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“Like stars on earth”: How to engage youth with dyslexia when other educators and parents struggle to understand it

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Based in India, Like stars on earth (2007) is a movie about Ishaan Awashti, an elementary student with dyslexia in an environment where adults do not understand or recognize learning disabilities, and simply consider such children to be “less fortunate.”

Throughout the movie, Ishaan is the victim of much physical, social and verbal bullying by peers, parents, and educators. Things change when a substitute art teacher, who recognizes dyslexia, arrives. For educators, watching this teacher may offer ideas on how to support a student with dyslexia in a traditional school setting.

Additionally, the film juxtaposes Ishaan’s engagement with animals and wonderment about the world against the rules and pressures from formal schooling, the workplace, and the home. The movie progresses to show how social pressures diminish his wonderment, making a point that adults’ well-intended actions and expectations may not always lead to the best outcomes for their children.

This film can be a valuable resource for educators as a discussion piece for understanding the experiences of children with learning disabilities, and expectations in a more traditional environment.