Teachers everywhere understand the importance of finding the right books for empowering readers, especially when those would-be readers have dyslexia. Luckily, a treasure trove of good reader books awaits!
Teachers must find books tailored to the specific needs of students. This is especially true when working with children diagnosed with dyslexia.
Graphic novels and illustrated stories with dynamic layouts are less intimidating than big blocks of text. This makes both solid picks for dyslexic students.
Smart teachers involve students in the book selection process. This allows kids to feel they have control over their own reading journey.
It's easier to match students with appropriate material when you know their reading level.
- Find multi-sensory reading experience to help students build more context with the stories they're reading.
The Importance of Finding Books to Fit a Dyslexic Child's Needs
Dyslexia makes reading a challenge for many children. While they're often in danger of falling behind, finding titles that cater to their needs can be a game-changer. Good reader books can help these students overcome reading challenges, boost their confidence, and improve their reading skills.
What are the characteristics of a good book for a dyslexic reader?
Books for a dyslexic readers make text on the page less intimidating and easy on the eye. This means they often have lots of white on the page. This happens when publishers bigger line spacing and wider margins. Additionally, it also helps when a book is printed with a bigger font so the words are easier to read. Even if teachers ignore everything else, offering books designed to look like easy reads will drop the guard of some students.
Of course, we must allow students to play a role in choosing the books they read. Giving kids ownership over the book selection process encourages them to practice reading and makes it more likely they will engage with the material.
Graphic Novels for Struggling and Reluctant Readers
Graphic novels are an excellent choice for children with dyslexia. Their lively storylines, action-packed plots, accessible text, and dynamic illustrations make them an excellent option for anyone searching for good reader books...
Babymouse by Jennifer and Mathew Holm
Set in an engaging black, white, and pink universe, this series follows the exciting adventures of a spunky school-age mouse. Each book is a contained story that presents a quirky combination of relatable scenarios and fantasy sequences.
Bone by Jeff Smith
This epic fantasy series takes readers on an adventure into a vast desert filled with mysterious creatures. It's a story of courage, friendship, and the struggle between good and evil. Beautifully illustrated, these books feature richly imagined and vibrant characters that will keep kids coming back for more.
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
A collection of graphic novels that follow the adventures of tween boys George and Harold. Using a magic ring, they transform their mean principal into the hilariously inept superhero, Captain Underpants. Each book features slapstick comedy and playful illustrations that keep struggling readers engaged. Also of note, this series will be of particular interest to some children as the author is dyslexic himself.
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
This series centers on Tom Gates, a boy with a love for doodling and a knack for finding trouble. The books are filled with his doodles, cartoons, and notes, creating a visually engaging reading experience. The format is a particular favorite for kids who act like they're allergic to the written word.
The Bad Guys series by Aaron Blabey
A favorite of tween boys, this collection action-packed picture books tells the story of a group of bad guys desperate to change their reputation. Each volume chronicles their ridiculous attempts to become heroes against all odds. Blabey's fun illustrations, combined with easy-to-read text, make these good reader books a great pick for kids with dyslexia.
Chapter Book Choices Kids Love
Chapter books are also a fantastic option for struggling students. Truthfully, most kids are likely to light up when they see new chapter books added to the classroom reading nook. From exciting adventure stories to historical fiction and scary series, there's something for every reader on the list below...
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School,
and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
A funny collection of children's books about second-grader Alvin Ho. Alvin has a peculiar fear of school that renders him mute at school. Despite his silence during school days, however, he's boisterous at home, showing two contrasting sides of his personality. The Alvin Ho series combines humor, heart, and a relatable protagonist to offer an engaging reading experience. The books are enriched by illustrations that breathe life into Alvin's escapades. The artwork in these books have made them some of the favorite books on shelves amongst struggling readers with dyslexia.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
A dynamic, basketball-themed novel written in verse by Kwame Alexander. It follows the life of 12-year-old Josh Bell, also known as Filthy McNasty, an exceptional basketball player who shares his passion for the game with his twin brother, Jordan. The book is a rhythmic journey through Josh's experiences on and off the court. It tackles themes of family, sibling rivalry, first love, and coming-of-age while expertly blending sports and poetry. Alexander uses a vibrant mix of free verse, hip-hop, jazz, and blues to tell this story. For kids who love sports, it's among their favorite books of all time. It's also a perfect pick for students who are intimidated by lots of words on the page.
Flora & Ulysses:
The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo
A charming novel with comic-style illustrations. The story follows Flora, a self-proclaimed cynic and comic book fan, who befriends Ulysses, a squirrel with superpowers after a peculiar accident involving a vacuum cleaner. Their extraordinary journey is filled with humor, adventures, and unexpected friendships. The blend of conventional text with visual elements creates an engaging and accessible reading experience. This makes it an appealing choice for teachers working to help a struggling reader improve their reading skills.
Black Lagoon Adventures series by Mike Thaler
This chapter book series follows Hubie as he navigates the challenges of school -- which he imagines as a Black Lagoon. Each book presents Hubie's imaginative perspective on everyday school events. This transforms something a mundane as a field trip into a fun adventure. The books are packed with engaging illustrations. Even better, the stories are told with clever rhymes and wordplays, which add to the books' charm.
The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle
This is the story of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, dyslexic girl in nineteenth-century Cuba who becomes a writer and abolitionist. Perfect for kids who might be inspired by a true story of someone like them overcoming the odds.
The Library of Doom series by Michael Dahl
An enthralling collection of books designed for young readers that combines elements of suspense, horror, and an exciting adventure story. The series centers on a librarian with special powers who serves as the "Protector of the Pure of Page." His mission is to protect the world from dangerous books and the monstrous creatures that escape them.
Through its suspenseful story and rich illustrations, Doom captivates young readers and cultivates their interest in reading.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
An inspiring chapter book that follows the journey of Ally Nickerson, a middle schooler who struggles with dyslexia. Ally uses distractions to hide her inability to read, but this leads to feelings of loneliness. However, her life takes a turn when she meets Mr. Daniels, a substitute teacher who sees past her disruptive behavior. This new friend helps Ally to understand her dyslexia is not the limitation she believes it to be. Instead, it provides her with a unique way to see the world.
The War That Saved My Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
A poignant novel set against the backdrop of World War II. The story centers on Ada, a dyslexic girl with a clubfoot who has never been allowed to leave home because of her mother's shame and prejudice. However, when her little brother Jamie is sent away to escape the impending war, Ada seizes the opportunity to join him on a journey of self-discovery.
Tips for Choosing Good Readers Books
While the above books are a great place to start, this isn't a one-size-fits-all list. Remember, it's essential to remember some key tips when selecting books for dyslexic children and young adults.
Make sure to assess the reading level of students as it will improve your ability to provide helpful books. Matching kids to appropriate titles using lexile levels for books is a great place to start.
The use of multi-sensory teaching methods can also be beneficial. Titles that use visuals, audiobooks, and tactile activities to help those with dyslexia better understand the text. Creating games for readers to play in the classroom can ease the anxiety some kids feel about reading.
A focus on structured literacy is also important. Structured literacy is a method of teaching reading (along with recognition of vocabulary words) that emphasizes phonemic awareness and phonics with decodable readers.
Involving Students in the Process
Involving students in the book selection process is important, as it helps them stay motivated. Ask children about their favorite books and discuss their current interest. Then help them to seek our high interest, low readability books that are likely to engage them.
Final thoughts on using good reader books to help students with dyslexia
Teacher awareness and the selection of good reader books is critical in helping dyslexic students overcome reading difficulties and build confidence. Graphic novels, illustrated stories, and chapter books, that are specially designed for easy reading, can act as gateways to improved literacy for dyslexic students.
Furthermore, involving students in the book selection process can significantly boost their motivation and engagement with reading materials. Not only can these books help bridge the gap in reading skills, they can also foster a lifelong love of reading.
Finally, embracing a multi-sensory teaching approach and employing structured literacy methods will also facilitate better learning.
Good teachers always cater their approach to the needs of their students. While working with a dyslexic child will present a new set of challenges, mindul teaching strategies can turn these reading challenges into an exciting adventure on the path to literacy.