11 Children's Books That Help Kids Understand Learning Disabilities
Physical disabilities may hinder a person's ability to accomplish something, but a learning disability can often be equally frustrating, especially for children. Without any physical symptoms or changes, kids often feel insecure and embarrassed by their learning disabilities. For children who don't have any, they may also find themselves conflicted about a peer who has difficulty reading or the kid who's always getting in trouble because they can't focus. Educational books can do a lot for understanding, but it's important to have children's books that help kids understand learning disabilities so they can connect with characters just like them.
According to the Learning Disabilities Association of Georgia, a learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects one or more of the basic psychological processes pertaining to writing or reading. The LDA of Georgia also noted that most people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence. They are not slow, they are not stupid, and they are not underachievers. Their disability is often called a "hidden disability" because they are just like everybody else in most ways.
But still, this can be confusing for a child to understand, and it helps to have these 11 children's books on the shelf to help them understand their learning disabilities and the disabilities of others.
1. 'Holy Enchilada' by Lin Oliver & Henry Winkler
The Hank Zipzer series is a great one for children with learning disabilities, but Holy Enchilada stands out as one of the best. The story, written by Henry Winkler (who battled dyslexia himself) is about Hank making enchiladas for class, but they turn out way too spicy. He starts to panic that his disability may have caused him to use three cups of peppers rather than a third and now he has to figure out how to save the class and get recess back.
2. 'Just Juice' by Karen Hesse
For those who are immensely talented and creative, a learning disability can make them feel like their talents are worthless. In Just Juice, a sweet tomboy named Juice is great at dancing and helping her father as a metalworker, but she has difficulty learning to read, write, and spell. No matter how hard she tries, she feels like it isn't enough, and those around her expect more because of her other talents. It is a sweet book that will make any kid with learning disabilities feel less alone.
3. 'Thank You, Mr. Falker' by Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco is one of my favorite children's book authors and Thank You, Mr. Falker is a serious work of art. Even the littlest ones will adore this story of an artistic girl named Trisha who excels in many areas, but can't seem to figure out reading or writing. Her teacher, Mr. Falker, realizes she has dyslexia and goes above and beyond to help her. It's perfect for children who feel alone and to remind them that there is a support system for them, no matter what.
4. 'Leo The Late Bloomer' by Robert Kraus
Some learning difficulties make children feel like they are farther behind than their classmates, but Leo The Late Bloomer can make them feel better. It is a darling story of a little tiger who isn't reading, writing, drawing, or speaking yet and the concerns his father has. But with his mother's confidence and reassurance, Leo realizes he can catch up.
5. 'Fish In A Tree' by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Fish In A Tree has a title that says it all — if you expect everyone to have the same skills and accomplishments, you might as well expect a fish to climb a tree. Ally has dyslexia, but as she bounces from school to school, she learns that she doesn't have to be disruptive just to hide her disability — it's nothing to be ashamed about.
6. 'Tom's Special Talent' by Kate Gaynor
For some children, the pressure to be good at writing and reading can make them feel less than, but Tom's Special Talent will remind them that they have talents to be proud of, even if accomplishments in school are often measured by how well you can read and write.
7. 'The Alphabet War' by Diane Burton Robb
The Alphabet War follows a boy with dyslexia from kindergarten to fourth grade, showing how he learned to read despite the war of letters that happened every time he opened a page. It will give your kids plenty of reassurance that eventually they can overcome their difficulties.
8. 'If You're So Smart, How Come You Can't Spell Mississippi?' by Barbara Esham
Often, kids think of learning disabilities as meaning they aren't smart. In If You're So Smart, How Come You Can't Spell Mississippi? a little girl finds it difficult to understand how her father can be such an intelligent lawyer, but still have trouble helping her with her homework.
9. 'Leah's Voice' by Lori DeMonia
Learning and social disabilities can often be misconstrued by those who don't understand, but Leah's Voice shares the story of two sisters and the ability of one to explain to her friends why her sister is just a little bit different. It's sweet and lovely and will remind your children of the support system surrounding them and how to advocate for others with learning disabilities.
10. 'It's Hard To Be A Verb!' by Julia Cook
Some learning disabilities include not being able to stay on task or focus, which is why It's Hard To Be a Verb is such a great book. For those who wiggle, jump, bounce, and find it hard to sit still, this book offers some great tips and ideas.
11. 'Terrific Teddy's Excessive Energy' by Jim Forgan Ph.D.
ADHD and ADD can be very confusing to kiddos, but Terrific Teddy's Excessive Energy explains what's happening when you can't control your energy and follow the rules, offering positive changes to manage the behavior.