There is a popular quote by George Evans related to learning differences in education “Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way.” I mention this quote not only because it is important for teachers to keep at the forefront of everything they do but also because I believe it is a powerful mantra for both students and their parents. 

Sometimes, when a child faces learning differences, there can be a well-intentioned tendency to focus, very heavily, on their deficits rather than also acknowledging their strengths. Of course, it is essential to identify “problem areas” in order to find effective solutions, though I also believe, even more important, is to understand a child’s strengths in order to shift mindsets about learning and leverage the prescribed learning. 

I have met and worked with children, of various ages, who were very attuned to the fact that they learned differently and when a deficit view was predominant, more often than not, these children became stuck in mindsets that illustrated a lack of self-efficacy and confidence in various learning processes. They often reverted to a mode of operation that resulted in comments such as “I cannot do, or take part in, something because of (insert learning issue or difficulty here)”. Sometimes they would shut down to a particular learning experience entirely. It can be quite hard to change these weeds of self-perception once their roots begin to take hold. 

When your child has been identified as having a learning difference or you find that their learning pace and pathway differs from that which you consider “normal” or “typical” (it can be tempting to compare one child to another, especially when you read books like: “Everything Your Second Grade Child Should Know” that perpetuate making comparisons) it can be extremely helpful to draw from resources that turn that deficit → strengths view upside down to allow for development of perseverance, a growth mindset and resilience in learning instead. Identifying, naming and understanding personal learning differences and strengths that can accompany them can be liberating and help your child to cultivate the confidence to be able to say  “I may be still be developing in/as a _______ but there are many things I am able to do well and that set me apart like: _______, ________, _________.” 

Below is my Top 10 list of literacy resources for both children and their parents that support the strengths approach, offer detailed insights into learning differences and profiles and provide valuable tips for parents. 

Numbers 10-7 are picture books or chapter book series written for children about being yourself and having learning differences. It can be very empowering for kids to see someone who is “just like them” in the books they read and with the characters they meet. It normalizes differences and supports your child in understanding that their uniqueness in learning makes them who they are. 

Numbers 6-1 are a combination of books and websites for parents that I really consider to be the “gold standards” as far as resources go, especially related to literacy. The first two books mentioned are titles that explore the strengths that those with “learning differences” can have. The last four are websites along with my all-time favorite book to recommend that provide both insight into learning differences and additional tips. 

Many of these titles and organizations have continued to guide, influence and inspire my work and I hope you will find them as helpful as I have. I am always happy to recommend additional resources, something that is also included in both my consultations and work with your child. 

Books For Children 

10. Just Ask, Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

9. Fish in a Tree 

8. It’s Called Dyslexia 

7. Hank Zipzer Series

Resources For Parents

6. Thinking Differently 

5. The Dyslexic Advantage

4. Reading Rockets for Parents

3. International Dyslexia Association


1. Overcoming Dyslexia Sally Shaywitz