There’s a world of difference to explore in these books for your summer reading list

Understood
4 min readJun 30, 2021

By Fred Poses

It has been quite a year. The pandemic changed the way we operated and lived in so many ways. Many of us were living in close quarters with our immediate families. For some, that resulted in heightened awareness of how our kids learn. In fact, an Understood study found that 72 percent of parents noticed learning challenges or differences in their children. If your work environment changed because of COVID, you might have even started to notice some of your own challenges, like having trouble paying attention or processing information.

Maybe you’d like to better understand what it means to have a learning and thinking difference like dyslexia or ADHD. After all, there are 70 million people in the U.S. who learn and think differently — that’s 1 in 5 individuals. If you learn and think differently yourself, perhaps you’re curious about neurodiversity and the broad range of brain-based, invisible differences.

As many of us look forward to summer with family or friends, below are some books I recommend to help kids and adults explore the world of learning and thinking differences. If we all chose to read even just one of these books, I believe we would take a meaningful step forward in shaping more inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities. After all, more awareness leads to the potential of building a world where everyone — regardless of how they think — can thrive.

For adults

The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever — And What to Do About It | By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

The tumult of the pandemic has caused many kids to start acting out in new ways. For parents who may be feeling overwhelmed, this book offers clues to understanding why some kids struggle with self-control and what to do about it.

Divergent Mind: Living in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You | By Jenara Nerenberg

Differences like ADHD and autism are frequently overlooked in women. Author and entrepreneur Jenara Nerenberg was initially surprised by her later-in-life diagnoses. She dove into the research and compiled stories from other women to develop this long-overdue book.

Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up | By Ellen Braaten and Brian Willoughby

Many kids struggle with slow processing speed, a thinking difference that often co-occurs with ADHD. Understood expert Ellen Braaten and co-author Brian Willoughby explain why some bright kids might have difficulty in this area, and offer practical tips for how to help them.

The End of Average: Unlocking Our Potential by Embracing What Makes Us Different | By Todd Rose

This empowering manifesto uses the new science of the individual to reveal the remarkable fact that no one is average. Learn to understand your true uniqueness, which may have been hidden by a school system or workplace that prioritizes conformity over the power of difference.

For kids

Fish in a Tree | By Lynda Mullaly Hunt

In this New York Times bestseller, Ally tries to hide her inability to read by creating clever disruptions at school. With the help of a supportive teacher, she comes to see her dyslexia as a strength. Ally’s confidence begins to grow as she learns that great minds don’t always think alike.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Series #1) | By Rick Riordan

For kids who enjoy Greek mythology and fantasy, this fast-paced series is a lot of fun. Percy Jackson keeps getting in trouble at school because of his ADHD and dyslexia, so he’s sent to boarding school — where he learns that his differences make him just the hero the world needs to prevent a war between the gods.

Nelson Beats the Odds | By Ronnie Sidney II

This graphic novel features a boy who initially keeps his ADHD and learning disability a secret. With the encouragement of supportive adults, he learns to push the boundaries and discover his potential. The dynamic illustrations are a great feature for many kids who learn and think differently.

Attention, Girls! A Guide to Learn All About Your ADHD | By Patricia O. Quinn

ADHD is equally common in boys and girls, but girls are diagnosed less often. This practical guide for tweens is filled with strategies and tips to help learn all about ADHD, get organized, pay attention, make and keep friends, understand medication, and more.

Fred Poses is the co-founder, president, and CEO of Understood. Previously, Fred served for 15 years as Chairman of the Board at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). He has served as a trustee at the Riverview School, a private school for children with complex language and learning challenges in New England, since 2016.

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