As a student with dyslexia, there was nothing more frustrating to me than having to read “baby books” in school for outside reading. Because my reading level was low, I was often forced to read books that were below my comprehension and maturity level. Reading was already difficult, but the fact that I wasn’t interested in my assigned reading made me an even more reluctant reader.
This is the type of situation we want to avoid as educators. We must make reading more enjoyable for struggling students because they will increase their proficiency only by reading more. As Lori Rog and Paul Kropp put it in their article, Hooking Struggling Readers: Using Books They Can and Want to Read:
There is extensive research to support the premise that the best way to become a better reader is to read more. (Allington, 2001). Unfortunately, often the instructional solution for readers…is to focus on “skills instruction” rather than connected reading. As a result, [the struggling student] usually ends up reading less than his classmates, thereby having fewer opportunities to build competence…
To help students become better readers, we have to improve their reading skills and their attitude towards reading. Dyslexia Action has some terrific tips for choosing books that dyslexic students will enjoy:
Choose books carefully. You might think about:
• Areas of interest – Children will persist much more if the subject of the book is one that appeals to them
• Level of interest – Be careful not to use ‘babyish’ books with older struggling readers – they need to have their imagination engaged, and their efforts rewarded
• Try to find books with vocabulary familiar to the reader, and if there are new words, try to talk about these beforehand
• Books with the text broken up into short sentences and paragraphs are good as they help to keep pace, maintain interest and give a feeling of progress
• It is good to find pictures with captions, call-outs and boxed-text to break up the main text into manageable chunks.
With these guidelines in mind, here is a list of book suggestions from Dyslexia Action specifically recommended for dyslexic students in upper elementary and middle school grades.
- Ruby the Red Fairy by Daisy Meadows
2. Horrid Henry Robs the Bank by Francesca Simon
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
4. Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell
5. Goth Girl by Chris Riddell
6. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
7. Brock by Anthony McGowan
8. Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
9. The Recruit by Robert Muchamore
10. The Enemy by Charlie Higson
Share in the comments other books that you recommend for dyslexic students!
- Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager