Parent Education for Understanding Dyslexia

Dyslexia Books

There are many well-written books on the subject of learning differences.  The books I have listed here are books that I own and have read and reread.  (All images link to Amazon and are affiliate links meaning I make a very small percentage of the purchase price if you buy the book through my site.  It does not affect your cost.)

Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz

When this book came out in 2005, it turned the world of understanding dyslexia upside down.  Written by neuroscientist Dr. Sally Shaywitz of Yale University, it chronicles the ground-breaking research using the results from Functional MRIs to trace the cause of dyslexia to a weakness in the language system at the phonological level.  Don’t let the terminology scare you.  This book is written for the lay person and is a treasure of information well-grounded in science.  Includes exercises and techniques for working effectively with your dyslexic child.

The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss

After years of battling with a school system that did not understand his dyslexia and the shame that accompanied it, renowned activist and entrepreneur Ben Foss is not only open about his dyslexia, he is proud of it. In The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan he shares his personal triumphs and failures so that you can learn from his experiences, and provides a three-step approach for success:

• Identify your child’s profile: By mapping your child’s strengths and weaknesses and assisting her to better understand who she is, you can help your child move away from shame and feelings of inadequacy and move toward creating a powerful program for learning.
• Help your child help himself: Coach your child to become his own best advocate by developing resiliency, confidence, and self-awareness, and focusing on achievable goals in areas that matter most to him.
• Create community: Dyslexic children are not broken, but too often the system designed to educate them is. Dare to change your school so that your child has the resources to thrive. Understanding your rights and finding allies will make you and your child feel connected and no longer alone.

The Dyslexic Advantage  by Brock Eide and Fernette Eide

With inspiring testimonials, this paradigm-shifting book proves that dyslexia doesn’t have to be a detriment, but can often become an asset for success.  The struggles as parents of struggling readers are often immense as we work to advocate for them in a society that, more often than not, discards a dyslexic intellect as inferior and unlikely to succeed in life. This wonderful book explains through example after example how the complete opposite is the case. Dyslexic minds may have troubles with conventional ways of “doing things” but it is for that reason that they have been the pivotal forces behind discoveries and innovations that have led our culture forward for centuries.  Includes extensive coverage of accommodations (like speech-to-text software and digital books).

Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World by Jeffery Freed and Laurie Parsons

Written by a former teacher and educational therapist, this book explains the unique differences that predominantly right-brained thinkers possess.  Contains a checklist to determine whether you and your child are right-brained thinkers and a simple step-by-step program to help these kids learn and excel utilizing their unique strengths.

Dyslexia 101:  Truths, Myth and What Really Works by Marianne Sunderland (me!)

I wrote Dyslexia 101 as a parent’s quick-start guide to understanding the world of dyslexia.  Get up to speed quickly with brief, to-the-point chapters on:

  • What is Dyslexia?
  • How to Know if You or Your Child Has Dyslexia
  • Everything You Need to Know About Testing
  • Reading Instruction That Works
  • Navigating the Public School System
  • Everything you Need to Know to Start Homeschooling Your Dyslexic Child
  • When to Hire an Educational Therapist
  • Dyslexia in High School and College
  • Encouragement for Parents
  • Tips for Teachers
  • Hope for Students

Homeschooling the Challenging Child by Christine Field

Written by a former lawyer turned homeschool mother.  Chapters address how to deal with issues stemming from various learning disabilities, attention disorders, personality clashes, learning styles, discipline problems, managing stress and discouragement, how to plan a program, and the importance of keeping in mind the tenets of God’s love and forgiveness. Hands-on tips for managing a successful home education program, as well as how to find professional help from support groups.

Unicorns Are Real:  A Right-Brained Approach to Learning  by Barbara Meister Vitale

Don’t let the title of this book put you off.  “Unicorns are real” was a statement made by a young student of the author that was the catalyst for leading her to begin to better understand the differences between her right-brained students and left-brained students.

Written in an easy to understand style and full of real life practical strategies for teaching the predominantly right-brained learner.  The book begins with an easily understood, yet surprisingly in-depth description of brain structure and function as it pertains to learning.  The book also contains simple, do-at-home procedures for testing your child for brain dominance.

Your Child’s Growing Mind by Dr. Jane Healy

Considered the classic guide to understanding children’s mental development.  She explains the building blocks of reading, writing, spelling, and mathematics and shows how to help kids of all ages develop motivation, attention, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.  She also looks at learning issues, ADHD, and the influences of electronic media – all through the lens of the science of childhood development.

Brain-Integration Therapy Manual by Dianne Craft

Brain Integration Therapy is a method to enhance brain function are by performing simple physical movements that cross the midline.  It has been found to profoundly improve ADD/ADHD/Dyslexic conditions as well as other learning struggles.  In a few minutes a day, you can vastly improve your child’s focus, reduce stress and improve school performance.  Yes, this works!

Dyslexia Parent Courses

Parent Dyslexia Training Courses from  These courses were designed by a certified dyslexia tutor who also happens to be a homeschooling mother of 7 dyslexic kids.  Courses are written to educate parents about dyslexia, giving practical research-based tips for teaching with everyday experiences for examples.  Many parents have said that these courses were the missing link between their understanding of dyslexia and their ability to teach their dyslexic kids how they learn.

Dyslexia Training Institute  From webinars on dyslexia and special education law, to classes on how to teach kids with dyslexia, to a full blown dyslexia tutor certificate program, the Dyslexia Training Institute provides quality, evidence-based instruction for parents and teachers.

Wrightslaw  Wrightslaw is an organization that exists to educate parents and teachers about special education law and advocacy. They have thousand os articles, cases resources and now are offering training programs on advocacy and special education law and understanding test scores.  More courses are planned for the future.

Dyslexia Web Sites

Get Ready to Read  A wealth of information and tools to educate parents on how younger kids (ages 3-5) learn, the stages of reading readiness and tips, webinars and links to more excellent resources than I can name here.  Includes a free online screening tool that you can do with your emergent reader right at home to asses the skills of your child.  The screening results let a parent know whether or not to take specific actions such as introducing new skills, offer additional instruction, practice or support or if further assessment is needed.

LD Online   One of the best informational sites on learning disabilities and ADHD.  The site features hundreds of helpful articles, multimedia, a comprehensive resource guide, discussion forums, and a referral directory of professionals, schools and products.   Also offers information and resources for the transition from high school to college and from college to the workplace for adults with learning disabilities.

Dyslexic Advantage   From the writers of the book of the same name.  This site is full of information, current research and forums to start and contribute to discussions of issues important to you.

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity   Concise site full of information for parents, educators and policy-makers.

Bright Solutions for Dyslexia  Susan Barton is the developer of the Barton Reading & Spelling System.  This is a science-based program that you can easily do from home.  Be sure to have your child tested before beginning any treatment program to know for sure what your child’s specific areas of weakness are.  Her site is full of information on everything from defining dyslexia to finding a tester or tutor in your area.

Dyslexia Help from the University of Michigan  Tons of useful, relevant articles and resources on dyslexia for parents, teachers and students.

Reading Rockets  More useful articles and resources for parents and teachers.  Sign up for their monthly newsletter to keep up on the latest research, resources and methods for teaching kids with dyslexia.

Understood  A new web site built for parents of kids with dyslexia and attention issues.  With state-of-the-art technology, personalized resources, access to experts, a secure online community, practical tips and more.

Homeschooling With Dyslexia   Information, education and encouragement for parents that choose to homeschool their kids with dyslexia.

Decoding Dyslexia  A parent-led grassroots movement for promoting the rights of people with dyslexia.

Headstrong Nation  A web site founded by Ben Foss, author of The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan.  This site was created by dyslexic adults and for dyslexic adults.  The goal is to empower dyslexics so that they can fulfill their potential.

Reading Resource  Tons of resources for helping struggling readers written by two educators with many years of experiences.  Lots of great resources and information here.

Must-Read Articles on Dyslexia

The Unappreciated Benefits of Dyslexia   Wired Magazine

A thought-provoking interview with Brock and Fernette Eide, authors of The Dyslexic Advantage.

Defining My Dyslexia  The New York Times

A dyslexic doctor discusses the benefits of dyslexia, if dyslexia should be ‘diagnosed’ or if it is a natural variation in the human brain.

The Advantages of Dyslexia Scientific American

A dyslexic astrophysicist examines the benefits of dyslexia.

Richard Branson on Turning a Disadvantage to Your Advantage Entrepreneur Magazine

An incredibly insightful article by dyslexic entrepreneur and millionaire, Richard Branson.

Reading Web Sites for Kids

Starfall  A free public service to teach kids to read with phonics.  Starfall combines phonemic awareness practice with a systematic phonics instruction and highly engaging visuals.  My kids love this program.  Check out the Starfall iPad app too.

Nessy Reading  An online reading program that makes learning to read fun and engaging.  Many parents of kids with dyslexia report that their kids love this site.  I know that my kids do! Read my complete review here and learn about a special discount for Homeschooling With Dyslexia readers.

 Get Ready to Read  A site designed to support educators, parents, and young children in the development of early literacy skills in the years before kindergarten.

Interactive Reading Games for Kids


The Alphabet

Upper and Lower Case Matching

Letter Formation

ABC Order


Beginning Sounds

Ending Sounds


Blending/Segmenting Sounds

Deleting Sounds

Manipulating Sounds

Manipulating Sentences


Basic Code/Nonsense Words


Read & Listen




Synonyms & Antonyms



Vocabulary Words

Prefixes and Suffixes

Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives

Ipad Apps for Dyslexia

Web Reader HD   Text-to-speech app that can read web page content.  Super easy to use and mostly effective.

Dragon Go! (FREE)  Allows you to speak what you are searching for on the web so Google, Wikipedia and YouTube are defaults.

Dragon Dictation (FREE)  This is a voice recognition app that allows the user to see the text generated through speaking instead of typing.  Can be used with some popular social networking sites.

Soundnote ($4.99) A note-taking app that basically turns your iPad into a Livescribe pen.  (See above under Compensation Tech)  Records lectures and then syncs the audio to what you type or scribble in.  The audio recording is time-locked to your typing and drawing.  You may want to use a keyboard or stylus for this app to be more functional.

PaperDesk ($2.99)  Another note-taking app like Soundnote but that has more options like inserting photos, importing pdfs, organizing pages into notebooks, and an option to export.  More complicated to use than Soundnote.

Speller (FREE) Allows you to type in a word phonetically (based on how it sounds) and it will come up with the actual spelling of the word.  It also provides definitions to help you understand the meaning of the word.

Reading Trainer  ($1.99)  Helps improve reading speed with fun exercises.

Read Say  ($1.99)  Teaches grade appropriate Dolch sight words (the 220 words that appear most frequently in reading) by showing each word, speaking it aloud and tracking your progress.  We LOVE flashcard apps!

Sound Literacy ($24.99)  Open-ended design for teaching phonemic awareness, phonological processing, and more sound awareness activities  – all weaknesses in struggling readers. App features phoneme tiles for hands-on manipulating.  See their web site to see if this is a good fit for your family

Idea Sketch (FREE)  lets you draw a diagram (mind map, concept map, or flow chart) convert it to a text outline and vice versa/  It can be used to brainstorm ideas, illustrate concepts, make lists and outlines, and more.  Great for visual thinkers.

ModMath: Designed for individuals with dyslexia and dysgraphia for whom the mechanics of writing math problems causes a barrier. ModMath takes care of the construction of, for example, the long division problem. After that, solving that problem is up to you.

VoiceDream: Text-to-speech to aid in reading. This app also allows for screen, font and text size customization and highlighting. It has a built-in dictionary and works with text from lots of sources (PDF, ebooks, email). If you’ve looked into text-to-speech apps, you’ll agree that the power of VoiceDream does sound dreamy in comparison.

Notability: Takes “handwritten” notes on documents to allow for adding sketches to PDF or graphics or editing student work (!!). Notability also has an audio recording feature for auditory learners, photo capability and it coordinates with sharing platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox. This will be my next download.

StoryVisualizer: Creates storybooks for students using their words and images. From Lego Education.

UsTyme: Allows two people to remotely read a story together by coupling FaceTime-like software with reading. Would be great for traveling parents or faraway relatives. I’m thinking about using this as a formative assessment to check-in with students who are using iPads for reading either in the classroom or for homework.

DyslexiaQuest: A series of games designed to “assess working memory, phonological awareness, processing speed, visual memory, auditory memory and sequencing skills.” Gamers are encouraged to keep practicing to master skills.

Read2Go (iOS) or Go Read (Android): Makes books accessible to people with print disabilities. Developed by Bookshare.

Co:Writer: Word prediction software aids writing in real-time or later when editing. Text-to-speech feature reads letters, words, sentences, documents, which is great because not many have this thorough level of read-aloud. Produced by Don Johnston and features the grammar-smart word prediction that his company is famous for. Opt for the SOLO Suite and get Co:Writer; Read:Outloud; Write:Outloud and Draft:Builder.

General Productivity Apps:

Corkulous: For everything you’d tack on a corkboard or jot on a sticky note (phone numbers, reminders, dates, etc.). Sounds like a more practical Pinterest.

Voxer: Voice messaging somewhere between walkie-talkie and phone conversation. Allows users to skip the ringing and the voice mail message and cut straight to leaving a message/“vox”. Quick & practical.

The Little Memory: If Twitter had a journal feature, it’d be The Little Memory. Write short memories or accounts of your day.

Haiku Deck: Prettier, more powerful slide presentations. At a glance, it seems like a Prezi contender. (Prezi is awesome!)

Finally, Graphite is a site for educators to find and review tech to use in class, including apps, sites and games. Go there for more.

Assistive Technology Tools for Dyslexia

Livescribe Smartpen  An amazing device, this is a pen that captures everything you hear and write while linking your audio recordings to your notes.  Great for a student sitting in a lecture hall.  Later, playback the recording or tap your notes with the pen to go back to just one particular area.  Our daughter used this in her first college classes and loved it.

Dragon Naturally Speaking  This is a speech-recognition program that can be used to, among other things, dictate everything from answers to schoolwork, to a five-paragraph essay.  You can even dictate emails, surf the web with voice commands or dictate on your smartphone.

Sources for Audio Books


Learning Ally  Low priced audio books and textbooks for people with a diagnosis of dyslexia.  Parent and teacher support.

Books Should Be Free  Free public domain audio books and ebooks for use with iPhone, Kindle and mp3 players.

Bookshare  An online library of digital books for people with print disabilities.  It operates under exception to US Copywright law which allows copyrighted digital books (not just public domain) to be made available to people with qualifying disabilities.  To become a member you must prove that you have a need for their service by completing a proof of disability form (available on their web site).

Effective Reading Curricula

All About Reading   All About Reading is hands on, simultaneously multisensory introduction into the written word.  Every lesson comes with an engaging phonemic awareness activity that is so fun, your kids won’t know they are learning one of the most foundational skills of reading success.  Lessons are completely scripted so there is little prep time for mom.  The customer service at All About Learning Press is top notch.  Specifically designed for the homeschooled student that struggles with reading.  This program has all of the elements of an Orton-Gillingham research-based reading program.  For more information, click the image below.

All About Spelling – From the makers of All About Reading (above).  All About SPelling teaches encoding skills, spelling rules and multisensory strategies to help your student remember what they are learning.  Easy to use and easy to get help from the extensive customer support articles and forums.

Barton – Another one-on-one reading tutoring system, completely scripted for easy parent use and Orton-Gillingham based.

The Wilson Program   Not as user friendly as All About Reading/Spelling or Barton but an affordable, evidence-based program that really works.

Rewards – An intervention program for reading and writing designed for grades 6 and up.  An excellent resource to increase fluency rates, deepen comprehension and increase precision in sentence writing.

AVKO spelling – Teaches spelling by teaching the patterns of spelling.  Some kids do better with this approach to spelling instruction.

For the Older Struggling Learner

Older struggling readers have the same problems as younger readers and need to learn and master the same skills.  The good news is that all kids {and adults} can learn to read.  The key is to find a program that is not ‘babyish’ and that systematically teaches at an intense enough pace to keep progress steady thus motivating the student.  Reading Horizons is all of these things.  Click here for more information, my review and purchase options.


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