For kids with dyslexia, reading a book can be very challenging. But when books tap into their passions, kids with dyslexia can learn to enjoy reading and find books that inspire them.
That’s what happened for these five adults with dyslexia. Here they each share the book that turned them on to reading, and why.
1. Riding Freedom, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
“When I was young, I was obsessed with riding horses. It was my only outlet from school and seemed like the only thing I excelled at doing. I loved this book so much I convinced my school to invite Pam to do a reading. Her writing style was extremely accessible to me. And the fact that the book was historical fiction about horses and woman empowerment made it even better. It was the first and probably only book that I have ever read that made me completely forget about my struggle to read.”
—Natalie Tamburello, program associate for the National Center for Learning Disabilities
2. Percy Jackson series, by Rick Riordan
“One of the best things that helped me overcome my dyslexia was the set of Percy Jackson books. When you’re reading along, you feel like you’re in the story. Percy Jackson, the main character, has dyslexia and . He’s been kicked out of schools because no one can figure out how to help him. I can relate to that. But he’s also a superhero who overcomes his learning and thinking differences. I have those books to fall back on. They make me feel like I have a greater purpose.”
—Jocelyn Hanrath, college student
3. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
“I loved reading this book because the writing style is completely visual. I was transported to all the cities and all the fountains. It engaged a part of the brain that we love dealing with, which is visual. Even if you can’t read all the words, dyslexic people tend to be able to make sense of incomplete data. So it was written in a way that if you couldn’t read all of it, you were still taken through the story.”
—Stan Gloss, entrepreneur
4. The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe
“I saw the Challenger explode. In a sense, I felt so engaged in that moment of cultural trauma. All of a sudden, I wanted to watch the news all of the time. I think for the first time in my life I picked up a newspaper. And my mom noticed this spark. She took me to see the movie The Right Stuff. Then she gave me The Right Stuff, the book. It was the first time that I had actually wanted to pick up a novel and read it.”
—Gabrielle Rappolt-Schlichtmann, scientist
5. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers
“This was the first book that ever had an impact on me. I read it because the Princeton Review recommended it. It was a lot longer than most of the books I had previously read. But I loved the metaphors and writing style. It was the first time I was really transported through a book. It was based in San Francisco and I used to travel there with my mom every summer. This was the first book I read for pleasure, and it led me to read more.”
—Catie Bulger, college student
See our community picks for great books for struggling readers. And explore more books for reluctant readers in grade school, middle school and high school.
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The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.