Emmanuel’s mom helped Emmanuel be strong and believe in himself even though he only had one leg. As an adult, Emmanuel rode 400 miles across his country of Ghana to spread the message that disability is not an inability. This is an inspiring true story that is a film calledEmmanuel’s Gift. Thanks so much for promoting more books that are diverse.
But good things can happen when we’re brave enough to carry on—and maybe even to share our stories with others. Uuganaa Ramsay grew up in Mongolia as a member of a pastoral population who are referred to as “Mongols.” When her newborn is diagnosed with Down syndrome, Ramsay confronts prejudice within her community. Although her son didn’t live long, Ramsay experienced a personal transformation as she developed the strength to stand up to bigotry and become a champion of love and tolerance. The Down syndrome community is full of diverse stories. These books offer glimpses into the lives of just a handful of the members of this vibrant community. Hampton lets readers experience, through her eyes, the first year of life for her daughter, Nella, who has Down syndrome.
Fortunately, she finds two “aunts” who help Bee find her inner strength and show her the meaning of love. 6-year old Ivan wants to be accepted by his classmates even though he looks and moves differently than them. I haven’t seen this book in person but it looks like a solid choice for building empathy for differences.
Sharing a book with a child opens the doors to great discussions on topics that would be difficult to approach any other way. The following inclusive kids books feature characters with autism, Down syndrome, limb differences, blindness, deafness, stuttered speech, and more. Beyond teaching about each condition, all of these books that teach children about Down syndrome showcase the importance of empathy and inclusion—one of the most important lessons of all. When looking to create a richly diverse and inclusive bookshelf for our kids, many parents begin by making sure there are a wide range of ethnicities and gender identities represented—but don’t stop there!
Are you a teacher or a parent looking for a resource to help foster understanding and acceptance of children with disabilities? Books are a wonderful tool for parents to use to teach their children about the world around them and the many different children they might meet in their neighborhood, school, or community. Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco is a well known picture book about a girl with dyslexia. Trisha struggles with reading and writing, and desperately wants to learn. Her difficulties are compounded by taunts she endures from other children.
Other than that, the boy is just another dog-loving kid who’s working out his worries about the first day of school. As children with disabilities have integrated more fully into classrooms and other public spaces, so too they have received fuller representation within the pages of books. And yet, in all these stories, the kids have tremendous intellectual ability, even when their disability prevents adults and other children from being aware of it. It is as if their physical disability or neurodivergence is mediated by the presence of intellectual acuity.
Good children’s books find ways to convey the complexity – and simplicity – of Down syndrome, and they bring home the humanity of us all. I’ve personally enjoyed reading children’s books about Down syndrome to not only my sons but to my daughter . It’s an easy way for her to understand her extra chromosome as well. Caregivers should take the time to carefully choose children’s books that address a need in their child’s life or a lesson they want them to learn.