It’s not often assumed that a youth who has difficulty reading would become an author as an adult. After all, rarely are the words authors and dyslexia put together let alone authors with dyslexia. However, thankfully, many adults are incorrect when predicting the future of youth who have difficulty with reading. Unfortunately, too often, it‘s assumed that these youth won’t have much of a future at all. This is why I wanted to feature authors that defy stereotypes. I hope you enjoy reading about these incredibly inspiring children’s book authors with dyslexia!
This blog post is one that focuses on individuals who had difficulty with reading as a youth, yet went on to become authors of children’s books as an adult. I write it in hopes that it may help to inspire youth who currently struggle with the reading process.
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Jeanne Betancourt has written more than 70 children’s books, including the Pony Pals series in which the character Anna has dyslexia. Anna’s dyslexia is an especially big part of Betancourt’s Pony Pals books #2 A Pony for Keeps and #38 Ponies on Parade. Betancourt has also written My Name is Brain Brian, a book in which the main character, Brian, learns he has dyslexia in the 6th grade and shows how he comes to appreciate the gifts he has.
Jeanne Betancourt indicates,
“Understanding how other people feel is a key to being a good writer. I also have strong visual memories and can easily imagine the places I’ve been as I describe them for the reader. These skills are more important for me as a storyteller than the skills I don’t have because I am dyslexic – like being a good speller and a speedy reader.”
Patricia Polacco is a children’s book author who didn’t learn to read until she was 14 years old. She definitely fits well as one of the incredibly inspiring authors with dyslexia. 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.
Patricia Polacco has written numerous children’s books, one in which recognizes a special teacher in her life who recognized her dyslexia and difficulty with reading. That book is Thank You, Mr. Falker. Polacco’s book Junkyard Wonders also touches on her own life as a child in school and is an inspiring read for anyone who would benefit from finding their own inner genius.
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.
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.
One of my favorite stories about Dav Pilkey that I love sharing with students is found on the author page of his website. It reads as follows:
“As a child, Dav Pilkey was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. Dav was so disruptive in class that his teachers made him sit out in the hall every day. Luckily, Dav loved to draw and make up stories, so he spent his time in the hallway creating his own original comic books.
In the second grade, Dav Pilkey created a comic book about a superhero named Captain Underpants. His teacher ripped it up and told him he couldn’t spend the rest of his life making silly books. Fortunately, Dav was not a very good listener.”
Henry Winkler has been very open about his dyslexia over the past 15 years or so. The famous actor has partnered up with Lin Oliver to create a series of books featuring Hank, the main character who has dyslexia. Most of his books use Dyslexie font, a font that was created specifically for readers with dyslexia to make the books easier to read.
Henry’s Winkler’s Hank Zipzer series features Hank mostly as a fourth grader. Winkler also has a number of Here’s Hank books in which Hank is in the second grade. Among these are Bookmarks are People Too and A Short Tale About a Long Dog.
Any individual who has difficulty with reading is certain to relate to Hank. The Hank Zipzer books are comical and definitely shed light on what it is like to be a student with dyslexia in school.
Author/illustrator Tom McLaughlin discovered he has dyslexia at the age of 12. He indicates,
“I felt daunted by the whole thing, I felt different and a little embarrassed. That’s how I felt for years afterwards too; I got called lazy and stupid, so I stayed away from words, they were no friends of mine. But then something changed. I finally figured out that being able to spell correctly has nothing to do with being a good writer, it’s about having something to say.”
“Writing is about you, they are your thoughts, the things you have to say, and those can never be wrong. Being dyslexic is who you are and who you are is brilliant.”
Difficulty with Reading
Please share these authors with anyone you know who has a loved one in their lives who has difficulty with reading. Another about more inspiring authors with dyslexia can be found here. It’s time to focus on what individuals can do and to celebrate strengths.
If you would like to learn more about how to overcome the barriers that can play a role into why your child may have difficulty with reading, I invite you to check out my eBook Reading Made Easy. It’s important to ensure that reading becomes comfortable and something that is done with confidence. Reading Made Easy is a must-have guide for every parent helping their reluctant reader with reading!
I would love to know your experiences with reading. Please share in the comments below.