Books about Children with Special Needs: Robert Morris University Books about Children with Special Needs | Robert Morris University

RMU Recommends

Pete

Danny’s Song
by Betty Ann Nadas

This classic picture book tells the story of Danny, an 8 year old boy with a physical disability. The story references some of the challenges that he faces, but focuses on the things he can do. It shows how Danny and his brother and sister are alike. As a native Pittsburgher, I grew up with Betty Ann Nadas, aka Mrs. McFeely, through watching Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood. Danny’s Song is part of the series I am, I can, I will. It teaches sensitivity to others. Although it is a classic, it is still available on book and cassette. It is also on the Accelerated Reader list. Check your local library.

Recommended by: Dr. Vicki Donne

Pete

Moses Goes to a Concert
by Issac Millman

One of a series (Moses Sees a Play, Moses Goes to the Circus, Moses Goes to School), this book tells the story of a group of students who are deaf/hard of hearing going to a concert. They see and meet a percussionist who is also deaf. The drawings illustrate the events of the day and include signs of key ideas. When writing and illustrating this series, Mr. Millman sought input from teachers at a school for the deaf in NY. As a result, this book portrayed the characters who are deaf from a cultural perspective. I loved that it included a deaf role model as well. It closes with the positive message that with hard work, you can be anything that you want to be! Farrar, Straus, & Giroux 2002

Recommended by: Dr. Vicki Donne

Pete

Mama Zooms
by Jane Cowen-Fletcher

The line drawings of this picture book illustrate the adventures a young boy has with his mother in her ‘zooming machine’ or wheelchair. It ends with her tucking him into bed and the boy saying “then mama is just my mama and that’s how I like her best”. I like this picture book because it promotes understanding and acceptance of physical disabilities. Some young children with a disability think that they will not have a disability when they grow up because they have never seen an adult with a disability. This book portrays a mother with a disability as a positive image doing caring, imaginative activities with her son. It is inspired by the author’s sister who uses a wheelchair since being injured in an accident. Scholastic, Inc. 1995

Recommended by: Dr. Vicki Donne

Pete

Out of My Mind
by Sharon Draper

This fiction book is written in first-person narrative, from Melody’s viewpoint. She is a 5th grade girl with cerebral palsy. Melody is very smart, but unable to show it as she is non-verbal. “Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind” until she is introduced to a voice output device. Through some realistic and heart-warming events, we see Melody struggle with her physical difficulties and typical teen challenges. She shows great strength of character which was developed through strong relationships with her family, neighbor, and teachers. In the end Melody realizes that she is no different than any other middle school student, she faces challenges, wants to fit in, and just wants a friend. I absolutely love this book - it will have you laughing, crying, and everything in between. It can be unsettling at times, but thoroughly uplifting as Ms. Draper weaves a story about a young girl finding her voice, both literally (through assistive technology) and figuratively (through advocating for herself). This book illustrates the complexities and challenges of physical inclusion and social inclusion. There is a teacher and student study guide at the author’s website, www.sharondraper.com. Also, this book is on the AR list. Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2010

Recommended by: Dr. Vicki Donne

Pete

Wonderstruck
by Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck is both a narrative (Ben’s story) and a picture book (Roses’s story). Their stories are set in different time periods but are connected through various events. After Ben’s mother dies, he sets off on an adventure to find his father. During different times in Rose’s life, she searches for members of her family. Both find refuge and answers at a museum. Communication is a major theme in the book presentation, narrative, and story lines. Ben was born with a hearing loss in one ear, then lost hearing in his other ear due to being hit by lightning (a little far-fetched). Other aspects of the book (communication, schooling, silent movies, technologies, etc.) are culturally sensitive and accurate. The author sought input from the deaf community. The weaving of story themes was beautifully done in pictures and words. The style of the book held your attention throughout. For teaching ideas and a discussion guide, visit the Teaching with Selznick site (be sure to review the essays) Scholastic Press 2011

Recommended by: Dr. Vicki Donne

Pete

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah: Champion for Ghana’s Disabled
by Leanne Currie-McGhee

Through the life experiences of Yeboah, who was born with a physical disability, the reader learns of the prejudicial views toward and oppressive treatment of individuals with disabilities in Ghana. Yeboah’s mother told him “Don’t let anyone put you down because of your disability”. He took this advice to heart as he hopped miles to school, later walked 150 miles for employment, and then biked 370 miles across Ghana. Yeboah had a desire to advocate for those with disabilities and approached the Challenged Athletes Foundation in CA for support. He told them that if “you take care of me, I am going to take care of thousands more just like me”. Through this organization and political leaders in U.S. and Ghana, he worked to facilitate change in the treatment of individuals with disabilities. The book finishes with a section entitled ‘What You Can Do’ which explains ways that people of any age can help to raise awareness or funds for people with disabilities in Ghana. Readers might also be interested in the documentary of Yeboah’s life, Emmanuel’s Gift. KidHaven

Grades: 4th and up Recommended by: Dr. Vicki Donne

Pete

The Red Pencil
by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Through this first-person verse novel, Amira shares the everyday experiences of her family’s life in a farming village in South Dufar, Sudan. Her sister Leila, was born with a physical disability, and her experiences reflect some of the stereotypes within their culture. The family’s life is forever changed when Janjaweeds attack their village and the family flees to the Kalma refugee camp. A relief worker there gives Amira a red pencil and yellow paper and she begins a voyage to literacy and looking at things in new ways similar to the game her father taught her “What Else is Possible”. This book has won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. (For those interested in using this book in the classroom, an Educator’s Guide is available here.Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Age Range: 9 and up Recommended by: Dr. Vicki Donne

Pete

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin
by Jen Bryant

This beautifully illustrated book is a biography of a native Pennsylvania African American painter. From early childhood, Horace loved to draw. He left school in 8th grade to work and support his family, yet his love of drawing continued. He served in the Army during World War I and continued to draw about his experiences. He was injured in the war and was physically disabled, unable to use his right arm, nevertheless his love of drawing and painting continued and his work can be seen throughout the U.S. today. It has won numerous awards: The Schneider Family Book Award for its depiction of disabilities, Sibert Informational Book Award, Caldecott Honor, and ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Recommended by: Dr. Vicki Donne