A few weeks ago I posted about some inspiring children’s book authors with dyslexia. I stated that there would be more to come. This blog post is one that focuses on more individuals who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, yet went on to author children’s books as adults. I write it in hopes that it may help to inspire youth who currently struggle with the reading process.
What is dyslexia? Oxford dictionary defines it as “A general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.” It is important to point this out because there seems to be a stigma around individuals that struggle with reading. Too many people believe it is due to a lack of intelligence. However, that is simply not true.
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The inspiring children’s book authors with dyslexia featured in this post are as follows:
Jerry Pinkney is the first African American to win a Caldecott Medal for Children’s Literature. He has illustrated more than 100 children’s books and, along with that, has authored many as well. Because the stories and lessons were a huge part of his own childhood, Pinkney has done his own rendition of many of Aesop’s Fables. As a result of his own dyslexia, he strives to create books that he could have enjoyed as a youngster.
In 2010, Pinkney was awarded the Caldecott Medal for The Lion & the Mouse. Other popular stories he has recreated as both the author and illustrator include Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
One of my favorite quotes from Pinkney’s website is the following: “For the young person who is struggling in school, never forget there are many different ways to learn. Be curious. Do not be afraid to try. Do not be disappointed when making mistakes. You will discover your own unique way of understanding the things being taught. Learn from mistakes. Everything that happens to you will frame who you are, and who you will become. Your path to success will follow.”
When describing his college days, Pinkney indicates,
“It took a large amount of energy to navigate each and every day, wondering when that time would come when I would be called upon to write a note or read out loud. Imagine having to constantly find new ways to slip out of those situations.”
Liz Pichon is the author / illustrator for the very funny and popular Tom Gates series. Along with her own dyslexia diagnosis, her son, Zack, has also been diagnosed. Therefore she considered the visual stories he enjoyed reading as a kid when creating her books and remembered what he was like as a child. “He had enthusiasm, he jumped from subject to subject and that’s what I based the character of Tom Gates on.”
In this Morning Story, Pichon states,
“Being dyslexic can really affect your confidence, and people with dyslexia often say that they’re made to feel stupid. There’s been plenty of times when that’s happened to me. So when I decided to have a go at writing my own stories about the character Tom Gates, I wanted to make them really visual, full of drawings and doodles, which is exactly the kind of book that I would have loved as a kid.”
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.
Goldberg has written books in various genres. Her children’s book series is The Sugar Plum Ballerinas, which are chapter books for young readers with some pictures. The books are great for helping young girls to overcome hardships.
Words jumbled on the page for Octavia Spencer, making reading very difficult to maintain interest in. One of her teachers introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, and that kept her engaged in reading.
Spencer’s love of mysteries and martial arts has combined together in the creation of her 2 Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective books for middle school readers. In talking about her dyslexia with WENN, she claims, “I was a dyslexic child and am a dyslexic adult; that doesn’t really mean that you’re not intelligent – it just means that your brain functions differently.”
Even though L.J. Kidd could type out letters in front of her quickly, she struggled to read the words formed by those same letters. She was frequently bullied and picked on in school. She claims that reading a menu in a restaurant is the most difficult for her.
Kidd writes and illustrates her books. Similarly to how she has overcome her own struggles, Kidd’s stories focus on animal characters overcoming challenges. Beemadoo Plays his Dream was created to “encourage everyone to reach… for your dreams.” Another of Kidd’s books, Tales of Snails was written after she was out walking her dogs and almost stepped on a snail.
Difficulty with Reading
Please share these inspiring children’s book authors with dyslexia with anyone you know who has a loved one in their lives struggling with reading. It’s certainly 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 Reading Transformed. It is important to ensure that reading becomes comfortable and something that is done with confidence.
I would love to know your thoughts on these authors with dyslexia and about your own experiences with reading. Please share in the comments below.