Fish In A Tree: A Book Review

Hi everyone! Happy Memorial Day weekend! I hope you're out enjoying this unofficial start to Summer with family and friends. Hopefully you have a chance to take a minute to thank the amazing work our armed forces have done past, present and future for our country's defense, including giving the ultimate sacrifice. We here at Adventures In Literacy Land are eternally grateful for their service.

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Take a minute to read the quote below and reflect. When you read this quote by Albert Einstein, what do you think of? Do you think of a particular student, your own child, or even yourself?

We as teachers have all had students who struggle in our classes. We go home thinking about them at night. We think about them as we drive to work in the morning. How can we help them succeed?

Now think of the students who struggle and try to hide it. They act out. They don't participate. They refuse to do work. They've been called lazy, stupid, inattentive, careless, defiant.  How do we dig deep enough to find out what is REALLY going on? What is really at the heart of the problem? Are there adults in the lives in these children who truly care enough to look beyond all those negative behaviors to find out what that is and help them?

As you stop to think about those answers, I invite you to read Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt this Summer.

It's a chapter book (intermediate fiction) about Ally, a young girl with dyslexia. Ally struggles to learn to read and write, but she also has amazing talents. Watch a book trailer here.

I started reading Fish In A Tree with an online group of Orton Gillingham teachers. We see and work with children regularly and can greatly identify with the main character, Ally. She is a child who has moved multiple times, struggles to maintain friendships, and sadly winds up in trouble for not complying with daily assignments which involve reading and writing. “I wish I had my Sketchbook of Impossible Things. It’s the only thing that makes me feel like I’m not a waste of space," Ally says.

Her dyslexia has largely gone unnoticed by her teachers, which makes reading the first few chapters uncomfortable to read. You know Ally struggles and you wish you could scream it out to every adult who misunderstands her. Then, Mr. Daniels, a long-term substitute teacher comes along. If any of you have read Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco, Mr. Daniels has a lot in common with him. You'll find a great deal of similarities in both characters.

Without spoiling this book for you, I invite you to pick up your own copy and even read it to your class. I'd recommend it for grades 4 and up. You'll begin to really feel what it is like to be dyslexic. Since dyslexia is still very misunderstood, this book offers a fresh perspective. As I read it, I began to think about the children I'd had in my classroom or have worked with 1:1. If we can begin to understand what it is like to be dyslexic, we will develop an empathetic heart and mind. Out of that, we begin to see the changes that need to take place to help struggling readers to succeed. Take this journey into Fish In A Tree this summer. You won't regret it!

Here are a few helpful posts and links:
  1. Fish In A Tree book discussion guide.
  2. Dyslexia Simulation (This is a post I wrote back in September.)
  3. Shedding Light On Dyslexia
  4. My Dyslexia Support Collaborative Pinterest board. (It's chock full of ideas. I'd love for you to follow me!)
*If you are an Orton-Gillingham trained teacher who'd like to join my private FB group, please email me at I'd love to have you become a member!

Thank you for visiting Literacy Land today. Feel free to post any questions or comments below. 


  1. I just finished this book, too. It's one of the choices for the 2015 Global Read Aloud and I wanted to check it out in advance. I think many of my fifth graders will be able to relate to it. I'm excited to share it with them!

  2. I have got to read this book! Adding this to my summer reading list. Thanks for such an informative book review, Emily. :-) Lauren