Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability
Shane Burcaw was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a very rare disease that affects his muscle development. As Shane has grown older, his body has grown weaker. He is dependent on a wheelchair to get around and on the help of caretakers for daily life skills, like brushing his teeth. Yet while he lives with these physical differences, Shane has a lot in common with others. He loves pizza, sports, video games and living a very well-rounded life. In this award-winning book, Shane opens up with readers about what his life is like and how his sense of humor helps him survive.
Children's Books About Physical Disabilities
Most parents will teach their children not to stare at people who have physical disabilities. When their kids ask them questions about why someone is in a wheelchair or missing a limb, they are told to be quiet until they can talk about the disabled person somewhere out of earshot. Maybe a better approach is to read children's books about characters with physical disabilities. Also, be sure to read books about wheelchairs that focus on all the ways people can live active, fulfilling lives regardless of their physical differences. Talk to your children about the importance of compassion and inclusion, and teach them to see past physical differences when forming new friendships.
Best Kids' Books About Limb Differences
Kids with physical disabilities have bigger mountains to climb in life. Exciting milestones, like learning how to walk, may never be celebrated. A child with a missing limb not only finds every day activities more difficult, but also witnesses constant stares and whispers by strangers. And children who suffer from progressive neuromuscular disorders have a particularly difficult road ahead as they experience deterioration and loss of physical abilities and strength. Just like kids with facial deformities and scars who may not feel comfortable around their peers, those with malformed limbs also struggle with fitting in. Reading children's books about kids with physical disabilities can help, even if just a little. Most books feature able-bodied children running and playing without any physical challenges. Finding kids books about limb differences will go a long way in validating their own physical form.
What Happened to You?
Joe is so sick and tired of everyone asking him about his missing leg. All he wants to do is play pirates and have fun on the playground like everyone else. He grows frustrated by kids constantly fixating on his limb difference. Fortunately, the other kids finally realize that the game Joe is playing is far more interesting than his physical disability. The author, who had these same experiences growing up, delivers a charming book that emphasizes inclusion and normalization.
When Charley Met Emma
Charley is taken aback by Emma's limb differences. He wants to ask her a million questions and isn't sure how to act around her. When they start a conversation, Charley quickly learns that Emma isn't so different after all. In fact, she's quite amazing and has learned to adapt despite all her limb differences. Kids will love this award-winning book about a very bright, happy girl.
Unicorn Diaries: Bo and the Merbaby
A little mermaid was born with only one fin. Her unicorn friends start off on a quest to seek help for this baby who can't swim on her own. What they learn is an incredibly important lesson about accepting others just as they are without trying to fix them.
Meeting Mimi: A Story About Different Abilities
A story about friendship, diversity and inclusion told from the perspective of Mimi, a little girl who uses a walker. This picture book has a lot of helpful tools for emerging readers, like simple text and a vocabulary list. But even more importantly, it highlights the virtue of accepting everyone for all their unique differences.
Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship
A heartwarming picture book about a dog and a girl who rescue each other. Rescue is a black lab who assumed he would grow up to be a seeing eye dog, as he was being trained to do. When he fails the test and is relegated to becoming a service dog, Rescue feels like a failure. He is paired up with a girl named Jessica, who is also experiencing a setback in her own life. She loses her leg and has to learn how to live again with a prosthetic limb. This beautiful story highlights the loyalty and friendship between two special souls who need each other.
5 Fingers and 10 Toes
An active, healthy, energetic little boy is just like everyone else, except for the fact that he's missing a hand. This delightful picture book about limb differences shows all of the things he can do on the playground and everywhere else he goes. A great book to read to all kids, especially kids who learn to navigate life with a missing limb.
Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
An empowering true-story of a boy from Ghana who was born with a deformed leg. All of his neighbors and peers dismissed him as disabled. But with the unconditional love and support of his mother, Emmanuel shows the world that he can overcome and accomplish more than most able-bodied people. He hopped the two miles to school every single day and played sports. Finally, he went on to cycle 400 miles in bold move proving that disability is not the equivalent of inability.
We're All Wonders
Choose Kind became a nationwide movement as a result of the best-selling book Wonder and major motion picture based on this story. Now there is a picture book version about the importance of really seeing people, beyond physical appearance, facial deformities, and disabilities. This touching book encourages empathy and emphatically addresses the need most children have to belong.
She Persisted in Sports
A highly inspiring picture book about never giving up on your dreams. This wonderful book features female athletes who accomplished amazing things despite enormous obstacles, including physical disabilities. Several Olympians are featured in a book that encourages every reader to aim high, no matter who or what gets in the way.
This inspiring picture book celebrates inclusiveness and diversity. A little boy in a wheelchair and his very best friend in the whole world, a tiny pet dragon, do everything together. And they have a host of other friends who join them for lots of fun play. It's a short and sweet story about the importance of friendship no matter what physical differences exist.
This is a delightful story about a little girl who is fascinated with dinosaurs. When visiting her grandparents' farm, Sophia is thrilled to find real, live dinosaur eggs. This sends her on a quest to find some answers, and along the way to makes a special new friend. Sophia happens to have a prosthetic leg, but this fact is never mentioned. A great example of a story that normalizes limb differences for kids.
A happy-go-lucky little girl enjoys a normal, active life. Susan loves to swim, ride horses, play with friends. She especially loves to learn and does very well in school. She has mood swings, and while she is mostly well-behaved, sometimes she makes mistakes. It is not until the very last page that readers learn Susan uses a wheelchair. A wonderful picture book that decidedly does not focus on a little girl's disability.
I Will Dance
Dancing is an art form that should be enjoyed by everyone. Eva, who has cerebral palsy, isn't able to move like everyone else. Fortunately, she finds a dance studio created for kids who move differently. At this special place, she can finally enjoy all kinds of movement with peers who don't feel inhibited or self-conscious about the way they personally enjoy dancing.
The Roller-Coaster Ride
Vincent has a limb difference, but that does not get in the way of living a fun, active, fulfilling life! In this story, he excitedly heads out with his grandma for a day of adventure. Together they enjoy the amusement park rides right by the beach. Pictures of roller coasters and other fun attractions fill the pages of this book that highlights a full and carefree day at a theme park.
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Picture Books for Kids About Disabled Characters
Every single little kid should read children's books featuring characters with a variety of disabilities, including deafness, blindness, and other physical impairments. For those who are disabled themselves, it's extremely important to see others like them represented in picture books. There are valuable lessons children can learn from the stories told in these books. Even more importantly, books about kids with limb differences feature characters who live full, fun, active lives despite their physical disabilities. For non-disabled kids, reading books about children who are missing limbs or have other disabilities opens conversation about compassion and inclusion.