Books about Characters with Learning Differences - The Gateway School

Books about Characters with Learning Differences

So many children with learning differences are incredibly intelligent. Yet because they learn differently, they may feel misunderstood, or even inferior. Showing a broad range of learning differences, the books on this list depict characters who share the struggles of special needs kids. Hopefully, reading these books will help all students know that they are valued, not just in spite of, but because of their differences.

Books about Characters with Learning Differences

Younger Readers

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco.

In this autobiographical story, Trisha’s classmates think she’s dumb because she can’t make sense of words and letters. But her kind teacher Mr. Falker recognizes Trisha’s dyslexia--as well as her ability--and helps her succeed.

The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco.

Based on the author's own experience in a special needs classroom as a child, this book shows that all children have unique talents regardless of their learning differences.
The Alphabet War: A Story About Dyslexia by Diane Burton Robb. Illus. By Gail Piazza.
This story of a boy diagnosed with Dyslexia who fights with letters has a happy ending when he finally learns how to read.

Niagara Falls, Or Does It? By Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver.

Inspired by the experiences of Henry Winkler, who struggled in school with undiagnosed dyslexia, the Hank Zipzer series is about the high-spirited and funny adventures of a boy with learning differences. See the other books in the Hank Zipzer series.

Middle Grades

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff.

Albie’s learning differences make school a struggle, but his new tutor helps him see his unique strengths.

The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott.

Elliott, a former special needs teaching assistant, gives each teen a distinct voice as alternating narrators, Jaime and Agatha, travel by land and sea to rescue their clan in this Scottish-Gaelic inspired fantasy. Agatha, who has a condition similar to Down syndrome, is a proud Hawk, who watches from the walls of the clan’s Isle of Skye compound.

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks & Vita Varadarajan.

Alternating first person narratives tell the story of an unlikely friendship between Joe who has an auditory processing disorder, and Ravi who just moved from India. Both boys have a common enemy in the fifth grade bully, but otherwise think they have nothing in common.

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor.

In this poignant and powerful mystery, Mason, a seventh-grade boy diagnosed with severe dyslexia, survives bullying and finds a way to finally reveal the truth about what happened the day his best friend died.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

A perceptive teacher sees through sixth-grade Ally’s attempts to hide her secret--that she can’t read. Her brave journey to understanding her dyslexia is a powerful reminder for all kids to be empathetic of people’s learning differences.

Young Adult

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles.

Short chapters alternate between the perspectives of Quincy and Biddie, two special education students who have just graduated high school and are living on their own together. Both survivors of physical, mental, and sexual violence, the pair learn how to fend for themselves in the world.

Request a Tour of The Gateway School

Since 1980, RKS Associates has been a leader in providing the needs of special education students and helping children grow to their fullest potential. Each of our schools seeks to empower each student with skills for life, work, and recreation; we believe that every individual possesses the dignity and potential to contribute to a better world.

As part of the RKS Associates Network of schools in New Jersey, the goal at the Gateway School is to assist all students in becoming as independent as possible and help them get ready for the future. Located in Carteret, NJ, we serve individuals throughout Central and Northern New Jersey. Contact us at our main office at 732.541.4400 with any questions or schedule a private tour of the Gateway School today.

Chris Hoye, Principal-The Gateway School of Carteret, NJ