Five Engaging Books about Special Needs and Inclusion

My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson

This sweet story is about a boy and his friend Isabelle. He talks about how they are different like their height and how fast they run. But he says they also like to play grocery store and dance together.  The story doesn’t mention  that Isabelle has Down Syndrome, but does talk about it after the story. This is a great book to read about inclusion; despite differences, we can still be friends.

Janine. by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

My kiddos all loved this book.  The illustrations are colorful and so much fun. I love Janine before I even read about her. She has wild ponytails and mismatched socks and always a smile on her face! Despite being bullied by her classmates, Janine refuses to change who she is and loves everything about herself. Eventually the other children recognize her kindness, see her amazing self-confidence and realize they want to be friends with Janine.

My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete

Holly and her daughter, Ryan, wrote this book based on their own experiences with RJ, Ryan’s brother who has autism. Twins, Callie and Charlie like many of the same things, yet they are different because Charlie has autism.  Callie talks about both the things she doesn’t like about Charlie’s autism, and the strengths he has because of his autism. I liked that Holly and Ryan included both positive and negative things about autism because it allowed them to explain what autism may be like for someone. Lia especially liked this book and said it touched her heart when Charlie comforted his sister and told her that he loved her.

 “Charlie has autism. But autism doesn’t have Charlie.”

We’ll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

When five year old Emma learns she has a new baby brother she imagines all the things they will do together. They will ride in the car and eat snacks, fly to her favorite Aunts home and get presents, and paint with an octopus at the art festival. But when dad delivers the news that the baby has Down syndrome Emma starts to rethink what they can do together.  As she goes through her list from before she and her dad realize that Isaac will be able to do all of the activities that she had wanted to do before. She asks:

“If Isaac has this Down thing, then what can’t he do? My dad hugged me. He said that as long as we were patient with Isaac, and helped him when he needed it, there probably wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.”

All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer

The pictures in the is book are so fun and my kids loved looking at it. Zane and his mom talk about all his different stripes and talents and what makes him unique. This is a fun book about autism that helps children understand that all of us are different. And different is good. And seriously, Jennifer Zivoin’s artwork made this my kids’ favorite book to reread.

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I am the mom of five beautiful adopted children, three of which have special needs. I love to write about the lessons I've learned while raising my children in order to help others. Join us for some fun, a few tears and lots of laughs.

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