A good story is a like a gift. It has the rare ability to make us feel as though we
aren’t alone, and that there is someone who shares in our struggles, challenges, and our joys. For a child with special needs, the right book can connect with them, giving them the opportunity to see how anything can be achieved if they believe in themselves.
Here we highlight our top 10 books that tell the stories of people with special needs. While some may be ideal for younger readers, others may offer hope, inspiration, and even a laugh or two for us parents of children with disabilities.
This book is all about diversity and acceptance. Each page depicts images of children with disabilities, ranging from deafness to paralysis, and conveys the message that we are all unique and special individuals with something to share. It is the winner of the iParenting Media Award and the Creative Child Magazine’s 2009 Preferred Choice Award. One of the highlights of this book is its beautiful watercolor illustrations, which makes it ideal for children of all ages.
My Brother Charlie tells the tale of twin siblings, Callie and Charlie, one of whom is autistic. Throughout the book, Callie talks about each of the things she loves and respects about her brother, as well as some of the challenges she faces as his sister. The story is based on Peete’s son, who is also autistic, and features mixed-media illustrations that help to make the story even more endearing and touching.
While there may be plenty of “get ready for baby” books on the market today, We’ll Paint the Octopus Red puts a new spin on the concept. It is the story of Emma, who learns that her new baby brother, Isaac, has Down syndrome. After Emma asks her father what Isaac can’t do, he explains that there probably won’t be anything he cannot do, as long as they are there to give him the help and patience he needs.
This amazing collection of essays explores the unique viewpoint of 45 different siblings, all of whom have a brother or sister with special needs. From ADD to Autism, a variety of disabilities are highlighted through poignant personal accounts of children ranging from four to eighteen years of age.
In this book, Kate, an 8 year old, discovers that she has much more in common with Timmy, a child with special needs, than she thought. This book is ideal for children with or without special needs, as it stresses the importance of acceptance and understanding, while Kate’s mother serves as an example for behaviors that should be modeled by both kids and adults alike.
My Brother Sammy is Special tells the story of Sammy, who is autistic. His older brother is frustrated that he is “special”, and wishes that he had a brother who was more “normal”. Then Sammy’s brother comes to the realization that Sammy looks at him as the “special brother”, which prompts him to start looking at things from Sammy’s perspective.
A great book for teens or young adults who have special needs, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time features a main character who is a Sherlock fanatic. He also happens to be autistic. Throughout the story, he sets out to solve the local mystery, all while dealing with challenges and struggles that offer the reader an opportunity to put themselves inside the shoes of a teen with special needs.
This handbook offers a humorous and heartfelt glimpse into the life of a teen with Asperger’s syndrome, written by someone who has Asperger’s and has taught “Asperkids”. It features advice and illustrations that serve as a guide to the unspoken social rules that people with Asperger’s and other disabilities find confusing, and is a great reference for both young adults and parents of children with special needs.
The Chicken Soup for the Soul series is well known for its moving stories (a box of tissues should come with every book). Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids On the Spectrum includes 101 touching and inspirational stories from experts and parents of children with autism or Asperger’s. It will make you laugh, shed a tear or two, and offer a good dose of positivity if you’re running on short supply.
This book is the story of Kristine Barnett and her son, Jake, who was diagnosed with autism. Doctors told her that he would never have a “normal” life, and that he “shouldn’t even bother” to try to do things every “normal” child does. Kristine didn’t listen, and The Spark: A mother’s story of nurturing genius recounts how her determination, love, and perseverance helped her son to become a Quantum Physics researcher at Indiana University.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect bedtime story or a book to give you a boost when parenthood throws you a curveball, these books about people with special needs are definitely worth adding to your home library.
Did we leave out your favorite book about disabilities or special needs? Let us know!