By: Karyn Voels Malesevic, Au.D., CCC-A
Many of us have struggled to find the right words when talking to our kids. Knowing how much to say, or how little, or what type of words to use can be a challenge.
Enter the power of a good book!
Sitting down and reading a book about a character that may have the same disability as your child can be a great way to start the conversation. Sharing stories is also a great way to help siblings and classmates understand and appreciate differences, or to help your child(ren) prepare for a big transition or difficult news. A good book helps finding the right words much easier.
We’ve complied a list of ten great children’s books to help confront tough issues.
To view our complete list of book recommendations for parents, caregivers and children, follow us on Goodreads.
- Rolling Along with Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Cindy Meyers- In this story baby bear uses a wheelchair, goes to physical therapy, and ultimately makes friends with Goldilocks. The story unfolds many of the familiar scenes of the classic tale ending on a hopeful note.
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio- August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity preventing him from going to a mainstream school that is until now. He’s about to start 5th grade and being the new kid can be hard. Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
- We’ll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve- Bodeen- Six-year-old Emma is gladly waiting for the birth of her new baby brother or sister. She imagines all of the things they can do together. They’ll go to Grandpa’s farm to feed the calves, ride in the back of the mini-van making faces at the cars that go by, fly on airplanes, and someday, they’ll even go to Africa on a safari.
- Kids Talk about Bullying by Carrie Finn- People make fun of me for wearing glasses. What should I do? Super Sam the problem solver will give you some strong advice on bullies.
- The Way I Act by Steve Metzger- This vividly illustrated story is a fun way to show children how their actions may affect others. This book explores a variety of attitudes and traits, like compassion and bravery. Children will instantly recognize and identify scenarios such as meeting new kids, romping on the playground, and finishing a puzzle. Each scene illustrates proper ways to act and encourages readers to do the right thing.
- Rolling Along: The Story of Taylor and His Wheelchair by Jamee Heelan- Taylor and Tyler are twin brothers and best friends. But the twins are different in one significant way: Taylor has cerebral palsy, while Tyler does not. Taylor explains to readers why wheelchairs allow many people to be more independent. This triumphant story offers a valuable look at both adjusting to a wheelchair and facing physical limitations with boundless energy and determination.
- No, David! by David Shannon- When author David Shannon was five years old, he wrote a semi-autobiographical story of a little kid who broke all his mother’s rules. He chewed with his mouth open (and full of food), he jumped on the furniture, and he broke his mother’s vase! As a result, all David ever heard his mother say was “No, David!” Here is his story.
- Nobody Knew What to Do: A Story about Bullying by Becky Ray McCain- This story tells how one child found the courage to tell a teacher about Ray, who was being picked on and bullied by other kids in school.
- Sara’s Secret by Suzanne Wanous- This author skillfully manages to go beyond the message to the heart of Sara’s guilt and embarrassment. Sara and Justin are more than stiff cardboard characters, and their humanity poignantly validates the feelings of children who have disabled siblings. Haas’ fluid, striking watercolors convey Sara’s emotions with an intensity that is well matched to the text.
- Let’s Talk about It: Extraordinary Friends: Let’s Talk About It by Fred Rogers- How do you get to know someone in a wheelchair? Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. In his characteristically wise and gentle way, Rogers challenges the stereotypes that often plague children with special needs and celebrates six children who are extraordinary friends.
There are many great books out there, too many to list here!
Click this link to take you to our virtual bookshelves. Here you will find the entire list of our recommendations, all available to check out in person at our Parent Resource Library. Your local library should have many of these as well.
Another extensive list of books can be found HERE.
If you find your family confronted with a serious issue or unexpected change that impacts your child, it’s important to prepare yourself before having a difficult conversation. Here are some resources to help guide your first steps in talking about illness, death, divorce or autism:
- Helping children when a family member has cancer HERE.
- Helping your child deal with death HERE.
- An age by age guide for talking with kids about divorce HERE.
- Telling your child that they have autism HERE.
It often helps to connect with a professional who can answer questions and recommend an approach.
To connect with a social worker or parent liaison at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley visit: http://www.easterseals.com/dfv/explore-resources/for-caregivers/family-services.html
Learn more about how Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley is supporting literacy for children with special needs, check out our latest course offering in partnership with Dr. Jan Wasowicz and SPELL-Links.
Building the Brain for Literacy: Prerequisites for Successful Spelling & Reading A Multi-Linguistic, Prescriptive Assessment and Speech to Print Instruction