Guest Post : www.readbrightly.com
Illustration: Rafael López, "Just Ask!”
Picture Books to Help Kids Understand Physical Disabilities and Differences
by Melissa Taylor
Melissa Taylor, MA, is a teacher, mama, and writer from Colorado. Her goal in childhood was to read every book in the children's section of the library. She loves (in no particular order) children's books, her Kindle, Pinterest, and knitting rectangles. An education expert, she’s written for many publications, including Parenting.com, USA Today Health, and Scholastic Parent and Child. Connect with Melissa on her learning blog, Imagination Soup, or on Pinterest
Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Board for the Special Olympics, told me (years ago in an interview) that when parents don’t talk about physical and intellectual differences, it becomes the elephant in the room, which gets translated for children as a taboo topic. That’s not what any of us wants. Let’s prioritize discussing and educating children about all kinds of physical differences. One way to do this is to read children’s books that show respectful and accurate representation.
by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael López
A group of children works together to plant a garden. Each of the children has a difference that, like the plants, make them special and unique. For example, learn about kids with ADHD, allergies, diabetes, blindness, and other physical and neurological differences. The author asks readers questions such as “How do you use your senses?” to help encourage empathy and understanding.
by Simran Jeet Singh, illustrated by Baljinder Kaur
Unable to walk as a child, Fauja Singh strengthens his legs with farm work, eventually becoming a runner. At age one-hundred, he sets a record as the oldest man to run a marathon.
by Gary Golio, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Willie, a blind boy with a knack for music, loses his mother and sister at a young age. But music helps Willie survive his life’s difficulties. As an adult, he sings and plays guitar around Texas, eventually making a record. His most famous song, “Dark Was the Night,” becomes one of the selections that travels with Voyager 1 on its mission to space.
by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
After a childhood illness, Helen Keller becomes deaf and blind. Scared and frustrated, she misbehaves frequently. A skilled teacher helps Helen learn to speak in sign language and read braille, giving Helen hope and a future that includes higher education and work as an activist.
by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
The inspiring women in this collection of biographies face discrimination and physical challenges, yet they all persist to become successful athletes, overcoming difficulties and fighting their way to success.
by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Compelling storytelling narrates the life of Louis Braille, who was blind from the age of five. He is determined to find a way to read more books, but his options are limited. Through trial and error, he creates the Braille raised-dot reading system that people still use today.
by R.J. Palacio
Auggie is a boy with facial differences. His feelings get hurt when people stop and stare, or point or laugh. When he feels bad, he puts on his helmet and pretends to blast off into space. Doing this helps him remember that he is a wonder, as are all the people in the world.
by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls
Emmanuel hops two miles to school with only one leg, learns to ride a bike, plays soccer, and works to support his family. As an adult, he rides 400 miles across Ghana to show others that disability is not inability. His life exemplifies perseverance and grit.
by Tim Tebow with A.J. Gregory, illustrated by Jane Chapman
In this story by sports legend Tim Tebow, all the animals get a puzzle piece to bring to a party. Unfortunately, nearsighted Bronco can’t find his puzzle piece. As he searches for it, he meets other animals who worry about going to the party because of their physical difficulties. Even still, they all go to the party and have a wonderful time.
by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon
This book is a heartwarming story about the special bond between Jessica and her service dog, Rescue. Rescue feels excited and nervous to help Jessica, who had her legs amputated after the Boston Marathon bombing. Working with her, Rescue finds his purpose by helping Jessica with her everyday tasks.
*Blog Link: www.babybookworms.blogspot.ca