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Children's Book Authors and Illustrators: Talking About Learning and Attention Issues

In these video interviews, children's authors and illustrators who have learning and attention issues share their personal stories. You'll also hear from many popular children's authors who talk about books that can be engaging for kids who struggle with reading. Get tips on where to find great children's books, including graphic novels, book series, audio books, and more.

Sharing their stories

Hear first-hand what it was like to struggle with reading from Dav Pilkey, Carmen Agra Deedy, Patricia Polacco, Avi, Jerry Pinkney, and E.B. Lewis. Learn how these talented writers and illustrators discovered their strengths and gifts. Gene Yang and Jack Gantos talk about the challenges and joys of being "slow" reader.

Books for kids who struggle with reading

Listen in to popular children's authors as they talk about books that can connect with kids who struggle to read. Here are some highlights:

  • Katherine Applegate (The One and Only Ivan): Katherine's daughter has dyslexia, and the key for her has been graphic novels.
  • Jewell Parker Rhodes (Ninth Ward): Jewell writes in an accessible conversational style, where the words may be easy to read but the stories and characters are sophisticated. She says that many parents have told her that her books have been the first their kids ever finished.
  • Leigh Bardugo (Grisha series): Leigh includes characters with all kinds of abilities — including ADHD and dyslexia — in her popular Grishaverse novels. She wants to highlight the power and strengths that all kids have. Her Six of Crows character, Wylan (who has dyslexia), was inspired by a friend from college.
  • Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson series): Rick talks about the origins of his very popular Percy Jackson series. Percy, along with other demigods in the books, is dyslexic — inspired by Riordan's own son who has dyslexia and ADHD.
  • Jack Gantos (Joey Pigza series): The irrepressible Joey Pigza, a kid with ADHD, sprang into Jack's imagination after a memorable school visit. Jack wanted to capture the personality of this gradeschooler he had just met — a kid with lots of creativity and "smarts" who just needs a little guidance from friends and family.
  • Jeff Kinney (Wimpy Kid series), Jarrett Krosoczka (Lunch Lady series), Cece Bell (El Deafo), Matt Holm (Babymouse and Squish series), and Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret): These authors talk about how the graphic novel and "hybrid" novel format have a unique way of pulling readers into a story — and they're especially engaging to kids who struggle with reading.
  • Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man), Kelly Entrada Kelly (Hello, Universe), and Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda series): These authors challenge us to let kids choose the books they want to read — sometimes that's funny books, comic books, or nonfiction. When children follow their interests, motivation to read will grow.
  • Megan McDonald (Judy Moody series) and Lin Oliver (Here's Hank series): Megan and Lin talk about some key elements that can help turn reluctant readers into enthusiastic ones — a story packed with humor, familiar and relatable characters in series books, and an "open" page design with clear fonts and lots of white space.

Meet Lin Oliver, co-author of the Hank Zipzer series

Meet Lin Oliver, co-author (with Henry Winkler) of the popular Hank Zipzer and Here's Hank series about a young boy with learning differences who is funny, resourceful, and smart. Find out why kids (and their parents) love Hank and learn more about the readable "dyslexie" font and page design in the Here's Hank series.

Oliver also talks about the importance of celebrating differences and supporting the unique strengths in each child, as well as her own experiences parenting a child with attention issues.

Finding great children's books

Children with reading disabilities often avoid reading because it is so difficult for them. There are a number of ways to encourage a struggling reader. Sometimes it helps to read about characters who have some of the same challenges that you do. Graphic novels can be especially appealing to readers who are reluctant to pick up a more traditional book. Audio books and e-books are other excellent options for struggling readers.

Discover what kinds of books are especially popular with children who struggle with reading. The recommended books are based on a Reading Rockets survey of parents and educators of children with learning and attention issues, including dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder. See the article, Favorite Books for Kids with Learning and Attention Issues.

Browse our booklists below, or search for more titles by format (graphic novel, audio book) or topic (learning and attention issues) on Book Finder.

Reading Rockets (2018)

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You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact [email protected]

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