FEEL GOOD FAVORITES:
BOOKS RELATED TO DISABILITY
by Robin Hurd
I love kids’ books! On any given
trip to the library, you’ll find my oldest sons hanging out looking
at adult-level books about science or architecture or the environment.
Their mom? I’m in the children’s section, picking out MY
favorites to read with the twins and grabbing an occasional “old
friend” of a book just for myself.
Though I love children’s books, I
really don’t like most of the ones specifically about disabilities.
With titles like “My Teacher Uses a Wheelchair”
or “My Dog Buddy”, they focus on the equipment
that people with disabilities use and the help they need from others.
One book about a girl who needs AAC even depicts the SLP as the heroine
who saves the day because the child’s AAC system arrives on the
very day of her mother’s birthday, so she can sing “happy
birthday” to her mom. Corny!
this list of books about disabilities is different. Not one of these
books uses the word “disability”. The fact that these characters
have a disability may totally slip by most readers. But the characters
in these books are creative, fun people that our kids can relate to.
They do things. They have problems. And they solve them.
First on the list is IQ Goes to School
by Mary Ann Fraser. IQ is a mouse who joins a grade school class. It
is really a commentary on inclusion (though you’ll never see that
word anywhere). This is also a great story to share with teachers.
Next comes the series of books about Amos the
Dog by Susan Seligson and Howie Schneider. Amos “is an
old dog” who spends a lot of time on his couch, which he is able
to drive using his paw. (Power wheelchair, anyone?) He has some amazing
adventures camping, going on a boat, and as a stunt man in the circus
(my personal favorite). Amos always narrowly avoids trouble, makes his
owners worried, and ends up saving the day for someone. Josh and Caleb
made the connection between Amos’ couch and their power chairs
before I did. This series, in particular, would be good for older readers
who don’t read at grade level --- no “cutsie” drawings
A personal favorite, since I have a child with sensory
issues and on the autism spectrum is Goldie and the Three Bears
by Diane Stanley. In this re-make of the old story, Goldie has a hard
time finding things she likes. It’s a sensitively handled glimpse
into the life of a child with sensory issues.
Another book that addresses issues faced by kids on
the spectrum is The Rattlesnake Who Went to School
by Craig Strete. In this book, the main character is anxious about the
first day of school, so he turns into a rattlesnake to protect himself.
Sensory integration issues, motor apraxia, and a host of “behaviors”
follow as he tries to sort out the new experience of classroom life.
I Can Hear the Sun, by Patricia Polacco,
comes as close as any of these books to mentioning disabilities. We
know that the child doesn’t do well in school; however, the book
focuses on how he changes the lives of homeless people in an urban park.
Another of her books that is a family favorite is Thunder Cake.
The main character conquers her anxiety with the help of her grandmother.
And of course, there is the Amelia Bedelia
series, children’s literature’s classic literal thinker.
My husband and I have laughed often over these books. I don’t
know if the author realized that there are children who think this way
in real life!
Last but not least is I’m Gonna Like Me:
Letting Off a Little Self Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura
Cornell. The disabilities of the characters in this book are not found
in the text, but in the pictures. The boy is obsessed with fire trucks
and safety. (Were the authors at my house lately?) The girl struggles
with motor skills, sensory issues and friendships. But the main message
of the book is priceless for all of our kids who have differences: accepting
themselves as they are.
I hope that you enjoy reading these books—either
with your kids or even by yourself. Happy reading!
As always, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
with any questions or comments.
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