Actor, singer, and activist Harry Belafonte has become an advocate for children with reading difficulties in recent years.


Belafonte was born in New York in the late 1920s. He spend part of his early childhood in Jamaica before returning to the US in his teenage years. He struggled through school and eventually dropped out at age 17 to join the navy.

He didn’t learn about dyslexia until adulthood, when he realized there may have been a reason that he struggled so much to read — and not that he was just “thick”!

“It did something. It made me feel I was being misread and created a certain feistiness in me,” Belafonte said in an interview.

That feistiness paid off. He befriended Sydney Poitier and together the two men set about making a name for themselves in New York entertainment. Belafonte’s singing career took off, and later his acting career would follow.

His big hit is a song you may know well… have a listen!

Now age 87, he is still active and full of that feisty attitude that served him so well!


Sarah Forrest is a Literacy Specialist for the Easyread System, and online program for children with reading difficulties, dyslexia, and more.