Dyslexia Does Not Define Success (Part 3)

My blog posts from last week and the week before were the first two of a 3 part series discussing incredibly inspirational individuals who have had huge struggles with reading in their younger years. Some of them still do.

This week, I am bringing attention to a few more of these inspiring individuals who are tremendously successful in life despite having had struggles with reading in their younger years.  I hope you find each of them as inspiring as I do! 

Patricia Polacco:

boy excited about book

Patricia Polacco is a children’s book author who didn’t learn to read until she was 14 years old. If you would like to know what this was like for her, please check out this video where she explains it to a group of students. I love how she pairs how difficult this was for her with the importance of being kind to others. She also is so inspirational when she explains to these students that a 78 year study was just completed on young people in special classes, “You know what they found out? If you’re in any of those rooms, you’re not there because you’re dumb! You’re on the other end of the scale… so drop dead brilliant, they have no idea how to access most of what you know. And you KNOW things! So if you’re there, stick out your chest. You’re in very good company.”

Patricia Polacco has written numerous children’s books, one in which recognizes a special teacher in her life who recognized her dyslexia and struggles with reading. That book is Thank You, Mr. Falker. The hardcover edition here also comes with a special note from Patricia Polacco herself. 🙂 A few of the other children’s books she has written include Thunder Cake, Chicken Sunday and Junkyard Wonders. Junkyard Wonders also touches on Polacco’s own life as a child in school.

Whoopi Goldberg:

Goldberg starred in movies such as Ghost

Whoopi Goldberg talks about how she felt about first being diagnosed with dyslexia on this Friends of Quinn interview. Back as a student in school, her teachers believed she was just “lazy.” However, this was not the case. She simply learned differently.

Whoopi Goldberg is an actress, writer and producer. She is also currently one of the talk show hosts on The View. Goldberg has won numerous awards.  She is on the small list of people who have won at least one Emmy, Oscar, Grammy, and Tony award. This is an amazing accomplishment for anyone, let alone someone who has had struggles with reading! 🙂 

Whoopi Goldberg has written a few books. Some of them are targeted for an adult audience, such as If Someone Says You Complete Me, RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships. Other books she has written are for younger audiences, such as the Sugar Plum Ballerinas series.

A few of my favorite movies Whoopi Goldberg has starred in are Ghost, Sister Act, and Corrina, Corrina.

Stephen J. Cannell:

Stephen J. Cannell wrote mystery novels

The late Stephen J. Cannell was a TV producer, writer and detective and mystery novelist who openly discussed his dyslexia and struggles with reading. He also advocated for others with dyslexia. In this video, he highlighted how people with dyslexia have offered so many gifts to the world. He claimed that football saved him, but acknowledged that many can come to struggle with their self-image. He also stated that, “You have to make sure that children understand that not getting good grades is not necessarily the end-all in life… Lots of times, the people who were the valedictorians in my high school classes, don’t have careers anywhere near as exciting or interesting as mine.”

In this video, he talked about how his own dyslexia affected him personally and what it looked like for him. For example, he always struggled with knowing his right from his left. He concludes the video by saying, “The thing we need to remember is that this has nothing to do with intelligence. This has nothing to do with IQ. Very often dyslexics, because they speak well and form their thoughts well and make a lot of sense, will hear that they’re not applying themselves when they’re not getting good grades in school. I got that all the time. Stephen, if you would just apply yourself, you would do so much better. Well, that wasn’t the problem.”

Some novels written by Stephen J. Cannell include The Tin Collectors, King Con, and Hollywood Tough. He also wrote movie and television scripts. For example, he wrote many of the scripts for The Rockford Files.

Stephen J. Cannell also discussed his experiences with dyslexia in Dislecksia: The Movie, a documentary about dyslexic superstars.

Dav Pilkey:

Dav Pilkey, author of Captain Underpants

Dav Pilkey is both the author and illustrator of the Captain Underpants graphic novels. In this brief interview, he notes how graphic novels have been a great way for him to take in a story with the type of dyslexia that he has. Captain Underpants was also made into a movie in 2017, called Captain Underpants, the First Epic Movie.

More recent graphic novels Dav Pilkey has created are his Dog Man graphic novels. The main character is a crime fighter who is part dog and part man.

Dyslexia Does Not Define Success (Part 3)

I hope you find these individuals as inspiring as I do in their overcoming and achievements in life despite difficulties with reading!

Has dyslexia impacted your life in any way? Please share by commenting below or email me at contact@sherrymlee.com.

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  1. It is always nice to see that even when you have struggles, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to! Great post Sherry 🙂

  2. I like that you wrote about this. While we’ve known about this for a long time, it seems like teachers are quick to point to behavioral problems, defiance, and other things but maybe don’t even know how to investigate dyslexia as a possibility.

    1. I agree! I think it is so often overlooked or that these individuals get labeled as being something that they aren’t. Thank you for reading! 🙂

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