When children are young, it is difficult for them to understand the differences that they observe in their friends and classmates. At some point, they will likely ask you why someone looks or acts differently than they do. As a parent, guardian, or educator, it is essential to teach children early that everyone’s differences are something to celebrate and what makes us unique. This is especially true when they have a classmate with a physical or mental disability. Teaching your child kindness and acceptance towards others with disabilities is just like any other duty that you have as a parent. Fortunately, there are books available that offer a colorful story featuring star characters with disabilities who are still just as relatable to everyone else.
Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis
This 1999 Nasen Special Educational Needs Book award-winning story follows Susan, your typical adventurous child. Through a series of rhymes, you quickly learn that Susan loves to laugh and play. At the end of the book, the author reveals that Susan can live her childhood to the fullest – despite facing the challenges of using a wheelchair. This book is an excellent representation of children who have physical limitations but still like the same activities as those who do not.
Andy and His Yellow Frisbee by Mary Thompson
Mary Thompson tells the story of a young boy named Andy, who is living with Autism. He becomes friends with a young girl during recess after she takes the initiative to introduce herself. The author chooses to address a third-person point of view through Andy’s sister as the narrator. This book provides an outlook on Autism and friendship that everyone can understand and appreciate.
When My Worries Get Too Big by Kari Dunn Buron
This book takes an interactive and engaging approach to teach children about ADHD and anxiety. It is a common diagnosis in children that many can struggle with finding coping mechanisms. It is helpful for children with anxiety or ADHD to know that they are not alone with this disability and that their feelings can be anticipated and diluted.
Dan and Diesel by Charlotte Hudson
A story of a boy and his best friend, this book depicts the adventures of Dan and his trusty companion Diesel the dog. They face a series of events, some more taunting than others, without fear or peril. The ending reveals that all along, Dan is blind. Diesel is not only his best friend, but he is also Dan’s seeing-eye dog. It is an encouraging story of adventures that are not hindered by Dan’s physical limitations.
These children’s books, along with many others, are a great example of how a child’s disability is only as limiting as they let it be. People with disabilities are still just as human as anyone else. Children who learn this early on can open themselves to friendships and kindness in return.