Book Smart

A comprehensive collection of children's books that relate to ADHD and LD — along with take-away activities for you and your kids.


Filed Under: Learning Disabilities

Book Smart, Part 2

I’m Somebody Too
by Jeanne Gehret (Verbal Images Press, 1992); $16.00
ages: 4–8
topics: understanding ADHD, siblings, hyperactivity/impulsive behavior

Siblings of children with ADHD wonder where they fit in — or if they do at all. I’m Somebody Too revisits the family from Eagle Eyes. Ben’s sister, Emily, compensates for her brother’s unpredictable behavior by striving to be perfect. As Ben gets increased attention after being diagnosed, Emily is left feeling jealous and overlooked — in spite of her perfect behavior. But soon she learns that she doesn’t need to be perfect to be an important part of the family. Readers of this thoughtful book learn that siblings can lend support to ADD children, and be valuable members of the family.

Eddie Enough!
by Debbie Zimmett (Woodbine House, 2001); $14.95
ages: 6–9
topics: school, visiting the doctor, taking medication, hyperactivity/impulsive behavior, teasing

Sometimes a child just needs a successful role model to motivate him. Eddie Minetti is a paradigm for older kids with ADHD. According to his family, he “talks and listens fast,” and he’s always getting in trouble at school — until he’s diagnosed with and treated for ADHD. By the end of the book, Eddie is taking medication, receiving support, and leading a happier, more manageable life. The moral? All is not lost just because you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD.

Zipper: The Kid with ADHD
by Caroline Janover (Woodbine House, 1997); $11.95
ages: 9–12
topics: school, friendship, hyperactivity/impulsive behavior, taking medication

Every child needs a passion, something that really makes him shine. In Zipper: the Kid with ADHD, fifth-grader Zach forges a relationship with a retired jazz musician, who fosters his interest in the drums. When he plays, he forgets his ADHD, and focuses on how amazing he sounds. Playing the drums breeds a new confidence in Zach, and — what do you know? — it carries over into his classroom.

ACTIVITY: What is your child really good at? The violin? Drawing? Basketball? Ask his teacher to set aside time when he can share his talent with the class. Then let the kids ask questions and help him teach a mini-lesson. If he’s an artist, bring art supplies for the kids to use in the lesson. Letting your ADD child excel in front of peers will change the way they see him — and the way he sees himself.

Joey Pigza (series)
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
Joey Pigza Loses Control
What Would Joey Do?
by Jack Gantos (Harpertrophy, 2002); from $4.95
ages: 10 and up
topics: hyperactivity/impulsive behavior, taking medication, school, special education, ADHD in the family, teasing

There are two sides to every story — especially when the stories are about Joey Pigza, a kind, impulsive boy, who often lands knee-deep in trouble. Joey matter-of-factly recounts the sticky situations he finds himself in (like losing a fingernail in the pencil sharpener). Then he lets you in on what he was thinking (“but that’s not what I intended to happen”). I urge parents to read these books before reading them to their children. There are some heavy problems plaguing Joey’s life — divorce, child custody, alcoholism — and you want to be sure your child is ready for them.

ACTIVITY: Arrange a book club meeting at your school or local library, and make these books the focus.

Sparky’s Excellent Misadventures: My A.D.D. Journal
by Phyllis Carpenter and Marti Ford (Magination Press, 2000); $8.95
ages: 5–11
topics: school, understanding ADHD, visiting the doctor, taking medication

This funny, optimistic story is written like a diary. Sparky, a.k.a. Spencer Allen Douglass, uses his journal to write about his life (he takes pills to “fix his wiggles”) and confide his secret thoughts (“I didn’t know the store made pills to fix MY stuff!”). The book brings the reader inside the mind of an ADHD child, as he learns how to cope with his condition.

ACTIVITY: After reading this book, encourage your child to write down how he feels about having ADD. Keeping a journal allows children to sort through their thoughts and feelings without judgment from others. I’ve read, with permission, a few of my students’ private journals and gained a deeper understanding of them through their writing.

Dyslexia and learning disabilities

Taking Dyslexia to School
by Lauren Moynihan (Jayjo Books, 2002); $11.95
ages: 5–9
topics: school, dyslexia/learning disabilities, special education

This book, from the same series as Taking A.D.D. to School, explains what’s going on inside a child with dyslexia. The main character, Matt, is a great role-model for kids. Throughout the story, he explains his difficulties with reading and math, and describes the steps he took to learn about the nature of his learning challenges and to get help at school.

The Don’t-Give-Up Kid and Learning Differences
by Jeanne Gehret (Verbal Images Press, 1996); $9.95
ages: 8–12
topics: school, dyslexia/learning disabilities, role models, teasing

Any child who’s ever felt inadequate about learning will relate to Alex, the don’t-give-up kid. Alex is teased because he can’t read — letters look foreign to him; they jump around the page or appear backwards. But young readers are shown that learning differences have nothing to do with lack of intelligence. Alex begins to work with a specialist, who introduces him to Thomas Edison (who had ADD and dyslexia). Though the inventor failed many times, he never stopped trying — and neither does Alex.

ACTIVITY: Many famous adults overcame physical or mental challenges to achieve success. Take a trip to the library or hop on the Internet with your child and research celebrities, athletes, and historical figures who thrived despite great obstacles (Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo da Vinci — to name a few!).

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