Summer Reading: Tried and True Books for Dyslexic Readers
Summer is here! Let's get ready to party! Let's go swimming, eat watermelon until we pop, sleep in late, go on vacations, and read until the sun comes up! A ton of parents have asked me for my book recommendations, so here I am writing a blog. Through out all the years I have been working with dyslexic students, I have developed a list of books that are highly engaging and fun to read. These books are tried and true to get hesitant dyslexic readers to READ!
If your kiddo isn't at the eye-reading level of the book they want to read, don't deny them the pleasure of being completely engulfed in the joy of reading. Just get the book on audio so they can EAR-READ. Check out LearningAlly.org, BookShare.org, Audible.com, Audiobooks.com, and iTunes for ear-reading books.
Ok, are you ready for the list... Here you go!
1. Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
There is a reason there is a cult like following for Harry Potter. JK Rowling is a literary genius. When I was in high school, the Harry Potter series is what got me hooked on reading. I read a chapter out loud to my younger sister while she was sick in bed (a huge fear of mine as a dyslexic student reading to her quite gifted and academically superior younger sister), and I was instantly hooked. I binged read the first 3 books. When the 4th book came out, I read it in a straight 24 hours. I didn't even sleep. Same with the 5th and 6th books. I was obsessed. When I got older and had reluctant readers I was teaching, I would take a few minutes and read to them from the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I am telling you, in all the years I have been working with dyslexic kids and after all the times I have read just the first chapter of HP and the SS, I have only had ONE student who didn't get instantly hooked and start reading the HP series like it was their one and only job. The magic of Harry Potter is real and I know your kiddo would love being transported into the Wizarding World that is Harry Potter! All of the Harry Potter books are available on audiobook from Audible.com, Audiobooks.com, iTunes, LearningAlly.org, and Bookshare.org so your kiddo can ear-read if they want.
2. Cryptid Hunters Series by Roland Smith
A 4th grade student of mine handed me a book with a dinosaur on it and said that I HAD to read this book. I told her, "No, I am afraid of dinosaurs. You know this." She promptly told me to suck it up and to read the book. Trying to set a good example for my student, I decided to give it a try. I took the book home, read the first page, and then continued to read vigorously until the very last page! This book, Cryptid Hunters, got me from the first page. Nay! The first paragraph! It was gripping, exciting and also highly educational. I learned about cryptids (animals that are presumed to not exist or be extinct). Seriously, what kid wouldn't love to learn about creatures that no one thinks exist but would be so cool to find in real life! The followup book, Tentacles, was just as good but a bit more intense, so I would advise this for about 10 year-olds and up. Mutation has recently been released and I just placed my order on Amazon so I can get my read on this summer as well! I am so pumped to read the latest book in this series. Thanks to my student, Lexi, for introducing me to this super awesome series.
3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
I love this book series for so many reasons. First, it is highly engaging. Like the previous series I have mentioned in this post, PJ got me hooked from the first page. But, as the book progresses, we learn that Percy Jackson is Dyslexic and AD/HD. WOW! For our dyslexic kids who get beaten down all the time by failures in school and life, Percy is seriously cool! He goes on adventures, saves the world, meets crazy people, is a total hero, and is dyslexic and AD/HD! Rick Riodan put such a positive spin on what is often look at very negatively. While Dyslexia doesn't mean our brains were wired to read ancient Greek instead of English, it's still cool to read about a dyslexic person doing amazing, fun, and exciting things. Rick Riodan was so successful in writing the Percy Jackson series that he has several more series surrounding Greek and Roman mythology that also have a strong following. All books are available on audio from the normal places. Start with the PJ series and then move on to the rest of Rick's books. They are all captivating and exciting. P.S. Do NOT judge the books based on the movies. They are very very different and the books are 90000% better.
4. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
It's an oldie but a goodie for sure. Wilbur seems so pathetic and the beginning of the book, but we learn what the true meaning of friendship is and just how powerful friendship can be for a person. It is a great book to read out loud as a family or curled up with a blanket on the couch. This book is one that I love to use to help improve comprehension skills for my students. We talk about the vocabulary used, we make predictions, and we try to really understand the meaning and motivation behind each character's personalities. Charlotte's Web is certainly a book that every child would enjoy reading. If you have a particularly empathetic child, this book is an absolute must.
5. How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell
Have you seen the movies?! Well, if you have then you might as well READ the books as well. The movies and the books are NOTHING alike. The only similarities are names and the titles. The great thing about the lack of continuity between the books and the movies is that both the books and the movies are really good! Double the laughs, the joy, and the fun. This is also a great opportunities to work on compare and contrast skill with your kiddos because your kiddos are sure to be highly engaged in both the reading and viewing process. I'd recommend discussing the differences in plot, character personalities, and climax of the movies verses the books. Maybe even put in a deep higher level thinking questions like, "Why do you think the movie people decided to make the movie so different than the book?" I'd love to hear what answers your kids came up with!
6. Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary
Do any of you have a little sister, or are you the little sister? Either way, these books are so relatable for children that have siblings and they are also truly funny and entertaining. The things Ramona does are simply outrageous. Her imagination is through the roof! I remember having these books read to me when I was little. I loved listening to what mischief Ramona would get up to next. To this day, I read these books out loud to my students and then they pick them up at home. The weird thing for me was realizing how much I really didn't like Beezus (the older sister) but in real life I was an older sister! Isn't it ironic!
7. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
This entire book makes you question social issues like racism, class, divorce, academics, and death. Maniac Magee is a boy who has been through it and he copes, quite joyously, through running. This is a great book to help teach your kids about these social issues that are often too prevalent today. Jerry Spinelli captivates you through the character of Maniac Magee. When Maniac is happy, the reader is happy. When Maniac is lonely, the reader feels that loneliness. The empathy Jerry puts into his books is quite apparent. I really recommend reading this book with your child and discussing the topics that come up and how Maniac views them. Engaging, heart wrenching at times, and completely brilliant, Maniac Magee is one of my all time favorite books.
8. Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli
Staying along the Jerry Spinelli line, please let me introduce you to Star Girl. The is a powerful book, especially for adolescent girls coming into their own. 8, 9, 10 and above for girls can be a hard age. I know it was for me. Star Girl exudes confidence, does what is right even if it isn't popular, and goes for what she wants with full force. Star Girl is a great character that I know your child will fall in love with every time they pick up the book. She is quirky and doesn't fit in to normal educational settings, but she makes the best of it and presses forward with her pet rat.
The sequel, Love by Star Girl, starts out really annoying as Star Girl is pining over her lost love (teenage stuff). However as the book progresses, you read how she gets over the boy who broke her teenage heart, uses service to help people in need, and enjoys the people in her life that truly love and care about her.
9. FableHaven series by Brandon Mull
Have you ever wanted to live on a animal sanctuary? Well in FableHaven, the animals are fairies and magical creatures that can only be seen by drinking the milk from a special cow. Sounds weird? Sounds exciting? It is! A brother and sister pair go on adventures to save the magical world from evil powers. They discover that consequences are real and quite dangerous when bad and wrong decisions are made. Many of my students have loved this series and have gone on to read the other Brandon Mull books as well. Like other good series books, FableHaven builds book by book and leaves you wanting to grab the next book right away. It is a great book series for summer!
10. Holes by Louis Sachar
Most of us have seen the movie and loved it, but now is the time to read the book! This is another great book to talk about compare and contrast between the book and the movie. What was the same? What was different? How do you picture the characters in the books, and how did that change once you saw the movie? Holes is captivating and a great summer starter book for boys and girls. Sometimes our readers can be reluctant to start the book, but read them the first couple pages and I would bet you money they will want to continue reading on their own (eye or ear-reading). What might even be good with this book is to make a real life summer adventure based on the book. Go burry some treasure in the back yard! Just kidding! Maybe send your kids on a scavenger hunt instead so your backyard isn't filled with holes.
I have a ton of other books I can share with you, and I'll do so in other posts, but these books are definitely my top of the top favorites. Do you have any books that are tried and true for dyslexic students? Please tell me so I can try them out as well!
Thanks for reading! Here's to summer reading!