Beverly Cleary has been a presence in children’s literature since her first book, Henry Huggins, was published in 1950, more than 65 years ago! Although her last book, Ramona’s World, was published in 1999, 17 years ago, long before any of her current readers like you were born, she has continued to inspire generations of us to fall in love with Ramona, Henry Huggins, and Ralph S. Mouse. Beverly is 100 years old today!
During her long career, she has been honored with a Newbery Medal (Dear Mr. Henshaw, 1984), 2 Newbery honors (Ramona and Her Father, 1978; Ramona Quimby, Age 8, 1982), the National Book Award (Ramona and Her Mother, 1981), among many accolades, and was recognized with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal (1975) for “a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”
March is Indiana Disability Awareness Month organized by the Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities. The Indiana Disability Awareness website has a lot of information including a free awareness kit and a recommended reading list for children.
Listed below are some selections from your own IndyPL Children’s Librarians of their favorite titles that feature characters with disabilities.
Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.Wonder by RJ Palacio~Barb Obergfell, Outreach Services
Nine-year-old Lila, born with xeroderma pigmentosum, a skin disease that make her sensitive to sunlight, makes secret plans to feel the sun’s rays on her tenth birthday. And so, she plays at night with her friends – who might or might not be real.Cool Moonlight by Angela JohnsonBarb Obergfell, Outreach Services
Spider, a baby abandoned on an English farm, grows up to be mentally slower than other children but manifests a remarkable talent for communicating with animals as he comes of age during World War II, a slower child whose quiet, calm, kind nature is a gift to everyone.Spider Sparrow by Dick King-Smith~Barb Obergfell, Outreach Services
Wonderful! Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and meets there Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben’s story is told in words; Rose’s in pictures.Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick~Erin Moehring, Southport Branch Library and Janet Spaulding, Selection Services
Fifth-grader Cally Louise Fisher stops talking, partly because her father and brother never speak of her mother who died a year earlier, but visions of her mother, friendships with a homeless man and a disabled boy, and a huge dog ensure that she still communicates.A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean~Janet Spaulding, Selection Services
For the older boys and girls I highly recommend Sharon Draper’s Out Of My Mind( jFIC). It’s also a Young Hoosier Book – very well written and thought provoking. It’s about a young girl who’s body is deformed (wheelchair bound), she can’t speak and her body spasms uncontrollably at the most inopportune times. She is very bright and knows the answers to the questions teachers ask, but has no way to express her knowledge. Everyone, except her family thinks she is retarded or dumb. How frustrating that must be. Finally with the help of a special computer she is able to communicate. I couldn’t wait to read what happened next!Out of My Mind by Sharon DraperConsidered by many to be mentally disabled, a brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2012-2013, 6-8 Nominee.~Linda Tegmeyer, Brightwood Branch Library
I recommend:The Kaleidoscope Kid by Elaine LarsonPresents a collection of poems pointing out the variety of intellectual strengths and personality traits possessed by children with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism.~Joseph Fox, Wayne Branch Library
Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, twins Alex and Conner leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.
“The book is really good and pulls you in from the prologue! You just want to keep reading and reading to find out what happens next!”