Books for Tweens and Teens on Learning and Attention Issues

By Erica Patino

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Books about kids with learning and attention issues can keep your child from feeling alone. Check out these great reads for children ages 9–12 and all the way up to teens preparing for college.

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Here’s Hank book cover
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“Hank Zipzer”

You may know actor Henry Winkler from his role as The Fonz on the TV show Happy Days. Winkler has lived with dyslexia all his life. With coauthor Lin Oliver and illustrator Jesse Joshua Watson, Winkler created the Hank Zipzer series about “the world’s greatest underachiever,” a boy with dyslexia. The series is written for kids 9–12 and deals with learning issues in a funny and sensitive way. Titles include Summer School! What Genius Thought That Up? and The Night I Flunked My Field Trip.

Trout & Me book cover
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“Trout and Me”

Trout and Me, by Susan Shreve, is a fictional story about 11-year-old Ben, who gets into trouble because he has ADHD. But Ben—who also has dyslexia—is not a bad kid. Then a new boy named Trout shows up in class. Trout also has ADHD. But Trout is a much bigger troublemaker than Ben. Can Ben convince the adults that it’s the ADHD, not Trout, creating problems? This story for kids 9–12 takes a frank look at ADHD and give kids a lot to ponder.

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Bluefish, by Pat Schmatz, is a fiction book about eighth grader Travis, who can’t read. In this witty novel for ages 12 and up, Travis finds an unusual friend and a determined teacher who both help him succeed at his new school. The book is about the power of literature—and the power of friendship.

Backwards Forwards book cover
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“Backwards Forward: My Journey Through Dyslexia”

The nonfiction book Backwards Forward: My Journey Through Dyslexia, by Catherine Hirschman, is a firsthand account of living with dyslexia. The book was cowritten by Hirschman, a 32-year-old woman with learning issues, and her mother. The authors offer a personal window into their lives, beginning in early childhood and continuing through adulthood. Of special interest are Hirschman’s descriptions of how her struggles with dyslexia affected her relationship with friends and family. The book is good for older kids (middle and high school) as well as parents.

Brains Gone Wild book cover
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“ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild”

ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild, by Jonathan Chesner, is a fun and practical nonfiction book about living with ADHD. The book features bright colors and designs. More than 60 short chapters address distinct topics, such as dating, homework and family life. It explores how kids with ADHD can adjust to or accomplish things that don’t come easily. This book is for kids 13 and up.

Caged in Chaos book cover
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“Caged in Chaos: A Dyspraxic Guide to Breaking Free”

This nonfiction book was written by a Victoria Biggs, a teenage girl with dyspraxia, which affects motor skill development and often exists with learning issues. Caged in Chaos: A Dyspraxic Guide to Breaking Free is a positive, practical guide for teens struggling with the physical, social, emotional and learning issues caused by dyspraxia. In a conversational style, Biggs describes the primary effects of her learning difference—disorganization, clumsiness and poor short-term memory. And she also talks about the bullying, low self-esteem and loneliness she endures. This book is for kids 13 and up.

Learning Disabilities teen guide book cover
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“Learning Disabilities: The Ultimate Teen Guide”

Learning Disabilities: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Penny Hutchins Paquette and Cheryl Gerson Tuttle, is a highly readable nonfiction book. It offers teens a solid base of information about learning disabilities. The book includes definitions, coping strategies, tips on interpreting test results, legal considerations and postsecondary school options. Each chapter includes a description of how it feels to have a particular disability. It describes symptoms and offers practical suggestions and resources. Profiles, success stories and quotes are sprinkled throughout.

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“College Success for Students with Learning Disabilities”

As high school students with LD start to think about college, how do they plan for their college years? There are no IEPs in college, so a student’s skills in self-advocacy become even more important. College Success for Students with Learning Disabilities, by Cynthia Simpson and Vicky Spencer, provides guidance and practical strategies specifically for students with learning disabilities so that they can make the most of their college experience.

The books in this slideshow provide kids with great ideas for addressing the challenges of their learning and attention issues. There are other ways to help, too. Consider finding your child a mentor. And look for ways to boost your child’s self-esteem.

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7 Strategies to Promote Positive Thinking

Many parents of kids with learning and attention issues can be hard on themselves. But positive thinking can keep you motivated. And that sets a good example for your child! Here are strategies you can try.

11 Books to Help Kids Learn to Take On Challenges

What type of books help kids with learning and attention issues the most? Ones that promote a “growth mindset,” says Ellen Galinsky, best-selling author of Mind in the Making. These 11 titles, chosen by Galinsky for the nonprofit First Book, can help kids feel like they can grow and succeed despite their challenges.

Understood does not endorse or receive financial compensation for the sale of any of these products.

About the Author

Portrait of Erica Patino

Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt is certified in elementary and special education, with experience in inclusion, resource room and self-contained settings.

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