10 Books That Teach Kids About Inclusion and Special Needs
How do we teach our kids about diversity and acceptance of people who have special needs? What do we do when children ask questions about the new kid in school who seems ‘different’ to other kids?
Below are 10 books that you could read to your child, in order to help them understand more about special needs, while encouraging kindness and inclusion.
All the books suggested are suitable for kids aged 3 and above.
1. Why Are You Looking At Me?: I Just Have Down Syndrome
by Lisa Tompkins
This book tells the story of a little girl named Lynn, who has Down Syndrome. Lynn talks about how she may look different, but she does all the normal things that other kids do too. She wonders why other people stare at her.
It’s a wonderful book for young learners to understand that we’re much more similar than we are different.
2. Just Because by Rebecca Elliott
Just Because shares the story of a young boy’s older sister, Clemmie, who is his best friend. Through his voice, the reader learns that she can’t walk, talk or move around much. It is a book about disabilities and sibling friendship, written in a sensitive and touching way for young readers.
3. Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
by Laurie Ann Thompson
This picture book tells the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a boy who lives in Ghana, West Africa. Emmanuel was born with one deformed leg, and was often cast aside by others. Despite this, his mother encouraged him to go for his dreams.
Emmanuel ended up cycling nearly 400 miles across Ghana with his one leg, showing us that disability is not inability.
4. Don't Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability by Pat Thomas
Written by a trained psychotherapist and parent, this illustrated book helps children understand more about different kinds of physical disabilities. It looks at and explores the questions kids might have about the topic, in a way that is easy to understand.
Don’t Call Me Special includes advice on how to share the book with kids, for teachers and parents.
5. We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
A story that centres around a child named Auggie, who was born with no facial features except one eye. Auggie is mocked by his peers for looking unusual.
We’re All Wonders is a charmingly illustrated book for young readers that touches on diversity and the issue of bullying. It teaches children to choose kindness.
6. Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor
A beautiful picture book about diversity and differences in abilities, written by an American Supreme Court justice. Using her own experience of growing up with diabetes, the author cleverly explains special challenges of varying kids in a child-friendly way.
The author encourages readers to ask questions if they are curious about other kids.
7. Our Friend Mikayla by Kimberley Resh (editor)
A lovely book written and illustrated by the real-life friends and classmates of Mikayla, a young girl with a disability. Our Friend Mikayla is celebrated for how it shows and inspires understanding, friendship and full inclusion.
8. The Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger and Paul DuBois Jacobs
Kids and adults will love this story that shines the light on a man named Lee, a jazzman who has lost his hearing. He eventually goes to a school to learn sign language and starts a band with other deaf musicians, where they perform night after night for people in the subway.
9. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca
Dr. Temple Grandin is an actual famous scientist (look her up!) who was diagnosed with autism as a child. This book tells her true story with fascinating illustrations for young readers.
10. A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
A real-life story about a boy named Alan who has a severe stutter—except when he is talking to animals at the zoo. Alan Rabinowitz, the little boy in the story, grew up to be a respected wildlife conservationist and a voice for endangered animals.
This article has been republished with permission from Kiddy123.