Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that presents in multiple ways: difficulty identifying speech sounds, decoding written words, a slower than average speed at processing written words, difficulty reading words aloud, and more. It’s one of the most common learning disabilities and affects millions of children, yet there are very few children’s books with dyslexic characters. These five picture books, all released within a year of one another, center dyslexic children. You can peek inside the pages of three of these children’s books with dyslexic characters on my Instagram post reviewing them.
Children’s Books With Dyslexic Characters
Jack Horner: Dinosaur Hunter by Sophia Gholz, Illustrated Dave Shephard
This picture book biography is about the man behind Grant from Jurassic Park. I am a huge Jurassic Park fan and I found this biography fascinating! Jack Horner always loved dinosaurs and fossils and wanted to be a paleontologist when he grew up, but he wasn’t very good at school. He had dyslexia and struggled with reading and completing his assignments. Even when he won a scholarship to a prestigious university for a science experiment, he found he struggled too much and couldn’t continue with his degree. But Jack was determined and did find a way to become a paleontologist, eventually discovering the first clutch of dinosaur eggs and making the evolutionary connection between dinosaurs and birds. Later, he became a consultant on Jurassic Park.
A Walk in the Words by Hudson Talbott
This gorgeously illustrated autobiography is about the child Hudson discovering it’s okay to read slowly. Hudson has always loved drawing and stories, but he struggles to read, and can’t read as fast as the other kids in school. This makes him feel lonely and frustrated. However, learning about other people who have had trouble reading like him helps him build confidence, and he gives himself permission to relish reading slowly, as is natural for him, and thus he’s able to continue on his journey of loving reading. The illustrations of Hudson walking through a forest of words are stunning and so evocative. This is such a beautiful book and story.
Aaron Slater, Illustrator (The Questioneers) by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts
This rhythmic continuation of the Questioneers series (Ada Twist, Scientist; Rosie Revere, Engineer; Sofia Valdez, Future Prez) features Aaron Slater, a boy who loves art and books but struggles with reading and writing. He loves stories and dreams of writing his own one day. The only trouble is Aaron has difficulty reading and writing. The letters just won’t hold still! When Ms. Greer assigns the class a story writing project, Aaron despairs. But when inspiration strikes, he finds his own unique way to tell a story. I love how supportive Ms. Greer and Aaron’s family are, and I especially love that this picture book is printed in a dyslexic-friendly font! My daughter and I adore this entire series, and I’m so glad to see them include disability representation in this latest addition to the series. See more inside pictures here!
Brilliant Bea by Shaina Rudolph, Mary Vukadinovich, & Fiona Lee
Bea loves telling stories. She always has a million ideas! But when it comes to reading out loud, she often has trouble and has to read slowly. This causes the other kids in the class to laugh at her sometimes. When her teacher gives Bea a tape recorder to record her stories, Bea pours her stories into the device. Another student overhears her and loves her stories. They become friends, and then other students pitch in and help Bea write and illustrate her story. I appreciate this book for quite a few reasons: it’s the only book I know of with a girl who’s dyslexic, there’s racial diversity, and I love the teacher taking an active part in the story to help Bea. However, I get a little tired of bullying stories, where the bullied child proves herself at the end and all the children love her now. That’s just not how things typically go. But that’s a minor part of the story, and I still feel comfortable recommending this one.
Abdul’s Story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow & Tiffany Rose
This picture book releases March 29th, and I’ve only read an excerpt. Abdul loves telling stories and always has a thousand wild ideas, but he struggles to write his stories down. The letters sometimes move around, and he often writes letters backward. When an author visits the class and tells a story of a young superhero who makes mistakes, Abdul feels empowered to write his stories, even if he makes mistakes along the way. I don’t think this one specifically mentions dyslexia, but a lot of dyslexic children will see themselves in this picture book.
I hope I’ll be able to add reviews to this list! If you know of other excellent children’s books with dyslexic characters, comment below and I’ll check them out!