2022 Gift Giving Guide (from a Dyslexia Specialist)

Once early December hits, we are all serious about selecting the perfect gifts for the special people on our lists. If your list includes individuals with dyslexia, those who parent a dyslexic child or an educator who geeks our on books that hone her teaching craft, then this is the gift guide for you! I am affiliation-free, so purchase these items where you find them, but most are available on Amazon.



Toys and Games


Simon

This game is a family game that is lots of fun and builds working memory. The game features a disk with four colored light panels which create a sequence to be repeated correctly. The updated version is a lot smoother than the version you may recall from the eighties. :)


Plus Plus Blocks

These blocks are double-pronged, plus-shaped rubber building pieces that require a bit of a pinch to interlock. Loads of fun items can be constructed with them. That extra bit of pressure required to connect the bricks builds muscle tone in little hands, improving penmanship skills.


Perplexus Balls

These mazes inside a clear ball require spatial awareness to successfully

navigate the ball along the numbered track. The obstacles are accessed by rotating the ball and mastering tricky moves. This game relies on a strength of many dyslexic individuals, spatial awareness, meaning it is a game in which your dyslexic child is likely to be the family expert!


Spot It

This card game This easy-to-learn card game requires no reading. It builds pattern

recognition, quick processing speed, and working memory as players vie to find the one

matching picture before their opponents. A great family game!


Lego bricks

Legos have to be one of the best mediums for creative building ever invented. We know dyslexic individuals are bursting with creativity! One of the duo who won Fox TV’s Lego Masters Season 2 is dyslexic, so you know a box of bricks is going to be a hit with your dyslexic child.


Kid’s Yoga Ball/Wiggle Seat

For those afternoons when sitting for homework completion is a really big ask, a wiggle ball for your child to sit on can be of help! The wiggle seat version varies from a standard yoga ball by having some support “legs” (okay, they look like a cow udder...) to help keep the ball under the child or in place when not in use. I have seen these used very successfully in the classroom. There is an adult-size ball if your teen would benefit from one too.



Books

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few of my favorites.


For Kids


It’s Called Dyslexia by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos is my personal top pick for the grade 1-2

dyslexic set. The main character in the book experiences the classic struggles of dyslexia in the classroom and then walks through testing then kinesthetic remediation techniques to find her voice through writing poems. Lots of accurate information with a hopeful tone and charming illustrations.


Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco is a great picture book for the 2-5 graders in the crowd. The final page of the book indicates this is an autobiographical story, in which the child version of Ms. Polacco suffers at the hands of bullies who tease her for her inability to read. A caring teacher steps in, and through innovative, kinesthetic techniques helps her to improve until one day she achieves her most heartfelt wish.


Fish in A Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt is my favorite of all chapter books about dyslexia for

grades 4-6. This story hits so many of the factors which make school life tough for struggling students, and not just for those with dyslexia. The main character is taken through a journey from being a friendless sixth grader who would choose to be sent to the principal’s office rather than have to read in class to the recipient of her new teacher’s revolutionary instructional techniques.


Hacking the Code by Gea Meijering is a fun read for dyslexic boys in grades 5-7. The main character, Keys (pronounced “Case”) suffers the same school difficulties which are familiar to children with dyslexia. The story is a great boy read because of the hilarious (but harmless) pranks Keys and his friends indulge in. It is the punishment for the pranks which allows Keys to finally put language to how he feels about his dyslexia, and what small school changes would help him. I especially like how Keys compares his dyslexic brain to an iPhone, and the non-dyslexic brain to an android. The audiobook version of Hacking the Code has a voice actor with just the right cool, older brother tone in his voice.


Books for parents of dyslexic children


Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz. This is probably our generation’s seminal work on dyslexia. Lots of in-depth information and a deep dive into the brain architecture which causes dyslexia.


Parenting a Struggling Reader by Susan Hall and Louisa Moats A book by moms, for moms, this one hits the sweet spot between providing clinical information about dyslexia and giving advice about how to manage the effects in your home and at your child’s school.


The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss This is a great dad-of-dyslexic-child book,

although Moms will find it informative too. While other books describe what dyslexia is, Ben Foss takes a more direct approach. He tells parents and teachers some steps they can take to help dyslexic kids find their strengths and weaknesses, how to coach kids to advocate for what they need, and how to create a healthy community for your dyslexic child.


Books for teachers


Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz. This is probably our generation’s seminal work on dyslexia. Lots of in-depth information and a deep dive into the brain architecture which causes dyslexia.


Make It Stick by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel This book is subtitled “The Science of

Successful Learning.” This book unpacks how learning happens in the brain as well as

evidence-based strategies for improving learning. This is the book I wish I had been aware of when I was in college and desperately needed better study techniques!


Speech to Print by Louisa Moats - A powerful handbook on how the individual elements of language work, and how they come together to allow students to read, spell and write. Case studies give faces to the techniques described, reminding all teachers that we hone our teaching craft so we can better reach students who are struggling.


Dyslexia and Spelling by Kelli Sandman-Hurley - A guide to spelling and dyslexia, yes! This book explains why kids with dyslexia find spelling so hard. The author then gives writing samples from real students, notes mistakes then goes on to explain how classroom teachers and interventionists can use individual student errors to inform instruction for that student. After reading this book, you will never again be content to just circle spelling errors and hand the bleeding paper back to a student.



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