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Books About Kids Who Find Reading Hard

For some kids, reading isn't easy. They might have dyslexia, a learning disability, or just learn differently. Because it helps to know you're not alone, we've gathered together a list of recommended children's books for kids ages 0-9 that feature characters of different strengths and abilities who've found they don't read like everyone else.

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

Egg-Drop Blues

By: Jacqueline Banks
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Judge is desperate. His mother has threatened to send him to a different school next year. To prove he can succeed at his current school, Judge needs to bring up his grades. After weeks of hard work — all while dealing with his sometimes difficult brother and his dyslexia — Judge's hopes depend on winning a science competition. Soon it all comes down to the egg drop.

He's My Brother

By: Joe Lasker
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Jamie’s brother narrates this touching look at a learning disability and how it affects not only Jamie but also his family. Jamie doesn’t do well in school and is much more content at home. Though it remains unspecified, the portrayal of Jamie’s learning disability will resonate with those who have struggled or seen someone else toil.

I Wish I Could Fly Like a Bird!

By: Katherine Denison
Illustrated by: Katherine Denison
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

This is the story of Chic L. Dee, a bird with learning disabilities who flip-flops when he tries to fly. While he struggles to accept his limitations, he begins to discover his talents, trust his intuition, and find his own way. Perhaps most importantly, he learns about making room for differences.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

By: Jack Gantos
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Joey is out of control. He knows it, his mom knows it, and the school knows it. Nothing seems to remedy his behavior until Joey runs away from a class field trip, hurts a classmate, and is sent to a special education program. There, his medications are regulated and Joey achieves a level of control.

Just Juice

By: Karen Hesse
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this book by Newbery Medal-winning author Karen Hesse, the highly skilled Juice, who can handle everything from power tools to her Pa's depression, is plagued by an inability to understand letters and reading.

Leo the Late Bloomer

By: Robert Kraus
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Leo isn't reading, or writing, or drawing, or even speaking, and his father is concerned. But Leo's mother isn't. She knows her son will do all those things, and more, when he's ready.

My Name is Brain Brian

By: Jeanne Betancourt
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Brian was not excited to enter sixth-grade. He knew that it would be just as frustrating as every other school year. People tease him when he reads aloud in class or writes on the blackboard. But Brian soon learns that this year will be different! This year his teacher notices that Brian is dyslexic. He isn't stupid or lazy; he just needs to learn a little differently.

My Year With Harry Potter: How I Discovered My Own Magical World

By: Ben Buchanan
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

I'm normal because I am a normal kid — going to school, being happy, getting homework, having a family. I'm not normal because I'm dyslexic... Thus begins the autobiography of an eleven-year-old boy who describes how he created a board game based on the popular Harry Potter series and entered it into his school's yearly Invention Convention, where it became an instant hit.

Niagara Falls or Does It? (Hank Zipzer)

By: Henry Winkler, Lin Oliver
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

On the first day of fourth grade, Hank's teacher assigns a five-paragraph essay, "What I did on my summer vacation," and he knows he's in trouble. It has always been difficult for him to read, write, and spell so he decides to "build" his assignment instead — to "bring Niagara Falls into the classroom, water and all." This is the first book in the Hank Zipzer series.

Thank You, Mr. Falker

By: Patricia Polacco
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Learning how to read isn't easy for Trisha. But with the help and support of a wise new teacher, she begins to blossom. Told with warmth and sensitivity, and illustrated in Polacco's signature style, the story of a girl overcoming dyslexia is based on the author's own experience.

Whispers in the Graveyard

By: Theresa Breslin
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Solomon has never had an easy time in school because of his dyslexia. But then, in a desolate part of an old graveyard, he finds himself battling the effects of an ancient curse put on the land by a witch many years before. With the help of a professor, his teacher, and a young girl, they unravel the mystery and break the curse forever.

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"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald