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10 Authors Who Are Dyslexic

Categories: Audiobook Library, Featured

Reading and writing for children who are dyslexic can be difficult but not impossible. Here are 10 dyslexic authors who managed to turn their learning difference into a gift, providing hope and the joy of reading for children just like them.


How Dyslexic Benny Becam a Star

About Author

Dog Man

About Author
The well-loved author of the Captain Underpants and Dog Man series doesn’t shy away from talking about his learning and attention issues. At school visits and book readings, Dav Pilkey is open about his own struggles with dyslexia and ADHD. He says that even when it was difficult for him, reading gave him superpowers. “I got the power of laughter, I got to travel to crazy new worlds where anything could happen, and my imagination—which is the greatest superpower of all—grew by leaps and bounds,” he says. “But one of the superpowers I am most grateful for receiving is the power of inspiration. These comics and illustrated stories inspired me to make my own comics and stories.”

Hank Zipzer

About Author
“Books terrified me,” Henry Winkler recalls of his entire school experience. “They made me nervous. Now I know you can travel to the bottom of the ocean or to outer space or anywhere in between without leaving your armchair and I'm so, so sorry I couldn't read when I was younger.” Diagnosed with dyslexia at age 31, Winkler started off as a successful actor. He became famous for playing “The Fonz” on Happy Days. He then went on to write the smash-hit series about Hank Zipzer, a boy with dyslexia, with coauthor Lin Oliver. To his readers—and to all kids with dyslexia—Winkler says, “Your grades do not define how brilliant you are. Good thinking and a good thought is why you are smart.”

Ninja Detectives

About Author
You may be surprised to hear that Octavia Spencer, who’s better known for being an Oscar-winning actress, is an author, too. She also has dyslexia. She published the first of two books in a series for middle-schoolers a few years ago. The Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective series is a set of mysteries. “I’m reading today because of Encyclopedia Brown,” Spencer says of the popular mystery books. Spencer remembers how scared she was in the first or second grade when she had to read aloud in class. “I was paralyzed with fear because I kept inverting words and dropping words. I didn’t want to be made to feel that I was not as smart as the other kids—because I know that I am a smart person.”

Cows for America

About Author
Carmen Agra Deedy fled Cuba as a child refugee in the 1960s and settled in a small town in Georgia with her family. As she learned to speak English, she struggled with reading and phonics. School soon became a painful experience. Growing up, she recalls, “I never wondered why I understood some people more clearly than others, why some words were more distinct—no more than I wondered what a revolution was.” She wouldn’t be diagnosed with dyslexia until nearly 30 years later. But by then she had fallen in love with the language of Shakespeare, thanks to her high school English teacher. Her love of children’s picture books came next, after the many visits she and her young kids made to the library.

The Red Necklace

About Author
This award-winning author of more than a dozen children’s books wasn’t always called Sally. She changed her name to Sally because her dyslexia made it hard for her to spell her name. Born Sarah, Gardner struggled with the “h” in her name. “My mother had a friend who was an actress called Sally who said, ‘Look, darling, the best thing to do is Sally because the s is like a snake, you have a little a and two long lines and a y to catch it all.’ And I thought, I can do that.” She did, and now her name is well-known for her incredible novels and fairy tales.

My Name is Brain Brian

About Author
It wasn’t until she was in her 40s that Jeanne Betancourt learned the name of the condition, dyslexia, that made spelling and reading so difficult for her as a child. Betancourt says having dyslexia helped her to become the author of more than 75 children’s books. “When I read or write, I hear every word in my head and I see things three-dimensionally. Hopefully, when people read my work, they pick up the rhythm of my writing and find it appealing—especially dyslexics, since I particularly want to make a connection with them.”

Chicken Sunday

About Author
Children’s author and illustrator Patricia Barber Polacco is a prolific writer, although she didn’t start her first book until the age of 41. She didn’t do well in school, and wasn’t able to read until the age of 14. Patricia suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia until a teacher recognized her disability. She recognized this great teacher in the book Thank You, Mr. Falker, which shares the story of what happened when he discovered her dyslexia.

Great Gatsby

About Author
As one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, F. Scott Fitzgerald is best known for his novel, The Great Gatsby, as well as many short stories. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, F. Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have had a learning disability which was mostly likely dyslexia. It’s reported that he was kicked out of school at the age of 12 for not focusing or finishing his work, and he had a very hard time spelling, but he succeeded as a writer despite his disability.



About Author
Avi is beloved for his middle grade reader historical fiction novels. With a half-century writing career, 50 books, two Newbery Honors, and a Newbery Medal, he has had a major impact on the world of fiction. But Avi’s writing hasn’t always been easy to deal with: his teachers complained of messy and careless writing. His sloppy work was due to dyslexia, and Avi had to take on special tutoring sessions after failing out of his first high school. It was during these tutoring sessions that Avi was inspired to become a writer, and he developed a love of reading and writing voraciously.

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