A picture is worth a thousand words. This saying is perhaps one of the most well-known proverbs. It has iterations in many different languages, and for good reason. A picture, and certainly a film, can convey the complexity and the multi-dimensional aspects of human issues in a more gripping way than words alone can manage. In the never-ending quest to raise dyslexia awareness, it is important to use a variety of media. Books are full of accurate information about dyslexia. Social media has an excellent ability to reach large numbers of people and even go viral. But, film is uniquely positioned to help people truly relate to the feelings of those who live with dyslexia. Using films to raise dyslexia awareness may be among our best tools for building compassion.
Despite the efforts of dyslexia practitioners and organizations such as Understood.org, there are a number of stubborn dyslexia myths that persist. From allegations that dyslexia doesn’t exist or is a result of a student not working hard enough, to the belief that dyslexia is a vision problem that can be cured. These myths continue to cause harm to individuals with the neurological difference of dyslexia. Our work spreading dyslexia awareness is far from complete.
These Films are Excellent Resources for Spreading Dyslexia Facts and Awareness:
This film began as a very personal journey for the filmmaker. When his own son was diagnosed with dyslexia, he saw first-hand the struggle to get a diagnosis, and appropriate assistance, and the ways in which his son was continually blamed for not trying hard enough. And from this experience, this film was born.
This documentary combines interviews with parents, students, teachers, and researchers. It is a valuable and important tool for understanding the barriers that are interfering with our ability to have a smooth efficient system for identifying and remediating this most common of learning disabilities. (Available to stream online or on DVD.)
This 2012 Sundance Festival Selection intersperses the journey of a high school senior pursuing admission to college with interviews and stories from children, experts, and dyslexia leaders. This film addresses common myths, the stigmas that people with dyslexia face, and some of the positive sides of dyslexia. Some of the most successful people with dyslexia share their stories of overcoming difficulty.
See the movie that inspired a grassroots effort to improve the lives of students with dyslexia. It sparked a wave of policy and educational initiatives. (Available to stream through Prime Video or direct from the filmmakers.)
Not only is this film heartfelt and informative, but it is also very entertaining. Harvey Hubbell V, the award-winning filmmaker, leads us on his journey as a child with dyslexia before dyslexia was a household word. Using the unique lens of his filmmaking, we journey from inside an MRI machine to the jungles of Costa Rica, speak with students, families, famous people with dyslexia, and top researchers.
This film will help families get the help their child needs but also help them find humor in their unique learning differences. (Available as a DVD direct from the filmmaker and may be available on some streaming platforms)
HBO Documentaries and Oscar-winning filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond take us inside the brain of the dyslexic learner. We explore the brain differences that accompany dyslexia learn about the realities and debunk the myths associated with the most common and most misunderstood learning difference. They visit innovative schools and programs that are successfully teaching students with dyslexia to navigate their world. (Available through Prime Video, YouTube, and on DVD)
This 2020 film is a bit different than the others. Laws are in place, the knowledge of how to teach learners with dyslexia is out there, and yet too many children are floundering without the appropriate intervention. A group of parents in Ohio got angry, then they got together. They took on the system and they created change.
This grassroots, crowdfunded documentary is a roadmap for parents and advocates who want to do the same in their own communities. Support materials are available and an online course is in the works. (Available to stream here and on YouTube.)
If documentaries aren’t your cup of tea, how about drama? This moving Bollywood hit has been brought to American audiences by Disney. While a fictional account, the story is an all too realistic look inside the heartbreak and pain that misunderstood children with dyslexia face. In Hindi with English subtitles, this film is long at 160+ minutes, but worth the watch. (Available to stream on Netflix and on YouTube).
This brand new documentary comes to us from filmmaker, Jenny MacKenzie and it’s executive produced by Levar Burton. They pose the current reading crisis as the greatest civil rights issue of our time. The Right to Read is currently screening across the nation. You can view a schedule of the upcoming screenings here, and if you don’t see your city, you can request a screening here.
Hopeville’s director, Harvey Hubbell V, grew up with dyslexia and struggled to learn to read. He knows he is not alone. In this film, he seeks out scientists, educators, and parents to find out what the evidence is showing. He learns that by using the right teaching methods, we can drastically change the course of literacy in America. This isn’t just a movie, it’s a movement. This film is currently in limited release, you can check the schedule of upcoming screenings, here.
Looking for support in spreading dyslexia awareness? Grab these FREE Dyslexia Awareness Month resources.
BONUS FILM! Rescued by Ruby is on Netflix.
Many of these films have resources available to spark conversation. To raise dyslexia awareness in your community, consider hosting a screening (or a virtual screening) and discussion. This would make a great early-release professional development opportunity for schools or an outreach opportunity for dyslexia tutors to help educate their communities.
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