We’ve previously discussed the importance of helping students with dyslexia find books that feature protagonists who face the same challenges as they do. It can be just as powerful for students to read books written by authors who have dyslexia. Below are a few of my favorites from Understood.org’s list of 11 Children’s Book Authors with Dyslexia.
This award-winning author of more than a dozen children’s books wasn’t always called Sally. She changed her name to Sally because her dyslexia made it hard for her to spell her name. Born Sarah, Gardner struggled with the “h” in her name. “My mother had a friend who was an actress called Sally who said, ‘Look, darling, the best thing to do is Sally because the s is like a snake, you have a little a and two long lines and a y to catch it all.’ And I thought, I can do that.”
Author of The Accidental Secret Agent
Tom McLaughlin recalls reading and writing being terribly difficult for him as a young student. “I was told I was lazy. I was tested for dyslexia, so the school knew about it, but didn’t do anything,” he says. “I think things are better nowadays.” Now the author of nine children’s books and counting, he encourages students to share their struggles with each other. “You should never be afraid to talk about being dyslexic,” McLaughlin says. “In fact, the more I talk about it, the more it feels like I’m getting to know myself a little bit more.”
Author of Junkyard Wonders
Patricia Polacco is perhaps best known for her best-selling autobiographical children’s book, Thank You, Mr. Falker. It tells the story of a student with dyslexia who’s touched by the kindness of a special teacher….Polacco encourages kids with dyslexia to have faith in themselves. “What I’m advising children to do is to realize that they are gifted, that every single kid is, but the human dilemma is we don’t open our gifts at the same time,” she says. “Some of us take much longer to open the gifts, but they’re there—and I promise them the gifts are there.”
Have you read any of these authors’ books (or others from the full list)? How do your students respond when they read books written by authors with dyslexia? Let us know in the comments!
- Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager