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Pure Friendship for Individuals with Special Needs
Lorna d'Entremont

Six Children's Books on Diversity and Acceptance of Self and Others

Have a child, grandchild or student who is not coping well because he feels different from his friends and classmates? So often children feel they are “different” than their peers. Whether it is a perception or a reality that one doesn’t fit in, it can be a painful experience. These children must be listened to and supported and discussing the following books would be very helpful. Are you working with children and would like a resource to help them understand the hurt they cause when they tease or shun another because of a physical difference, a personality difference, or a disability? Sometimes children are not accepted and ignored because of their clothes, their accent, their personal interests,and other things way out of their control like having a sibling who is different. The bullies must also be helped and understanding children with special needs or who are different in any way is the first step to acceptance. We suggest teachers, librarians, day care staff, and parents read and discuss with children the following six books reviewed and recommended by Special Needs Book Review.

1. Noah and Logan Series of Children’s Books on Social and Life Skills

Noah And Logan Series By Benjamin K.M. Kellogg Series of books for ages 2 – 5 and grades P-1 that teach social and life skills like friendships, sharing, cleaning up, concepts of colors, time, and schedules. Benjamin Kellogg is on the autism spectrum and he hopes his books will help children develop the skills which were difficult for him to master. In an interview the author explained that because of his unique perspective, he struggled with developing social and life skills. Cleaning his room and sharing with others along with many other skills were very challenging for him. With help and much love from his parents and family and the support of some great therapists, teachers, and friends, he eventually learned. Theresa Kellogg, Benjamin’s mother, illustrates each story based on his ideas because he has fine motor problems making it difficult for him to draw. Read the complete review.

2. Mizz Goodie 2 Shoez In “Shoe-Autism”

Mizz Goodie 2 Shoez In Shoe-Autism By Charoletta Anderson The unique, bold and colorful characters of the Mizz Goodie 2 Shoez series demonstrate a wide range of emotion and conversation and the story narrative is engaging and educational.  These children’s books with playful high fashion shoe characters uplift the spirit of children with autism and cancer. The author uses her love of fashion and shoes and creates a fun new way to teach children values, hope, courage, and the importance of honor and self-esteem.  Reading a book together it gives a child that one on one personal connection with the story line and characters especially as it may relate to their own life and diagnosis. Read the complete review.

3. We’re Not So Different After All

We’re Not So Different After All By Lissette Lent This playful story of love and acceptance features the likeness of Lissette Lent’s own daughter, Maggie Hope, diagnosed with Trisomy 8 Mosaicism syndrome. It is told from the perspective of Maggie’s brother, Noah. He discovers that similarities they share really outweigh all of the sometimes scary and confusing differences. It serves as a useful tool for parents and educators looking to talk to young children about disabilities. The author wrote, “Most parents would agree that it’s important to teach our kids to be aware and unafraid of people who look or behave differently, and how to treat those people with the same kindness and compassion they do everyone else,” Although written at a level for young children between the ages of 2 and 10, everyone can learn and enjoy the valuable message that this book delivers. Read the complete review. 

4. Rainbow of Friendship

Rainbow of Friendship By Joni Klein-Higger Rainbow of Friendship is a fun, rhyming picture book that addresses diversity and acceptance of others and ourselves. It helps children learn at a very early age about the diverse mix of people we find in all our cities, towns, and communities. It’s a wonderful story in rhyme form with colorful illustrations that support the story. This children’s book not only helps children discover the joy of friendship but also the rainbow colors, shapes and sizes. They will learn that having friends from all walks of life and from different cultures enriches their own lives. We live in a diverse world filled with unique individuals, each offering his or her own special gifts. The characters in this book are a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. This aspect of the book is meant to be used as a teaching tool to educate the youngest readers about basic colors, shapes and sizes in a fun way. But for older readers, the colors, shapes and sizes represent individuality, how important it is to not be afraid of people who are different than we are, and the importance of accepting ourselves, as well as accepting others. It received Creative Child Magazine’s 2015 Book of the Year Award in the Kids’ Books Category. Read the complete review.

5. Love for Logan

Love for Logan By Lori DeMonia It is an inspirational children’s book on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) based on actual events and a great sequel to Lori’s first book, Leah’s Voice, about a sibling with autism. In Love for Logan, readers learn a few strategies that can be used to help Leah’s sensory issues like telling her what will happen so she is prepared. For example, knowing in advance about a fire drill can help a child sensitive to loud noises. If family members, teachers, and friends know that SPD is very common in children with autism they will be able to help them cope when sensory issues arise or better still BEFORE these children are overwhelmed. Reading both these books with your children or to students is the perfect way to open up a discussion on children with special needs, accepting differences, respecting and including others and to learn what children with sensory issues or autism must face every day. Read the complete review.

6. Little Lonnie Long Ears

Little Lonnie Long Ears By Mary Jean Kelso Little Lonnie Long Ears is a fully illustrated children’s book for ages 3 to 9.  Illustrator KC Snider brings to life Mary Jean Kelso’s characters and the author’s words help children who feel rejected and alone learn that it’s "OK to be different". It’s about a rabbit with a problem. His ears are longer than all the other bunnies. He cannot hop and play and keep up with the other bunnies. He is upset because he is “different”.  All but one of the bunnies on the farm teases and avoids him because his ears are longer than theirs. The bullies reading this story will realize the hurt they inflict when they tease or do not include children with differences. Read the complete review. 

In Closing:

How can parents, teachers, and other care givers raise a generation of children that are aware and unafraid of people that look and act differently? How can we show children how alike we really all are? A great way is with these delightful picture books of acceptance and understanding of differences. Here is an excerpt of We’re Not So Different After All by Lissette Lent that says it all: Maggie has taught me to not be afraid. We may all look different but we are equally made. It’s okay to be curious, ask questions and smile. You can even offer your help every once in a while. So, mommies and daddies it’s all up to you. Please talk to your kids so they understand too. When meeting new people, be friendly, be kind! Chances are, a new friend you will find! We’re not so different after all!

WRITTEN ON November 13, 2015 BY:

Lorna d'Entremont

Lorna d’Entremont has a Master of Education and has taught thirty years in French elementary classrooms in Nova Scotia. When she retired from teaching, she joined her daughter as co-owner of SentioLife Solutions,Ltd. the makers of the sensory, oral-motor tools SentioChews and KidCompanions Chewelry. She blogs about issues that concern parents of children with special needs and also writes reviews for their Special Needs Book Review site. She is a wife, mom of three, and grandmother of five granddaughters.