Recommended Reading: Books by Authors With Learning Disabilities
People with learning disabilities (LD) are at the top of every field—and literature is no exception. Many of our favorite authors have overcome the adversity of LD to write books that entertain and inspire us. If you want to find out more about writers with LD or if you just want to find a quality summer read for yourself or your child, check out these books.
Books for ChildrenAlthough these authors struggled in school as children, they found ways to work around their struggles and now write books for kids.
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
George and Harold are a pair of troublemaking best friends. The boys create a superhero named “The Amazing Captain Underpants.” Blackmailed into working for their grouchy principal, the duo retaliates by hypnotizing him into believing that he is the superhero Captain Underpants…and the adventures don’t stop! Written in a comic book style, this book will engage even reluctant young readers.
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
As a threatening storm brews, a grandmother helps a little girl overcome her fear of thunder by baking a special cake. The story will help young children alleviate their own anxieties about bad weather and the delightful illustrations make the book a treat for kids and adults alike.
Books for Tweens and Young TeensThese age-appropriate books tell the stories of two young teens’ journeys as they mature in the face of adversity—something their authors know well as people with LD.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Charlotte Doyle, an upper-class teenager, joins the all-male crew aboard a transatlantic ship in the summer of 1832. She meets Zachariah; an African sailor aboard who warns her of the evil doings of the Captain. However, she refuses to believe his accusations, and befriends the captain. Later, upon witnessing the cruelties the captain inflicts upon his crew, Charlotte joins the crew in exposing the captain for the man he really is. This young adult novel will enthrall any middle school reader who loves adventure (and especially young history buffs).
My Name is Brain Brian by Jeanne Betancourt
Brian is your average middle-school kid...except for the fact that he has LD (and doesn’t know it yet). His classmates mock him for his struggles in reading and writing. But when his teacher detects his LD, she helps Brian get the help he needs to learn to work with his dyslexia. Many middle school readers with LD will recognize their own struggles in Brian’s tale.
Books for Older Teenagers and AdultsThese award-winning books for adults and high school readers show that authors with LD can produce stunning prose.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
In the summer of 1953, young Owen Meany hits a foul ball in a Little League game that strikes and kills his best friend’s mother. Owen believes that there is a larger reason for this tragedy—and he might just be right. This philosophical coming-of-age tale is beautifully crafted by John Irving, whose dyslexia didn’t stop him from writing one of modern literature’s classics.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Dana, a 26-year-old modern African-American woman, suffers a sudden dizzy spell and is transported to the antebellum South. Her journey back and forth through time, from her modern home in California to slave quarters on a plantation, exposes truths about race and identity. Science fiction fans will find much to love in this novel by one of the genre’s pioneers.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
Evelyn is an unhappy housewife when she meets Ninny, an elderly nursing home resident. As their friendship develops, Ninny tells stories of the residents of now-abandoned Whistle Stop, Alabama, inspiring both women to find happiness in their lives. This tale of friendship will inspire readers who like realistic and historical fiction.
Are you looking for books about the LD journey? Check out our recommended reading lists for children with LD, teens with LD and parents.