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When you have a child with learning and attention issues, books can be a huge help. Check out these resources on building your child’s self-esteem, helping him learn, getting the services he needs and more.

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misunderstood child
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“The Misunderstood Child,” by Larry B. Silver, M.D.

The Misunderstood Child is a classic guide that has been in print for 20 years. The fourth edition contains the latest research on topics like genetics, plus an expanded section on ADHD. It also looks at problems that sometimes accompany learning and attention issues. These include depression, anxiety and anger. And it lists resources, websites and groups that can provide treatment and support for you and your child.

raising resilient children
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“Raising Resilient Children,” by Robert Brooks, Ph.D., and Sam Goldstein, Ph.D.

Kids with learning and attention issues may struggle with self-esteem. Raising Resilient Children can help you learn to focus on your child’s strengths in order to boost his sense of self-worth. It describes 10 essential parenting behaviors that can help build resilience. And it offers insight into the minds of kids and teens with learning and attention issues.

it's so much work to be your friend
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“It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend: Helping the Child With Learning Disabilities Find Social Success,” by Richard Lavoie

If your child has trouble making friends or dealing with social situations, It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend may shed light on the problem. It explains how learning and attention issues can impact kids’ social skills. It’s organized by different sets of skills and where they’re used: at home, at school and in the community. The book doesn’t just offer explanations, however. It gives practical advice on things like how to spot learning and attention issues and how to change kids’ behavior.

the dyslexic advantage
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“The Dyslexic Advantage,” by Brock L. Eide, M.D., and Fernette F. Eide, M.D.

Despite the challenges it creates, having dyslexia isn’t all negative. At least that’s what the authors contend. The Dyslexic Advantage focuses on the areas in which people with dyslexia often excel. These include things like creativity and spatial relations. It points to careers that people with dyslexia often do well at, such as law and engineering. The book also offers advice on how you can help your child use his learning strengths to his advantage.

from emotions to advocacy
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“From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide,” by Peter W.D. Wright and Pamela Wright

Finding your way around the world of special education can be challenging. From Emotions to Advocacy, a practical guide now in its second edition, gives advice on everything from how to prepare your child for special education to how to get the best services. It also provides tips on dealing with parent-school conflicts. That includes how to write effective letters and how to create the paper trails you need. It’s a great resource to help you be an effective advocate for your child.

making the system work
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“Making the System Work for Your Child With ADHD,” by Peter S. Jensen, M.D.

Having trouble navigating the complex system of help for ADHD? Making the System Work for Your Child With ADHD can help you understand the role of teachers, doctors, schools and health-care plans. It can also help you troubleshoot problems that come up. The author writes from his experiences as a physician and researcher, but also as a parent advocate and the father of a son with ADHD.

ready to take off
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“Ready for Take-Off: Preparing Your Teen With ADHD or LD for College,” by Theresa E. Laurie Maitland, Ph.D., and Patricia O. Quinn, M.D.

Ready for Take-Off is a hands-on book that offers ideas for getting kids up to speed on the life and learning skills they’ll need in college. It provides surveys and worksheets for parents to gauge how ready their child is. The book also helps parents identify their “coaching style” when working with their teen. And it explains how to create a readiness plan to get kids prepared for college in a gradual and organized way.

Thinking Differently
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“Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children With Learning Disabilities,” by David Flink

Thinking Differently is a comprehensive guide for parents of children with learning issues. It offers actionable advice for how to move past the myth that kids just “need to try harder.” Flink gives practical advice for handling common problems and includes a “Step-by-Step Launchpad to Empowerment.” Along the way, he also shares stories and strategies to inspire parents to assist children in discovering their inner gifts, build self-esteem and gain self-advocacy skills.

Read an excerpt from Thinking Differently.

The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan
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“The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning,” by Ben Foss

The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan doesn’t just explain what dyslexia is—it explains what it’s like to have dyslexia and how you can help your child with dyslexia thrive. Foss, who has dyslexia, says that having trouble reading isn’t the same as having trouble learning. He offers tools to map your child’s strengths and weaknesses, which can help you help your child build self-confidence and create a learning plan. The book also provides concrete ways to help your child find the resources he needs to feel supported.

See Foss in action! In this clip, he shows parents how he “ear reads.”

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10 Simple Ways for Parents to Recharge

Do you feel like you’re running on empty? You’re not alone. All parents feel like this at times. And parenting a child with learning and attention issues can be especially draining. Here are 10 easy ways to recharge when your energy reserves are running low.

9 Ways to Keep Your Challenges From Affecting Your Relationships

Learning and attention issues can impact many aspects of day-to-day life, including your marriage and your relationship with your kids. Here are some strategies to help you overcome your challenges.

About the Author

Understood Team Graphic

The Understood Team is composed of writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Elizabeth Harstad

Elizabeth Harstad, M.D., M.P.H., is a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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