Books That Feature Characters With Learning Disabilities

First, if you’re looking for a website devoted to offering in-depth reviews and recommendations on books that feature characters with dyslexia, ADHD, and many other types of challenges or disabilities, start with these three; Disability in Kidlit, Common Sense Media, and Understood.

Disability in Kidlit is dedicated to discussing the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature. They publish articles, reviews, interviews, and discussions examining this topic from various angles—and always from the disabled perspective.

Common Sense Media rates movies, TV shows, books, and more so parents can feel good about the entertainment choices they make for their kids. They offer the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based ratings and reviews. 

Understood seeks to help the millions of parents whose children, ages 3–20, are struggling with learning and attention issues.

We want to empower them to understand their children’s issues and relate to their experiences. With this knowledge, parents can make effective choices that propel their children from simply coping to truly thriving,” – Understood.

Without further ado, below are 7 books that feature characters with learning disabilities. Feel free to suggest a title or two in the comment below.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea.

Buy the book HERE

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of.

Buy the book HERE

My Name Is Brain Brian by Jeanne Betancourt

Brian thinks he’s dumb. It doesn’t help that kids laugh when he reads aloud and writes on the board at school. But Brian’s sixth-grade teacher notices him reversing the letters of his name. That makes her suspect he has dyslexia—and she’s right. With more help from his school, Brian finally comes to realize that he’s a smart kid who learns differently. My Name Is Brain Brian reinforces the idea that kids can learn to work around their issues and achieve their goals.

Buy the book HERE

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

Life can be tricky for 8-year-olds. Just ask Clementine, who has a really bad week in this first book in the series named after her. On Monday, she gets in trouble for cutting her friend Margaret’s hair off. (Margaret got glue in it, and Clementine was just trying to help!) Every day after that gets worse, and Clementine starts to worry that her parents are going to label her “the hard one.” (Her brother would be “the easy one.”) This book never uses the term ADHD, but Clementine has many characteristics of kids with attention issues. So they are likely to relate to her challenges and creative, comic solutions.

Buy the book HERE

Playing Tyler by T.L. Costa

Tyler MacCandless can’t focus, even when he takes his medication. He can’t focus on school, on his future, on a book, on much of anything other than taking care of his older brother, Brandon, who’s in rehab for heroin abuse… again. Tyler’s dad is dead and his mom has mentally checked out. The only person he can really count on is his Civilian Air Patrol Mentor, Rick. The one thing in life it seems he doesn’t suck at is playing video games and, well, thats probably not going to get him into college.

Buy the book HERE

The Alphabet War: A Story about Dyslexia by Diane Burton Robb

When Adam started kindergarten, the teacher wanted him to learn about letters. But “p” looked like “q,” and “b” looked like “d.” Adam would rather color or mold clay. In first grade, his teacher wanted him to put the letters into words so he could read. That was the beginning of the Alphabet War. “Was” looked like “saw,” and “there” looked like “then.” Almost everyone else in his class was learning to read, but Adam was fighting a war against letters.

Buy the book HERE

Thank You, Mr. Falker

The real-life, classic story of a dyslexic girl and the teacher who would not let her fail. A perfect gift for teachers and for reading students of any age. Trisha could paint and draw beautifully, but when she looked at words on a page, all she could see was jumble. It took a very special teacher to recognise little Trisha’s dyslexia: Mr. Falker, who encouraged her to overcome her reading disability. Patricia Polacco will never forget him, and neither will we.This inspiring story is available in a deluxe slipcased edition, complete with a personal letter to readers from Patricia Polacco herself.

Buy the book HERE

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