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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.



Women’s History Month Spotlight: Sally Gardner and Laurie Halse Anderson

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

“Women from every background have long realized that an uneven playing field will never bring equality or justice. Many feel the critical need to speak up and work harder for fairness in our institutions and social interactions.” —National Women’s History Alliance


Women Writers with Dyslexia  

The theme of Women’s History Month 2024 is Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Siena celebrates Sally Gardner and Laurie Halse Anderson, two writers with dyslexia whose years of work in the arts have helped tell inclusive stories about diverse topics and characters.

As the National Women’s History Alliance reminds us,

During 2024, we recognize the example of women who are committed to embracing everyone and excluding no one in our common quest for freedom and opportunity. They know that people change with the help of families, teachers, and friends and that young people in particular need to learn the value of hearing from different voices with different points of view as they grow up.

Sally Gardner 

Diagnosed with a learning difference at age 11, Gardner worked for many years in theatre set design and visual arts in her native England. She then pivoted to writing in her mid-40s. Her first book was The Strongest Girl in the World (1999), and her most recent is The Weather Woman (2023). Other notable Gardner books include I, Coriander, The Door That Led to Where, The Double Shadow, and Tinder. Her books include diverse character types and frequently overlap imaginative stories and historical or fairy tale settings.


See Sally Gardner’s website for a full list of her books for young readers. She’s also a participating artist with artist and dyslexia advocate Gil Gershoni’s Dyslexic Dictionary project.

Disobedience is a part of being dyslexic. A refusal to be classified, to adhere to rules without answers. A defiance against mediocrity. To disobey is to believe in the power of imagination to alter situations. To leave those behind who tell you things must be done the same as they were always done. —Sally Gardner

Laurie Halse Anderson


Diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, Anderson received early intervention for reading and speech learning differences in school. To learn more about her background, see this series of short videos about her life and work from Reading Rockets, where Anderson discusses her schooling and use of haiku as her entry point into writing.

Anderson has written many picture books and young adult novels on a variety of historical and contemporary subjects, including censorship, sexual assault, and eating disorders. Her first book was Ndito Runs (1996), and her newest is Rebellion 1776 (forthcoming, October 2024). Other notable Anderson books include Chains, Shout, Speak (adapted into a movie in 2004), and The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School.

See Laurie Halse Anderson's website for a full list of her young adult, historical fiction, and picture books, as well as a list of her many awards and honors. There are also educators’ guides and discussion questions for selected books.

I write about the things that teenagers have to deal with every day. Many of them have to cope with hard things, sadly. When they read books about similar experiences, they feel less alone. Those kids who are lucky enough to have wonderful, trauma-free lives can learn what it’s like to not be so lucky from my books. That helps them develop empathy and compassion.  —Laurie Halse Anderson

Resources and Events for Women’s History Month

Here are some resources and local events commemorating Women’s History Month 2024:

Siena Resources 

The Siena School blog has other Heritage Month spotlights related to innovative dyslexia education, including WNBA stars A’Ja Wilson and Jewell Loyd and Olympian Meryl Davis for past Women’s History Month posts.

See also our blog posts on Native American book recommendations, Mexican writer and activist Victor Villaseñor, Chicano artist Ignacio Gomez, and NFL star Rashan Gary, and others. Learn more about Siena’s commitments and ongoing initiatives for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

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). 

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