Princesses Can Have Dyslexia Too, a guest post by Laura Rueckert
It wasn’t until an industry review called the inclusion of a dyslexic princess “welcome, if not unprecedented” that I realized my main character Jiara might be unique in publishing.
Unprecedented—how can that be? Statistics say up to 20% of people have symptoms of dyslexia to some degree. Princess Victoria of Sweden and Princess Beatrice of York both have dyslexia. How could none of the many fictional royals? And that’s not even considering that the trade review’s statement encompasses all disabilities, and not just dyslexia.
My first spark of an idea for A Dragonbird in the Fern was a princess who ends up in an arranged marriage with a teen king despite the fact that neither speaks the other’s language.
Around the time I started drafting, both of my children were diagnosed with dyslexia. After years of struggle and self-doubt, they’d finally get some support. But it also led to surprising questions directed at me: since we lived in Germany, would I stop speaking English to them so they could concentrate on one language—German?
There was no way I wanted to stop speaking my native language with them, but I did research to see if I should. I found that plenty of dyslexic people are multilingual, including two writers I know and a successful colleague working in international business at my day job. I continued speaking English with my kids, and like anyone with dyslexia, they may not have had it easy, but they learned both languages.
Dyslexia was on my mind so much during that time that it made its way into A Dragonbird in the Fern. I didn’t write an issue book; Princess Jiara’s main problem isn’t dyslexia. It’s her violent ghost of a sister, a killer she has to catch, and a husband, country and new culture she doesn’t understand.
Like the industry review said, you don’t see many books about princesses with disabilities. And I’d add specifically that you don’t see many characters with dyslexia.
While I’ve seen some MG book lists with dyslexic characters—Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels are always highly recommended—not many YAs exist. Here are five other YA novels with dyslexic characters I’ve come across. I haven’t read them all yet but hope to soon.
I’d love to see more dyslexic character suggestions in the comments—and if you can prove that trade reviewer wrong with books featuring disabled princesses, please add those too!
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone.
A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Girl, Stolen by April Henry
Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of the car while her stepmom fills a prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what’s happening, the car is being stolen.
Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne and once he finds out that not only does she have pneumonia, but that she’s blind, he really doesn’t know what to do. When his dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes–now there’s a reason to keep her.
How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare?
Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers
Karl, aged seventeen, is hopelessly in love. But the object of his affections, Fiorella, demands proof, and poses him a series of questions regarding his attitude to the many sides of love. But Karl is dyslexic, and convinced that if Fiorella finds out, she will think he is stupid, and unworthy of her, and leave him.
So Karl asks a local writer to help him construct his replies – and an unlikely, but extremely touching, friendship develops between the two men. They both come to learn a great deal about about life from a very different perspective, and when an act of violence shatters their calm, they find their respective appraisal of life shifting in profound ways.
Life at the Speed of Us by Heather Sappenfield
Silence is safe. Fate is not.
When Sovern Briggs survives a car crash, she stops talking to seal in the memory of the final sounds from her mother’s life. As conflict with her father builds and failure in school looms, Sovern seeks relief in a dangerous boyfriend and in speed’s adrenaline edge. These needs collide, leading Sovern to a snowboarding accident that changes her future and perhaps that of our universe.
Meet the author
Laura Rueckert is a card-carrying bookworm who manages projects by day. At night, fueled by European chocolate, she transforms into a writer of young adult science fiction and fantasy novels. Laura grew up in Michigan, USA, but a whirlwind romance after college brought her to Europe. Today, she lives in Germany with her husband, two kids, and one fluffy dog.
About A Dragonbird in the Fern
When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.
Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.
Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.
Publisher: Flux / North Star Editions
Publication Date: 08/03/2021
Age Range: 14+
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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