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
“August Pullman, 10 year old boy with a genetic facial deformity, starts school for the first time in his life at Beecher Prep Middle School. Auggie must learn to cope with how others see him, even though he feels like an ordinary boy. He is a bright, witty child, and after he has a chance to be himself; others eventually grow to love him. Auggie and his new friends discover that there will always be bad people in the world, but hopefully, the good will always outweigh the bad. This is a wonderful read for everyone!”
Recommeneded by: Kimberly Anderson, West Indianapolis Branch Library
Auggie is ten and has never been to school. His Mom teaches him at home. For fifth grade Auggie’s Mom and Dad decide it would be a good idea for him to try school. He’s never been to school AT ALL so he’s going to start in Middle School. What do you think? Would you want to do that?
Auggie isn’t sure what he thinks about school because he’s never been there. He knows he wants one thing though, friends…and school is where the other kids are. Auggie just wants to be a regular kid.
I think the only person in the world who realizes how ordinary I am is me.
My name is August, by the way. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. (page 1)
The reason Auggie hasn’t been to school yet is because he has had 27 surgeries since he was born. He has an extreme facial abnormality. He did survive, and now he’s strong enough to not just survive; he’s strong enough to live, to grow, to learn and to go to school. But he still doesn’t look like other kids. In Middle School, kids worry if their shoes aren’t like the other kids’ shoes. Auggie’s got something different that is a lot different, and he can’t do a thing to change it.
Wonder is a “so truthful it hurts” story about an ordinary kid in an ordinary family in an ordinary school…living an extraordinary life. Life can be difficult and confusing and messy and make you cry, even while it is being wonderful. I loved getting to know Auggie and his family, especially his sister Via. I really liked that the point of view of the chapters change so that you hear from Auggie, as well as his sister and some of the kids at his new school. This is important because this isn’t just Auggie’s story, it is their story too. It takes them all to get the story right. Author: R.J. Palacio
Slate: Wonder is the Best Kids’ Book of the Year. Slate talks to R.J. Palacio about bullying and empathy. (Empathy is when you are aware of and sensitive to the feelings of other people.) It is a great article for kids and parents both.
Every Kid Needs a Hero Blog Post by Peter’s Mother. Peter has a craniofacial syndrome like Auggie’s. Here is a message for readers of Wonder from Peter himself:
If you liked reading Auggie’s story and understand what it feels like to want to be just another kid in the crowd but feel stuck being known for something about yourself you didn’t choose and can’t change, try one of these. And if you identify more with Via, Auggie’s sister, try Rules.
Some kids get nicknames in junior high. Some of those nicknames are even cool. But Reggie McNight’s nickname isn’t cool at all and it is a daily reminder of a very embarrassing event. His nickname? Pukey.
All Reggie wants now is to be invisible, operating under the radar…at least until everyone forgets about “the event.”
How is it then, that Reggie ends up running for class president? Why is he willing to put himself under the scrutiny of his peers again? After volunteering his time at a local homeless shelter, Reggie discovers he cares about something more than restoring his image. He cares enough to step out of the shadows, after all, “eighth grade isn’t all there is to life.” Here here. Pukey for President! #Stand4Peace Author: Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich
Bobby and Holly have been friends since forever. They know boys and girls aren’t usually best friends and they know their friends at school wouldn’t understand, so they have a strategy they call “The Parting Place”. They walk to school together everyday, but when they get to “The Parting Place” about a block from their school, Bobby speeds up and Holly slows down…just so they won’t be seen together. It works.
But then the week before fourth grade starts, Bobby starts to notice some weird things about Holly. She starts caring about her hair and misses a traditional rock hunting afternoon with Bobby because she’s going shopping with Jillian. On the first day of school their friendship hits a definite bump in the road:
“Hey Bobby, wait up!” Holly was running to catch up to him.
Bobby stared at her in disbelief. “Why are you wearing that? It’s not Halloween.”
Holly smoothed the sleeve of her light blue dress. The big white bow around the waist reminded him of toilet paper. “It’s new,” She said proudly, “Do you like it?”
Bobby shook his head. “Nope.”
Oh, man. NOT smooth. And it’s downhill from there! When Bobby and Holly are both nominated to run against each other in their class election for Student Council Representative an all out boys vs girls war begins. What’s the best strategy when your arch rival knows your weaknesses and all your secrets? Game on! #Stand4Peace Author: Lisa Yee
Bobby isn’t the only boy mystified by girls. Alvin Ho is allergic to them! Holly isn’t the only girl mystified by boys. Here are some more funny books that showcase the battle between boys and girls, + another Bobby book, Bobby the Brave (Sometimes).
Juliet and Lowell are best friends. Well, until this year, when Lowell started hanging out with Mike, Tommy & Bruce doing things they are sure a girly girl won’t like. Juliet is so mad at Lowell – her FORMER best friend. She finds some kindred spirits in Patsy, Annette, & Linda. The other girls are none too happy about being labelled scaredy-cat sissies either who only have tea parties and won’t get dirty.
The kids get in a verbal war over just what “girl stuff” and “boy stuff” is. The boys are sure that “girl stuff” means painting fingernails, NOT go-carts. The girls think they can paint anything, including go-carts.
Juliet: “We ride bikes and we play baseball and we run just as fast as boys do.”
Patsy: “You don’t know what you’re talking about! Girls can do anything boys can do! At least I can!” (page 59)
The kids agree on a nine day contest, boys versus girls. Each day is a different challenge and whichever side wins the most challenges wins the contest. As the days go by the challenges get harder and harder; the kids daring each other to push themselves to the edge of their abilities…and their courage. Author: Ellen Wittlinger
Here are some more books about battles between boys and girls. This Means War takes place in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis…a time when two countries, the U.S. and Russia, were locked in a similar battle of wills. Countdown is about kids during this time too – also a very good story.