Sunday book review: Dyslexia is my superpower (most of the time)


The book

Dyslexia is my superpower (most of the time) by Margaret Rooke (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017)

Book summary

Dyslexia is my superpower (most of the time) by Margaret Rooke is a best-selling collection of 100 interviews with 8-18 year-olds from around the world.

Rooke’s book is divided into 12 sections: getting diagnosed, achieving my goals, support from school, and so on. Don’t miss the list of “top dyslexic tips” by and for dyslexic children and their teachers.

The book is entirely focused on letting children speak. Using their own words and experiences, these students make helpful suggestions for “honing the creative benefits of dyslexia, enabling them to thrive in school and beyond.”

The problem, they explain, is not just the frustration of learning to read, spell or write, it’s the lack of support and understanding that they need (and not necessarily what we think they need) to get past these difficulties and realize their full potential.

For example, in the chapter, “dyslexia is my superpower,” Elliott explains that for him, dyslexia is a mechanical problem not a thinking problem: “it wasn’t that I was struggling with concepts; just with putting pen to paper. So when I couldn’t write ‘water’ when I was eight or nine, I wrote H2O instead.”

Some remind us that the tactics we adults think are helpful, may not be:

For example, in the section called “working harder,” a 16-year -old says he thinks some children are better off not knowing they are dyslexic. Not because he thinks dyslexia is a bad thing, but because he “was hounded by the special needs department. They were a looming presence, trying to give me spelling books.”

superpower snip


Who’s it for?

  • children of all ages
  • parents/families
  • teachers
  • advocates/experts

Why we love it

Many of us in the dyslexia community are cheering Rooke on as we watch her book get rave reviews and become a best seller. It’s currently ranked #1 for “teaching students with learning difficulties” on Amazon, and for good reason.

This has got to be one of the most comprehensive collections of interviews from dyslexic children around the world.

They tell us how they feel, they describe their strengths and their weaknesses, how they’ve learned to adapt, what works and what doesn’t. Their helpful advice makes this a great tool for:

  • parents and teachers better understand how to support and communicate with  dyslexic children and students
  • dyslexic children to adapt to challenges and recognize/celebrate their strengths, and realize they are not alone

The collection also helps to destigmatize dyslexia. In her wonderful introduction to the book, Rooke says “dyslexia is a collection of attributes” and not an affliction–a truth reflected in the pages of the book.

Still, as I write this, I personally know too many dyslexic children who struggle needlessly with poor self-esteem and bullying at school. I hope this book will be considered as a guide to best practices in education. Taken seriously by educators and policy makers, children can help make schools a place where all children will flourish.

My own daughter taught me this long ago: children are very good at telling you what they need to learn. We need to listen.

Quotable quote

“Many books have been written about dyslexia, but perhaps the biggest experts are the ones whose voices are heard the least. All over the world, adults are making decisions for children with dyslexia: parents, teachers, politicians, education policy-makers…yet the needs and experiences of the young people on the receiving end of all this activity are not always understood.” Margaret Rooke, Introduction, Dyslexia is my superpower (most the time)


Why don’t we listen to the true experts on dyslexia?

Book preview

Creative, Successful, Dyslexic (by Margaret Rooke)

Five things a 12-year-old wants you to know about dyslexia.

Here’s what students with dyslexia want you to know.

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