Category Archives: Diversity – Disabilties

Stories about people who have ‘disabilities’.

Rescue and Jessica, A Life-Changing Friendship











Rescue and Jessica, A Life-Changing Friendship
by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon
Candlewick Press, 2018

Jessica, the hero in the story, writes of her and her service dog’s journey together.

In the opening scene, Rescue learns he is not meant to be a Seeing Eye dog, but he would be great as a service dog.  He’s disappointed. Meanwhile Jessica has her left leg amputated, which changes her whole life.  Rescue learns all the commands to be a service dog and Jessica learns to walk with a prosthetic leg. When Jessica decides to get a service dog, Rescue graduates from training and they get each other.  Love at first sight, they do everything together.

Readers follow both Jessica, as she learns to cope with her new disability, and Rescue, as he learns to help others.

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Six Dots, A Story of Young Louis Braille












Six Dots, A Story of Young Louis Braille
by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Alfred A. Knopf, 2017
Winner of a Schneider Family Book Award!

Children will love young Louis who is bright and eager for life.  But then Louis’ world turns dark when he becomes blind.  Still eager for life, he learns to walk with a cane, whistle to hear if something is in his path and read letters made of leather, nails or straw.  Dominoes, with dots he can feel, becomes a favorite game.  Louis wants to learn and is frustrated when he cannot learn to read like everyone else.  He finds a way to attend the Royal School for the Blind in Paris.  When he finally gets to read, the books are large, clunky and few, for all the letters are raised on the page.  About that time a French army captain invented a code that can be read by touch, not by sight. Using a pattern of dots for sounds, Louis learns to read through this method.  When Louis was about 12 he decided he could make his own reading system and worked for 3 years, primarily by himself, to create what is now the Braille system.  He changed the world, for the blind.

The story is fascinating, the illustrations beautifully show Louis’ excitement, eagerness, and earnestness for learning. An inspiring story with more history about Louis and his Braille system included in the back matter.

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A Family is a Family is a Family













A Family is a Family is a Family

by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng
Groundwood Books, 2016

In a classroom setting, a teacher asks students what they thought made their family special.  One girl turned red and worried that her family was not like the others. Then one by one, each child shares what their family is like and, of course, some are giant, some are gay, some are deep, some are multi-racial, some have disabilities, etc.  She was finally able to share that she has a foster mom.  A gentle, safe exploration of how so many families are different.  Charming, educational, sweet, without the slightest hint that the reader is ‘learning’.  Lovely book.

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The Sound of All Things











The Sound of All Things

by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Ted Papoulas
Peachtree Publishers, 2016

We get a glimpse into the world of the deaf, when a son shares how he feels and what he thinks when he’s with his deaf father who is always asking him, “What did you hear?”  When the boy says, “Loud,” his father wants more, so the boy says, “Heavy.  Like Thunder.”  Eventually a librarian shows the boy a book of poetry and the boy finds more words to describe sound.  The book begins to bring awareness of how different a deaf person’s world is when sound is missing.  The story features the love shared among family members, expanding one’s vocabulary, and the stillness of life for the deaf.  The award-winning author is the son of two deaf parents.

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All My Stripes, A Story of Children with Autism

StripesAll My Stripes, A Story of Children with Autism
by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
Magination Press, 2015

An empowering story about Zach who learns to feel proud of all his many different stripes, including the one about autism that makes him ‘different’ from everyone else.

The story shows Zach in situations typical for many children with Autism:  he feels unable to talk to others, even when he has something to say; he has strong reactions to loud sounds; he has reactions to paint on his hooves (fingers).  His mother points out all the good qualities (other stripes) and Zach understands his Autism is just one part of him.

The illustrations by Jennifer Zivoin do an excellent job of highlighting Zach’s emotions.  They welcome and empower the reader.   It was the illustrations that initially attracted me to the book.

I recommend this book for all children.  The afterwards cites one out of every 68 children is born with autism.  The book will help those without autism to understand and accept the differences in others.

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Emmanuel’s Dream, The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

Emmanuel’s Dream
The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
by Laurie Ann Thompson & Sean Qualls
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015

This story shows how a boy born with one leg, destined for poverty, can change the world.

His mother names him Emmanuel, meaning “God is with us” and carries him to school, where people with disabilities are normally not allowed.  When he becomes too heavy, he hops two miles on one leg to get to school.  Resourceful, he shines shoes to earn money.  To make friends at school with those who shun him, he buys a soccer ball and says he’ll share if he can play.  On crutches, he plays soccer and earns his classmate’s respect.  They help him learn to ride a bike with one leg.  At age 12, his mom becomes ill and Emmanuel leaves for the city to earn money.  No one wants to hire him, until one shopkeeper gives him a chance and a place to live.

To change people’s attitudes toward people with disabilities, he dreams of riding a bike across his country and filming his journey.  Resourcefully he gets funding for the bike, camera, and taxi to follow him.  On the trip he wears a t-shirt with the words, The Pozo, or “the disabled person.” He travels across his country, Ghana, talking to the poor and the wealthy, demonstrating and educating them that people with disabilities are ‘able-bodied’, too.  He soon becomes a national hero.

This well-told story and illustrations show the poverty and circumstances where everything is against Emmanuel, but because he believes in himself, he finds success.

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Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village

Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll
The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village
by Sunny Seki
Tuttle Publishing, 2012

There’s magic in this story. While simply told, there’s something in it that stirs the heart and imagination.

Sunny Seki, originally from Japan, and an artist and story teller, gently tells the story of Yuko-Chan, a blind young girl. While many villagers feel sorry for her, she does not. She teases the village leaders who stop reciting scriptures when lights are blown out. ““Wow! You’re handicapped aren’t you,” she joked,” after she had continued reciting the scriptures, because she had memorized them.

As a female and someone with a disability, she was not allowed in school, but when the boys were left alone and made ‘noise’, she redirected them into producing harmony. Yuko-Chan heads out in a snow storm to deliver food and tumbles. She discovers the gourd, shaped like Daruma-san (Father of Zen Buddhism) up-righted itself. She came up with the idea that the villagers could make dolls that always stood upright and sell them to help them through a recent disaster where a volcano had ruined their crops. The dolls sold, and today people come from around the world to purchase them. The village’s success following the disaster started from a single idea from a blind girl.

The book includes text in both English and Japanese.

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Dave the Potter, Artist, Poet, Slave

Dave the Potter, Artist, Poet, Slave
By Laban Carrick Hill, Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Little, Brown and Company 2010

Beautifully illustrated in watercolors and collage, this book takes you back in time. Dave was a rare slave who worked as a potter. Written in a poetic voice, the author helps readers feel the rhythms of throwing clay and spinning a wheel. Little is known of the artist, but from a few remaining pots we know he was able to make large pots, requiring great strength and skill. A bio after the story, shares what little is known, including that when Dave was in his 30’s, he lost his leg. Another slave spun the wheel for him, while Dave did his work. Readers also learn of how African’s influenced today’s art. Very beautifully rendered and inspiring.

Caldecott Medal and Coretta Scott King Award

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