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Learning to Read with Dyslexia - Books and Resources for Families, Educators and Elementary Students

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month! Celebrate all year long with these library resources centering dyslexic characters and materials that tutors trained at the Children's Dyslexia Center--Madison have found helpful.

Audiobooks are also a great way to empower dyslexic readers! Libraries offer many books on CD, Playaway, or as audio-enabled copies of print books, as well as downloadable audiobooks through Wisconsin's Digital Library.

Selected Resources for Working with Dyslexic Learners

Cover images of four titles in the In Bloom series
Cherry Lake Publishing

The In Bloom series offers curriculum-based chapter books that ease younger readers into reading. Each book uses decodable text, a repetition of sight words, and sequenced vowel sounds to raise recognition and confidence. Original illustrations help guide readers through the text. Cecilia Minden, Ph.D., a literacy consultant and former director of the Language and Literacy program at Harvard Graduate School of Education, created the series and format.

Cover of A Duck in a Sock
Elspeth Rae
Rowena Rae
Elisa Gutiérrez
Orca Book Publishers

A Duck in a Sock is the first book in the Orca Two Read Meg and Greg series designed for shared reading between a child learning to read and an experienced reader. Inside you'll find four stories that introduce one new phonogram (a letter or combination of letters that represent a sound) in each story: the ck, sh, ch and th phonograms. Each story builds on the previous ones by including words with the phonograms already introduced. The learner pages are formatted similar to comics, an added draw for fans of graphic novels.

Cover of The Magic Belt Series
Phonic Books Ltd

An engaging fantasy series of 12 short books for older, "catch-up" students, these books start at CVC/CVCC level text, then build up reading skills in a step-by-step phonic progression, allowing practice and consolidation at each level. Work your way through one book at a time, starting with The Man in the Mist, or check if the set is available. Then, keep reading with The Talisman Series to check back in with hero Zak and explore more alternative spellings for the vowel sounds: ae, oe er ow/oi, oo, ie, or, air, and ar.



Cover of The Alba Series
Phonic Books

Alba lives in London in the UK with her family. Her dad is a scientist who is trying to save the world's apple trees from a breed of superbugs destroying them. When someone tries to steal the last apple seed, Alba must get it safely to Dad, even though the would-be-thief shrinks her to just four inches tall! Will she succeed in crossing the city and getting the seed safely to Dad? Will she ever be a normal size again? Find out in the whole series of 12 short books which start at CVC/CVCC level text.

Cover of The Spelling Pen in Elf La
Simple Words Books

Matt has trouble with writing and spelling, so he is NOT excited when he receives a pen for his tenth birthday. Luckily it's a magic pen... Spelling Pen in Elf Land has 16 chapters and over 7000 words. The entire word list and word frequency are included in the book. Keep reading with Spelling Pen book 2, Red Obelisk!

Cover of Essentials of Dyslexia Ass
Nancy Mather
Barbara J Wendling
J. Wiley

A practical guide to understanding, assessing, and helping individuals who have dyslexia; conveniently formatted for rapid reference.

Cover of Overcoming Dyslexia (secon
Shaywitz, M.D.
Jonathan Shaywitz M.D.
Alfred. A. Knopf

From one of the world's leading experts on reading and dyslexia comes the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and practical book yet to help one understand, identify, and overcome the reading problems that plague American children today. For the one in every five children who has dyslexia and the millions of others who struggle to read at their own grade levels--as well as for their parents, teachers, and tutors--this book can make a difference.

Cover of Uncovering the Logic of En
Logic of English, Inc.

Uncovering the Logic of English challenges the notion that English is illogical by systematically explaining English spelling and answering questions like "Why is there a silent final E in have, large, and house?" and "Why is discussion spelled with -sion rather than -tion?" With easy-to-read examples and anecdotes, this book describes: the phonograms and spelling rules which explain 98% of English words; how English words are formed and how this knowledge can revolutionize vocabulary development; how understanding the reasons behind English spelling prevents students from needing to guess. The author's inspiring commentary makes a compelling case that understanding the logic of English could transform literacy education and help solve America's literacy crisis.

Cover of Unlocking Literacy: Effect
Marcia K.
Paul H. Brookes

Developed for general and special educators of students from prekindergarten to middle school and beyond, the new edition of this bestselling literacy textbook arms teachers with updated research and shows them how to apply their knowledge in the classroom to help all students become skillful readers. Focusing on two interlocking skills - decoding and spelling - this textbook gets teachers ready to promote students' print awareness and phonological awareness through letter naming, latter forming, and listening and speaking activities ; improve students' spelling skills by teaching the origins of English words, Anglo-Saxon base words, Latin affixes and roots, Greek combining forms, and multisyllabic words ; helps students understand and correctly use the components of the English language, including common consonant and vowel patterns, syllable patterns, prefixes and suffixes, and contractions ; deepen older students' proficiency with langauge by introducing less common Latin roots and Greek combining forms and new words entering the English language.

Cover of Helping students take cont
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

This book presents an innovative model for strengthening and developing executive function in any student, including those with attention, memory, organization, planning, inhibition, initiative, and flexibility difficulties. It provides guidance on how to support each student's evolving executive function, and how to encourage those who are ready to develop self-advocacy and become more responsible for the development of his or her own executive function skills. The author advocates a student-centred approach in which educators first explore eight key "ingredients" with the student: relationships; strengths and weaknesses; self-advocacy and responsibility; review and preview; motivation and incentive; synthesis and analysis; rhythm and routine; and practice and repetition. She provides step-by-step explanations of how the educator and student can then explore and use these "ingredients" in different ways and in different combinations to successfully address particular areas of difficulty.

Cover of Dyslexia & Me
Jessica Kingslely Publishers

"Throughout my life I have been told directly and indirectly that dyslexia is found in particular people... [In fact] dyslexia can be found in someone like me. It isn't just 'okay' but something to be proud of. This book has been written because I want people to know that dyslexia can be found in people of every colour, creed, or circumstance." In this book, rising star entrepreneur Onyinye Udokporo shares her story of growing up dyslexic in a society where neurodivergence was always presented as a white male issue. Onyinye discusses her experience of being diagnosed at 11 years old, starting a business the following year, gaining a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school and going on to complete two degrees by the age of 22, while also being honest about the difficulties she faced throughout including with bullying and anxiety. She shares the tips she picked up over the years for thriving with dyslexia and the strategies she used to overcome her difficulties in reading and writing well, staying organised and speaking with confidence. Illuminating wider issues of systemic racism in the educational sector and providing a timely reminder that dyslexia can be found in any community and culture, this is an empowering story of surviving and thriving in the face of adversity.

Selected Resources About Dyslexia

Cover of Your Fantastic Elastic Bra
Deak, PhD
Sarah Ackerley
Little Pickle Press

Although not specific to dyslexia, this innovative and timely picture book teaches children that they have the ability to stretch and grow their own brains. It also delivers the crucial message that mistakes are an essential part of learning. The book introduces children to the anatomy and various functions of the brain in a fun and engaging way. And don't miss the new Good Night to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, all about the amazing work your brain does when the rest of you is asleep!

Cover of My Life with Dyslexia
Isabel Muñoz
Amicus Illustrated

Meet Scott! He likes coding and playing basketball. He also has dyslexia. Scott is real and so are his experiences. Learn about his life in this illustrated narrative nonfiction picture book for elementary students.

Cover of Journey Into Dyslexia (fil
Journey Into Dyslexia Movie Poster: an orange brain on a yellow human head that reads, "Great Minds Think Differently"
Video Verite

Academy Award winning filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond present profiles of dyslexic students and adults who share their experiences of struggling in school ... and succeeding in life.

Film cover art
RoCo Films Educational

Produced with the purpose of alleviating the stigma associated with dyslexia, The big picture features the testimony of individuals from various backgrounds diagnosed with dyslexia (including investment advisor Charles Schwab and billionaire Richard Branson) describing how they learned to live with and overcome their disability. Medical experts explain the neurological causes of the condition.

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity (website)

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity (YCDC) is the preeminent source of cutting-edge research, informed advocacy and trustworthy resources to help those with dyslexia reach their full potential. The Center’s tools and resources are used widely by parents, educators and those with dyslexia to advocate for greater recognition and support for dyslexic children and adults.


International Dyslexia Association (website)

The International Dyslexia Association, Inc. (IDA) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charity, organized and operated to provide advocacy, resources and services to teaching professionals, advocates and individuals and families impacted by dyslexia and other related learning differences.


Sold a Story (podcast)

Sold a Story is an independent investigative journalism project from American Public Media. This six-episode series explores the idea about how children learn to read that has held sway in many American schools for more than a generation. But if this same idea was also proven wrong by cognitive scientists decades ago, where does that leave today's aspiring readers?


Dyslexia Awareness (short video)

When local teen Libby Scanlon was looking for an issue she cared about for her Girl Scout Silver Award, dyslexia awareness was at the top of her list, and what better way to share her research and message than through her public library that encouraged awareness and inclusion! With a team of friends and family who lent their voices to the project, and support from her reading tutor, middle school case manager and tutors from the Children’s Dyslexia Center, Libby researched, wrote, and produced an informative video for others to learn about dyslexia.

“I really hope that my video informs people that kids who need extra help in the classroom aren’t weird - they are just trying to get the help they need to understand what the teacher is trying to say because they learn differently,” Libby told us. “I would have other kids ask me ‘why do you get pulled out of the class’ and I didn’t want to have to tell people that I have a learning disability. I didn’t always want to talk about it. I want there to be resources for people to understand dyslexia and other learning differences  on their own. I want our differences to be celebrated.” -Libby Scanlon

Selected Resources with Dyslexic Characters

Cover of Brilliant Bea
Shaina Rudolph
Mary Vukadinovich
Fiona Lee
Magination Press

With help from Ms. Bloom and some new friends, Beatrice discovers that learning differently is not something to be afraid of, and that dyslexia does not define who she is.

This title is also available in audio-enabled picturebook format.

Cover of Ben & Emma's Big Hit
Gavin Newsom
Ruby Shamir
Alexandra Thompson
Philomel Books

Ben, his friend Emma, and their teacher Ms. Kim all learn something new when they are brave and try (and fail, and try again) to work on skills they haven't yet mastered. Includes a personal note from the author about his experience with dyslexia.

Cover of Thank you, Mr. Falker
Patricia Polacco
G.P. Putnam's Sons

At first, Trisha loves school, but then she has difficulty learning to read. In the fifth grade, a new teacher helps her understand and overcome her problem. This title and The Art of Miss Chew are inspired by the author's own experiences.

Cover of Dr. Dyslexia Dude (volume
Shawn Anthony and Inshirah
Brandon Hadnot
Ripon Printers

This quick-reading graphic novel begins the compelling story of an African-American boy who is also a colorful superhero with dyslexia. Dr. Shawn Anthony Robinson and co-author Inshirah Robinson RN, are Wisconsin parents whose  goal is to empower students in Special Education to stay encouraged and know they too can achieve greatness! Volume 2, Doctor Dyslexia Dude and the Battle for Resilience was released in 2020.

Cover of The Wild Book
Harcourt Children's Books

This novel-in-verse is based on the author's grandmother's experiences growing up on a farm in Cuba with dyslexia. Commended by the Disability in Kidlit Honor Roll.

Cover of Fish in a Tree
Lynda Mullaly
Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group

A gifted artist, sixth grader Ally's greatest fear is that everyone will find out she still doesn't know how to read. Parents and educators would do well to read Nancy Keim Comley's nuanced review of this title on Disability in Kidlit.

This title is also available in audio CD, ebook and e-audiobook formats.

Cover of Two Minute Drill: a Comeba
Philomel Books

Brainy Scott, a great kicker who otherwise struggles with football, and star quarterback Chris, who has dyslexia, team up to help each other succeed in both football and school.

This title is also available in ebook format.

Cover of Close to Famous

Twelve-year-old Foster McFee and her mother escape from her mother's abusive boyfriend and end up in the small town of Culpepper, West Virginia, where they use their strengths and challenge themselves to build a new life, with the help of the friends they make there.

This title is also available in ebook format.

Cover of Eleven
Patricia Reilly
Wendy Lamb Books

When Sam, who can barely read, discovers an old newspaper clipping just before his eleventh birthday, it brings forth memories from his past, and, with the help of a new friend at school and the castle they are building for a school project, his questions are eventually answered.

This title is also available in audio CD, ebook, and e-audiobook formats.

Cover of That's Like Me! Stories ab
Star Bright Books

What do a trapeze artist, an Arctic explorer, and a soccer player have in common? Meet the fifteen kids and adults profiled in "That's Like Me!," a collection of first-person accounts of successful people who learn differently. Whether it was reading, math, writing, or speech problems, each person shares his or her inspiring story of facing the challenge of school, while pursuing important goals.

Cover of Like Stars on Earth / Taar
Walt Disney Studios

Eight-year-old Ishaan can't seem to get anything right in class and gets into more trouble than his parents can handle. They pack him off to boarding school to 'be disciplined, ' and his art teacher, Nikumbh, realizes that something is wrong and sets out to discover what it is. With time, patience, and care, Nikumbh helps Ishaan find himself.

Cover of The Lightning Thief
Hyperion Books for Children

About to be kicked out of boarding school once again, Percy is sent to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods, where he learns that his father is Poseidon, God of the Sea, and where he embarks upon a quest to reach the gates of the Underworld and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

This title is also available in large print, audio CD, Playaway, ebook, and e-audiobook formats.

There is an illustrated edition as well as graphic novel and film adaptations of this first story about Percy Jackson & the Olympians.