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Reading Disabilities

Definition of Developmental Reading Disability

Developmental reading disabilities are known by a few different names. One of the more common names is dyslexia. People will often misunderstand this disability and believe that it refers only to the inversion of letters and/or numbers. The definition is far more complex. The International Dyslexia Association definition:

"Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services." (Source: http://www.interdys.org/ewebeditpro5/upload/DyslexiaBasicsREVMay2012.pdf, retrieved March 21, 2013)


There are many reputable resources that educators, parents and children themselves can use in order to better understand developmental reading disabilities, and how to get the most out of various learning environments.  We have put together a list below, which we believe is an excellent starting place for people to start their learning process. 

Excellent General Resources

Dehaene, S. (2009) Reading in the brain:  The science and evolution of a human invention. New York, NY: Viking.

Fletcher, J. M., Lyon, G. R., Fuch, L. S., & Barnes, M. A. (2007). Learning disabilities: From identification to intervention. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.  (A synthesis of what is known from research.)

Shaywitz, S.E. (2003).  Overcoming Dyslexia.  New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Shaywitz, S.E., Morris, R., & Shaywitz, B.A. (2008). The education of dyslexic children from childhood to young adulthood. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 451-475.

Shaywitz, S.E., & Shaywitz, B.A. (2008). Paying attention to reading: The neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 1329-1349.

Wolf, M. (2007) Proust and the Squid:  The story and science of the reading brain.  New York, NY:  HarperCollins.

Materials for Parents and Teachers

Aaron, P.G., Malatesha Joshi, R., & Quatroche, D. (2008) Becoming a Professional Reading Teacher. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Adams, M.J., Foorman, B.R., Lundberg, I., & Beeler, T. (1998). Phonemic Awareness in Young Children: A Classroom Curriculum. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002).  Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction.  New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2008). Creating Robust Vocabulary: Frequently Asked Questions and Extended Examples. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Biemiller, A. (2010). Words Worth Teaching: Closing the Vocabulary Gap. Columbus, OH: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Botrie, M. & Wenger, P.  (1992). Teachers and parents together.  Markham ON, Canada:  Pembroke Publishers.

Cummings, R., & Fisher, G. (1993). The Survival Guide for Teenagers with LD. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing.

Fleet J., Goodchild F, & Zajchowski R. (1990). Learning for success: Skills and strategies for Canadian students. Toronto: Harcourt Brace.
This is an excellent text that contains strategies for learning from textbooks, preparing and taking exams (with specific strategies for multiple choice exams), and writing essays. This book raises students’ awareness of their own learning and how to capitalize on their potential using learning strategies. A new edition is available. This book is a fairly easy read for adolescents.

Graham, S. & Harris, K.R. (2005) Writing Better: Effective Strategies For Teaching Students With Learning Difficulties. Cambridge, MA: Brookes.

Hall, S.L., & Moats, L.C. (1999). Straight Talk About Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years. Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books.

Harris, K.R., Graham, S.,Mason, L.H., Friedlander, B. (2007) Powerful Writing Strategies for All Students. Cambridge, MA:  Brookes.

Klinger, J.K., Vaughn, S., & Boardman, A. (2007) Teaching Reading Comprehension to Students with Learning Difficulties. In K.R. Harris & S. Graham (Series Eds.) What Works for Special-Needs Learners. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Kuhn, M.R., & Schwanenflugel, P.J. (Eds.) (2008). Fluency in the Classroom. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Meltzer, L.J., Roditi, B.N., Haynes, D.P., Biddle, K.R., Paster, M., & Taber, S.E. (1996). Strategies for Success: Classroom Teaching Techniques for Students with Learning Problems. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Meltzer, L.J. (2010). Promoting executive function in the classroom. In K.R. Harris & S. Graham (Series Eds.) What Works for Special-Needs Learners. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Minskoff E, Allsop A (2003). Academic success strategies for adolescents with learning disabilities and ADHD. Baltimore, Maryland: Paul Brookes Pub.

Moats, L.C. & Dakin, K.E.  (2007). Basic facts about dyslexia and other reading problems. Baltimore, MD:  The International Dyslexia Association.  (Excellent resource for parents—short)

Moats, L. C.  (2010). Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.  (Excellent resource for teachers)

Moats, LC. (2011). Speech to Print Workbook: Language Exercises for Teachers. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Nadeau KG. (1994). Survival guide for college students with ADD or LD. New York: Imagination Press.     
Although this book is focused on the college level, it provides excellent learning strategies that can be applied to high school. The emphasis on building self-advocacy skills is a reminder to begin training youth with ADHD on such skills. This book is an easy read for adolescents.

Phenix, J. (1996). The Spelling Teacher's Book of Lists. Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers.

Phenix, J. & Scott-Dunne, D.  (1994).  Spelling for parents. Markham, ON, Canada:  Pembroke Publishers.

Shaywitz, S.E. (2003).  Overcoming Dyslexia.  New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. (Excellent resource for parents)

Tridas, E.Q. (2007) From ABC to ADHD: What parents should know about dyslexia and attention problems.  Baltimore, MD:  The International Dyslexia Association.  (Excellent resource for parents—long)

Practice and Instructional Guides

Kamil, M.L., Borman, G.D., Dole, J., Kral, C.C., Salinger, T., & Torgesen, J. (2008). Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices: A Practice Guide (NCEE #2008-4027). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/practiceguides/adlit_pg_082608.pdf

Graham, S., & Hebert, M. (2010). Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing can Improve Reading. A Carnegie Corporation Time to Act Report. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved from http://www.all4ed.org/events/WritingToRead

Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools—A Report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved from http://www.all4ed.org/publication_material/reports/writing_next

National Research Council. (2012). Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research. In A. M. Lesgold & M. Welch-Ross (Eds.), Committee on Learning Sciences: Foundations and Applications to Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Washington, DC: Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13242

Torgesen et al., (2007). Academic Literacy Instruction for Adolescents: A Guidance Document from the Center on Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction. Retrieved from http://www.schoolsmovingup.net/cs/smu/view/rs/6328

What Works Clearinghouse. (2010). Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade.  Retrieved from Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/ practiceguide.aspx?sid=14