By Rick Riordan
My 16-year-old son Haley recently came into my office and announced that he’d finished a 600-page manuscript. I suppose that would be unusual coming from any 16-year-old, but given my son’s background, it’s especially stunning.
Haley is ADHD and dyslexic. At 7, he hated school. He would hide under the dining-room table to avoid reading or doing his homework. My novels about Percy Jackson began as bedtime stories for him — a father’s desperate attempt to keep his son interested in reading. That’s also why I made Percy Jackson ADHD and dyslexic, and made those two conditions indicators of Olympian blood.
Over the past nine years, so much has changed. Percy Jackson became a five-book series. Haley took his own hero’s journey from reluctant reader to an avid devourer of books. Now, as I launch a new series, The Heroes of Olympus, that returns to Percy Jackson’s world, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on what I’ve learned about getting ADHD/dyslexic kids to read. I can’t promise that every child with learning differences will become a novelist, but I do think all children can become lifelong readers. Below are four essential things I’ve learned as a dad and a classroom teacher:
Take it from this dad. It seems like just yesterday my son was hiding under the table to avoid reading. Now he’s writing books longer than mine!
For more on The Heroes of Olympus, go here.
This essay first appeared at WSJ.com/Speakeasy. Reprinted with permission.
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