“When I see you through my eyes, I think that we are different. When I see you through my heart, I know we are the same”.Doe Zantamanta
It is so important to teach our students to see with their heart. Reading books with characters who have different abilities helps our students to do this. It helps them to build empathy and respect. It gives the chance to look beyond a person’s disability and see who they are inside. And it also allows children who have a disability to see themselves reflected in the book.
This book list features 16 picture books with children who have different abilities. This includes children with autism and Down’s Syndrome and children who are in a wheelchair, are dyslexic or have a learning disability of some kind.
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47 Strings : Tessa’s Special Code by Becky Carey
A children’s picture book about the remarkable lessons to be learned from a little girl named Tessa, who was born with Down syndrome. This book describes, in easy-to-understand language and with sensitivity, some of the challenges baby Tessa’s special ‘code’ might bring — while never losing focus on the message that a family’s love is the same for everyone.
The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco
Describes how a teacher named Miss Chew encouraged individuality, and accepted learning differences, and helped a young student with academic difficulties get extra time to take tests and permission to be in advanced art classes. Inspired by the author’s memories of her art teacher.
Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari
Moose loves helping his girl, Zara, and Zara loves having her dog Moose help her. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at school, and Moose’s escape acts from his house, his crate, and the backyard aren’t helping his cause. How can Zara get her lovable pooch a free pass to the classroom?
How to build a hug : Temple Grandin and her amazing squeeze machine by Amy Guglielmo
As a young girl, Temple Grandin loved folding paper kites, making obstacle courses, and building lean-tos. But she really didn’t like hugs. Temple wanted to be held–but to her, hugs felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world; like a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne, coming at her all at once. Would she ever get to enjoy the comfort of a hug? Then one day, Temple had an idea. If she couldn’t receive a hug, she would make one…she would build a hug machine!
Just ask! –be different, be brave, be you by Sonia Sotomayor
This book is about 12 friends who have different abilities from diabetes, Down Syndrome, autism, blindness, tourette’s syndrome and deafness. It shows how each of these children can work together and use their different abilities to create something wonderful.
Uniquely wired : a book about autism and its gifts by Julia Cook
Zak has autism, so he sometimes responds to the world around him in unconventional ways. As he describes his point of view, young readers gain a better understanding of his behaviors and learn valuable lessons about patience, tolerance, and understanding.
Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson
Oliver is a little puzzle piece who is excited to find out where he fits. Will he be… in the mane of a unicorn? On the tentacle of a pirate squid? Part of a beautiful sunset or a fiery volcano? A member of a monster rock band? But when he goes in search of his perfect place, Oliver discovers that finding where he belongs is harder than he thought.