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The Siena School Blog

Discover, Learn, Celebrate, and Empower

Welcome to Siena's blog, your source for helpful, cutting-edge resources tailored to teachers, parents, and other advocates in the learning differences community. We are dedicated to providing a wealth of curated knowledge spanning various topics, ranging from dyslexia advocacy and awareness to classroom teaching strategies, heritage month profiles, and social and emotional health.


Posts Tagged "reading~list"

Siena Summer Reading 2024

June 27, 2024
By Joe Fruscione, Communications, Content, and Advancement Coordinator

Summer reading is important for students’ overall development, so let Siena help your student(s) find some age-appropriate books that are also interesting, relatable, and social–emotionally beneficial. For students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences, summer reading lets them practice their decoding, retention, and fluency skills.

Summer Reading Recommendations for Teens and Tweens

At the end of each school year, Siena teachers share summer reading packets, which include recommendations and class readings for students across all grade levels. Teachers assemble reading lists to share with students, always choosing a variety of books that reflect Siena’s diverse community and curriculum. Here are some of the books Siena’s students will be reading this summer:

Additional Summer Reading Resources

General Resources

Local Resources

Siena Resources

For more information from The Siena School blog, see previous posts about Summer Boredom Busters, successful Summer Academics and Camps, Summer Tech Skills, and Summer Reading 2022.

The Siena School, a national leader in dyslexia education, serves bright, college-bound students with language-based learning differences on campuses in Silver Spring, MD (grades 3-12) and Oakton, VA (grades 3-11). 

Black History Month Spotlight: LeDerick Horne and Marcia Brissett-Bailey

January 26, 2024
By Joe Fruscione, Communications, Content, and Advancement Coordinator

The theme of Black History Month 2024 is African Americans and the Arts. The arts in all their forms have always been instrumental to Black culture. Since art has been one of our core values from the beginning, Siena is highlighting a pair of contemporary Black writers with dyslexia, as well as sharing some reading and other resources to commemorate this important month.

Writer and Poet LeDerick Horne


Poet, speaker, and advocate LeDerick Horne grew up in New Jersey and received an early dyslexia diagnosis (3rd grade). This laid the foundation for his decades of writing, speaking, and advocacy work on behalf of the LD community and Black identity.

Here are some key points in Horne’s career thus far:

  • Horne did foundational work on the governing board of Eye to Eye, a nonprofit mentoring program for LD students. He’s on the advisory board for The National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Determination, and Employment (RAISE), and he’s a member of the governing board for the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education.
  • Horne’s many honors and associations include LDA, Eye to Eye, NAACP, The White House, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as many presentations and media appearances.
  • Horne coauthored Empowering Students with Hidden Disabilities: A Path to Pride and Success with Margo Izzo (2016), a guidebook collecting personal stories and strategies for teachers and families.
  • He has also released two spoken word poetry collections, Black and Blue in 2011 and Rhyme, Reason, and Song in 2005 (both available on Apple Music). Horne has also been profiled on Poets List and in the short documentary Normal Isn’t Real, among many other platforms.

“What is funny—and ironic—for those of us who have learning disabilities is that the challenges that we were chastised for as children end up becoming these extremely valuable tools out here in the marketplace.” (LeDerick Horne)


Writer and Advocate Marcia Brissett-Bailey

Writer, speaker, and dedicated dyslexia and neurodiversity advocate Marcia Brissett-Bailey grew up in London and received her dyslexia diagnosis at age 16. “I no longer felt stupid” upon hearing about her learning difference, she has shared.

Here are some key points in Brissett-Bailey’s career thus far: 

  • She is currently Further Education Partnerships Lead at Diversity and Ability, leading their support and guidance for young people under 18, as well as their parents and caregivers, schools, and colleges.
  • She edited Black, Brilliant and Dyslexic: Neurodivergent Heroes Tell their Stories (2023), a collection of first-person pieces from the Black dyslexic community from an international, intersectional perspective. In her words, “My book takes us on a journey to challenge structural racism and years of trauma on people who are marginalized by different forms of oppression and may only come forward when they feel safe to be their whole selves.”
  • Brissett-Bailey edited a special issue of Contact magazine in October 2021 that highlights the important work of the British Dyslexia Association Cultural Perspective Committee. 
  • Among other places, Brissett-Bailey has been profiled in Forbes, Business Forums International, and British Dyslexia Association, as well as the Move Beyond Words podcast.

“Dyslexia is daily…but I wouldn’t be authentically me without dyslexia as it’s giving me so many advantages…in seeing the world through a creative lens. My high-level thinking, seeing the bigger picture visually, hyper-focus on my interests, seeing patterns others do not see and conceptual thinking.” (Marcia Brissett-Bailey)

Resources for African American Arts and Culture

See Arts Resources from the Smithsonian for a wealth of local events, spotlights, podcast recommendations, museum exhibits, and more commemorating Black History Month.

The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Anacostia has a series of events commemorating Black History Month and the 206th anniversary of Douglass’s birth. Those interested in books by Frederick Douglass can read his three autobiographies (Narrative of the Life, My Bondage and My Freedom, and Life and Times), as well as selected speeches and his only novel, The Heroic Slave.

In addition to the Douglass Historic Site, the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site and Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site in DC are also offering weekly programs and special events this month.

Lastly, some recent fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books by Black authors to look up include:

Fans of the recent Color Purple film can go back and read Alice Walker’s 1982 novel, as well as her foundational works In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens (1982) and Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992).

Siena Resources

The Siena School blog has other heritage month spotlights related to innovative dyslexia education, including Native American book recommendations, Mexican writer and activist Victor Villaseñor, Chicano artist Ignacio Gomez, WNBA stars A’Ja Wilson and Jewell Loyd, NFL star Rashan Gary, and others. Learn more about Siena’s commitments and ongoing initiatives for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

The Siena School proudly serves students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences in grades 3-12 on campuses in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Oakton, Virginia. 

Dyslexia Reading and Podcast Recommendations

October 13, 2023
By Joe Fruscione, Communications, Content, and Advancement Coordinator

As part of Dyslexia Awareness Month 2023, Siena has put together this short guide of books and podcasts that can help families in the LD community navigate their children’s specialized learning and social–emotional needs.

Book Recommendations for Dyslexia Awareness Month

See also Siena’s in-house parent resource library list, The Literacy Nest, National Education Association, and Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity for more reading recommendations.

Podcast Recommendations for Dyslexia Awareness Month

See The Siena School blog for these related resources for LD families: 

Blog Post Recommendations for Dyslexia Awareness Month

See The Siena School blog for these related resources for LD families:

The Siena School proudly serves students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences in grades 3-12 on campuses in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Oakton, Virginia. 

Siena Celebrates Black History Month

March 01, 2021
By Joseph Fruscione, Communications and Advancement Associate

A key element of The Siena School’s mission is teaching students about the world inside and outside their classrooms. This year for Black History Month, Siena continued the work of integrating social and racial justice issues into students’ learning. This work is year-round, but in honor of Black History Month, the students and faculty worked together to celebrate with a number of activities.

Black History Month Activities at Siena

Students and faculty worked together to mark Black History Month at Siena:

  • The Cultural and Activities Committees organized resources and discussion topics and then focused on a different theme each week, such as allyship, addressing past injustices, and influential black athletes, intellectuals, and more. 
  • The Daily Slide for students featured a successful individual, discussion topic, or resource, such as Wilma Rudolph, Stacey Abrams, or ways to address racism and injustice.

  • A school-wide activity encouraged students to build a Black History timeline by moving the historical event to its appropriate year.
  • The Student Council Speaker Series arranged for Professor Adrienne Cain from Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History to talk to the students about oral history, black women and intersectionality, and the continued fight for progress and rights.
  • This year, Siena implemented an Anti-Racism Curriculum, which meets every two weeks. Using the Teaching Tolerance Standards to guide our classes, the Anti-Racism Curriculum consists of group discussions, community projects, and personal reflections on what it means to be a part of an anti-racist community. 

Siena Reading List for Black History Month

Siena faculty and students worked together to create a suggested books reading list (broken down by grade level), including: 

High School

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  • The Mis-Education of the Negro, Carter G. Woodson 
  • Black Boy, Richard Wright
  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
  • Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly
  • “How It Feels To Be Colored Me,” Zora Neale Hurston (essay)
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
  • The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

Middle School

  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • March, John Lewis and Nate Powell (trilogy)
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
  • The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963, Christopher Paul Curtis
  • The Kidnapped Prince, Ann Cameron
  • A Good Kind of Trouble, Lisa Moore Ramée
  • Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  • Genesis Begins Again, Alicia D. Williams
  • Black Women in Science, Kimberly Brown Pellum, PhD


  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
  • Talkin' About Bessie, Nikki Grimes
  • The Sweet Smell of Roses, Angela Johnson
  • The Patchwork Path, Bettye Stroud
  • Henry’s Freedom Box, Ellen Levine & Kadir Nelson
  • The Undefeated, Kwame Alexander & Kadir Nelson
  • Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker, Patricia Hruby Powell & R. Gregory Christie

Consider checking for local BIPOC-owned bookstores near you for these and other titles. Local to Siena, for instance, is Loyalty Bookstores, which has a number of great virtual events, suggested reading lists, themed bundles, and more for readers of all ages. 

Of course, no single month or set of books or curricular activities can encompass the complexity of black history, so Siena students will continue to enhance their awareness of racial justice issues. For more, read about Siena’s anti-racism resources and statement on equity and inclusion

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