Reading Difficulties in Children

Dyslexia is a common term used to describe individuals with reading disabilities.  The term literally means “difficulty reading”, but students may be challenged by reading for different reasons.  It is important to know both how reading is breaking down as well as why.

The most common reasons for reading difficulties include: difficulty hearing individual sounds (phonological awareness), difficulty distinguishing individual letters (visual processing), and difficulties with working memory.

Understand Reading Challenges

  • Misunderstood Minds has an activity that will give you the experience of being dyslexic.  It is an important experience for any parent of a child with reading difficulties. Many parents and teachers share important insights into the best ways to help the child after experiencing these activities.
  • Building Blocks of Reading Proficiency: Reading can be hard for many reasons – but these reasons are predictable.  When a child is struggling with reading, our first goal is to figure out where reading is breaking down.  This chart can help you to understand what reading skills the student has and what skills they are missing.  Interventions should target those missing skills directly.
  • has a page dedicated to articles, resources and video presentations about reading difficulties and reading disabilities.

Reading Interventions and Supports

  • Reading Games: has free online games for elementary school students that target fundamental skills such as phonological awareness.
  • Audiobooks: Students with identified “text-based” disabilities can access free audiobooks through  The site includes text books as well as fiction and non-fiction found on many course syllabi.  All students can access audiobooks through their local library.
  • Activities: The Florida Center for Reading Research has specific resources for students of all grade levels.
  • Apps: Many free and low-cost apps for smart phones can support struggling readers. has a cute video explaining recommended reading apps from Common Sense Media.
  • Books: 
    • The Don’t Give Up Kid by Jeanne Gehret: In this story, Alex is inventing a cookie snatcher, but his lack of reading skills and impatience means that he needs extra help. There are new discussion starters for parents and professionals, and positive solutions are presented to help build a positive image for the learning-disabled child.
    • Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco: This is the story of a young girl who is excited to learn to read, but finds the letters get all jumbled up.  An inspirational teacher works with her to show her that she can – and will – learn to read!

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