A graphic depicting the challenges of dyslexia

This Man Learned to Read at 18… and Published a Groundbreaking Book!

He’s a doctor, an author, a philanthropist. But when Dr. Shawn Anthony Robinson was eighteen years old, he didn’t know how to read… and no one had bothered to figure out why.


Dr. Robinson after graduating

Image Via Nbc15.com


This might contradict the image so many of us hold in regards to authors: a childhood surrounded by overstuffed bookshelves, notebooks full of opening lines. But this image ignores factors of class and ability—it’s also not always accurate. As a child, nobody understood that Dr. Robinson had a learning disability; they thought that he was angry. And he was. “The fact that you can’t read, got the anger, you put it all together and you’re like a balloon ready to just pop,” he explains. As a sophomore, Robinson was kicked out of high school. By the time he graduated, he’d learned to read at a third-grade level. The solution to Robinson’s problem was neither accusation nor condemnation. It was identifying the problem: Robinson had dyslexia.


Dyslexia graphic representing the impact on language

Image Via Weareteachers.com


At the start of Robinson’s senior year, he received his diagnosis from Dr. Nash, a researcher in the same field Robinson would one day conduct his own scientific inquiries. Robinson recounts the transformative experience:


From that point on, he taught me just the simple principles of learning to read, the sound structure, in the phonics, morphology… Once I learned to read at 18, I just never stopped loving school. I always tear up, I mean really. I mean if it wasn’t for Dr. Nash, I don’t think I would be sitting in this chair right now.


While pursuing his doctorate, Robinson developed a clear goal: to help those with learning disabilities find professional and academic opportunities. He’s especially interested in helping “African-American boys and people with dyslexia,” those who—like him—are often misidentified as troublemakers. Now a doctor of philosophy and diversity scholar at the University of Michigan, Robinson has added a book to the list of his accomplishments.


Dr. Robinson's 'Doctor Dyslexia Dude'

 Image Via Facebook


When children can read books about people like themselves, it can be quite a powerful (yes, it’s a superhero pun) experience. The black, dyslexic protagonist of Robinson’s novel acts as a role model for the populations he most wants to help. The benefits of the book are as tangible as they are abstract. 20% of the proceeds of Robinson’s book will fund a scholarship with the International Dyslexia Association. The description, along with more information, is available on the book’s official website:


Doctor Dyslexia Dude! is a compelling story of an African-American boy who is also a colorful superhero with dyslexia. The authors will take readers through specific moments when the boy struggles with reading and copes with the embarrassment by totally avoiding it. The net result, the boy’s self-esteem is lowered and causes him to doubt his abilities.



Featured Image Via Yalescientific.org