dyslexia by Tracy Packiam Alloway and Ana Sanfelippo
This picture book is part of a series aimed at explaining neurodivergent functioning to children. In this story, a boy named Sammy helps his friends when they lose a map on a camping trip.
Aaron Slater, illustrator by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
At Beaty and Roberts The Interrogators the series is still delicious. In the latter title, they feature a dyslexic little boy named Aaron. When his teacher asks the class to write a story, Aaron struggles to put the words to paper. Eventually, however, he finds a way to share through art.
You just have to ask! Be different, be brave, be you by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael López
Not exclusively about dyslexia, rather it covers a wide range of diverse abilities. Explaining neurological and physical abilities to children (and adults, frankly) isn’t always easy, but Justice Sotomayor’s text celebrates the diversity of people and provides an important opening for adults and children to discuss how all people have different abilities.
Chapter Books for children with dyslexia
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon (Tom Gates #1)
Pichon grew up with undiagnosed dyslexia, which she only realized when her eldest son was diagnosed. So she designed the Tom Gates series on what visually works for them, explaining in a Huffington Post interview that their diagnoses helped “remember the kinds of things he and I loved when we were that age, struggling with words. I liked comics and visual books, books you could open and immediately access the story.
The wild book by Margarita Engle
Written in verse, this historical fiction takes place in Cuba and tells the story of a young girl named Fefa. Told that she is “word blind” (an antiquated term for dyslexia), Fefa struggles to defy other people’s expectations and learn to read. When her mother gives her a notebook to write, Fefa begins to learn on her own terms.
Diary of a dyslexic schoolboy by Alais Winton and Zac Millard
Winton is a tutor who works with dyslexic children and her co-author, Zac Millard, is a dyslexic teenager. In addition to providing dyslexic children with a relatable protagonist and a fun story, it also gives helpful advice based on Millard’s real-life experiences.
Bookmarks are people too (This is Hank #1) by Henry Winkler, Lin Oliver and Scott Garrett
Inspired by his own dyslexia, beloved comic actor Winkler has written a series of books that top many lists of dyslexia-friendly children’s books. There are seven total entries in the series, but this first follows a nervous Hank as he takes part in the school play. He’s a lovely, quick-witted little boy that you can’t help but cheer for, and the book is so deliciously weird!
Grandpa Bert and the Ghost Snatchers by Malorie Blackman and Melanie Demmer
When Anna and Kasper’s grandmother comes for a visit, she brings an unexpected bridegroom – the ghost of Grandpa Bert! Unfortunately, with their spectral relationship comes a whole host of problems. This book was published by Barrington Stoke, a Scottish publishing house specializing in creating books for reluctant and dyslexic readers. Visit their site and you will find many dyslexia-friendly books for children.
The Great (Food) Bank Heist by Onjali Q. Raúf and Elisa Paganelli
Another dyslexia-friendly title from Barrington Stoke, Raúf tells an exciting adventure story centered around the theme of food poverty. Nelson, Ashley and their mother go to the food bank every week until a thief starts “running away with food”. As the shelves emptied, Nelson set out to find out who the (food) bank robber was.
fish in a tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Although this novel is not formatted in any particular way, it is an excellent novel centered on a dyslexic character. Ally is pretty good at hiding her inability to read. She is ashamed to ask for help, but ends up doing so with the support of her teacher, Mr. Daniels. Ultimately, she learns that there’s no one way to learn that works for everyone, and so she’s no less smart because she needs different things.
Graphic novels for dyslexic children
Dr dyslexia man by Dr. Shawn Robinson, Inshirah Robinson and Brandon Hadnot-Walker
Robinson based this graphic novel on her own experiences, hoping to empower neurodivergent students. The book positions Robinson’s replacement as a brave superhero who will inspire kids to be resilient and successful. Visit the official page if you want to learn more about this exciting project, including interviews with the creative team behind it.
Non-fiction for children with dyslexia
Xtraordinary People: Created by Dyslexia By Kate Griggs and Steven Woods
Author Griggs is the founder of Made By Dyslexia, a global charity run by people with dyslexia that strives to educate and empower people about the positive qualities of their way of thinking. Griggs writes encouragingly about dyslexia, calling it an “Xtraordinary way of thinking” and encouraging children to find and appreciate their talents.
These dyslexia-friendly books for kids are so crucial – not only do they describe different ways of thinking and processing, but many also break down barriers to reading. And, really, getting kids excited about books is always the first step to developing a love of reading.
For more children’s book recommendations, be sure to check out our enlightened children’s page.