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10 Children’s Books That Celebrate All Kinds of Kids and Their Abilities

We encourage you to read these 10 picture books (and more!) to teach your child about children with all kinds of abilities.

“Children’s Books are engines for empathy. They allow us to see through the eyes of others. By transporting us to other worlds, they help us to understand our own.”

Chris Riddell

We all know the countless benefits of reading to our children (of all abilities) from a young age. It creates a bond between you, the caretaker, and your child. It improves their listening skills, expands their vocabulary, fuels creativity and can teach valuable life lessons. But did you know reading to our children can increase their empathy and understanding of their own world as well?

Each day, our children interact with people of all kinds of abilities. And while some of those abilities may look just like theirs, others may not be so familiar. Reading books with characters who have different abilities helps our children to better learn about and understand others, and to build empathy and respect. It offers the chance to look beyond a person’s disability and see who they are inside. And it also allows children who have a disability to see themselves reflected in the book.

Below, we’ve created a list of 10 picture books with children who have different abilities we encourage you to read to your children. This includes children with autism, Down Syndrome, children who may be missing a limb or are in a wheelchair, are dyslexic and more.

You can search for any of these titles through the Bucks County Free Library’s online catalog system or if you’d like, support one of the local bookstores we’ve listed below:

  • The Next Chapter Bookstore – 205 N Main Street, Sellersville
  • Commonplace Reader – 49 S Main Street, Yardley,
  • Doylestown Bookshop – 16 S Main Street, Doylestown
  • Fairless Hills Barnes & Noble – 210 Commerce Boulevard, Fairless Hills
  • Farley’s Bookshop – 44 S Main Street, New Hope
  • Central Books – 35 W State Street, Doylestown
  • The Lahaska Bookshop – Peddler’s Village Store, 162 Carousel Ln & Rte 263 A, Lahaska
  • Newtown Bookshop – 2835 S Eagle Rd, Newtown
  • Friendly Bookstore – 300 W Broad Street, Quakertown

Different is Awesome

A little boy brings his older brother, born with one hand, for show-and-tell. The students ask him all sorts of questions about how he does things with one hand and realize that he can do anything they can do, he just does it differently. Along the way, they notice that we’re all different in one way or another, leading to the realization that not only are differences a similarity we all share, but, they are what make us unique – AND AWESOME!

Don’t Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability

This delightful picture book explores questions and concerns about kids of all abilities in a simple and reassuring way. Younger children can find out what a disability is, and learn how people deal with their disabilities to live happy and full lives. And even though children with different abilities may sometimes look different on the outside, inside they are just like you.

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges – and looks at the special powers and abilities those kids have as well. 

My Brain Is Magic: A Sensory-Seeking Celebration

Is your brain magic? Animals represent the many modes of a child’s active, “magic” brain in this lively portrayal of a sensory-seeking child written by a clinical educator. “Sometimes my brain is a bee,/ buzzing around the room,” declares a bespectacled protagonist, portrayed with brown skin. Other times, “my brain is a sloth,” communicating to “slowly put on my socks and shoes. And slowly walk to the door.” This sensory-seeking celebration shines a light on neurodiversity and sensory processing in a fun and action-packed way for all children to enjoy.

My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy

Award-winning author and designer Shaila Abdullah teams up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah to bring you this heartwarming tale of a little girl who forms a close bond with a child with cerebral palsy. The girl finds that through her art, she can reach her friend Suhana.

Super Hearing

Super Hearing is a celebration of life for kids with hearing aids, here to educate and encourage acceptance in every form. A kind and inclusive story, this book combines a child’s first-person experience living with hearing aids, with beautiful illustrations to connect kids of all hearing ranges and abilities.

Tom’s Special Talent

Tom isn’t sure if he has any talents at all when he sees how good his friends are at writing and reading. But a school competition soon helps him to find his own very special talent ! Children with Dyslexia or a learning difficulty often find school a daunting and sometimes terrifying daily task. In an environment where certain skills, like writing and reading, are praised and highlighted more than others, it is important for children to recognize that everyone has a ‘special talent’ of their own. It encourages other children to be mindful of the differences that exist between their friends and classmates and to be aware that all children, regardless of their talents, learn differently.

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome

Answering the question Why is Sam different?, this heartwarming story tells of the challenges of living with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. This firsthand view of the life of an undiagnosed child presents behaviors and characteristics that are common among children with this disorder. Sam doesn’t like his pancakes to touch, his sister is annoyed with his repetitive song, and his new coat hurts his skin, but once he is diagnosed, teamwork-based support helps Sam’s life become a little easier. With endearing illustrations, the book includes 10 helpful tips geared toward children, showing them how to respect and accept differences as well as to interact with a classmate or friend with Asperger Syndrome.

We’re All Wonders

Over 15 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and have joined the movement to Choose Kind. Now younger readers can meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy. We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.

What’s Cool About Braille Code School?

Gracie Benedith-Cane wrote What’s Cool About Braille Code School? in honor of her son Wani, who is legally blind. In the book, she explains to readers what it’s like to navigate the world with vision impairments and teaches about the importance of Braille. Braille Code School is cool because Kelly, Charlie and Bobby attend this wonderful place where they are learning, adapting and creatively growing in their blind/visually impaired world. They are happy, loving friends who care for one another while overcoming their challenges. They all have their own special gifts which they are ready to share with anyone and everyone who is willing to embrace them. The Braille Code School teaches pride and independence to those who want it and is willing to give it with those who need it. (Note that this book is not written in Braille).

Feature Photo By Christine Wolkin

Editor for Bucks County Parent. Email tips to christine@familyfocus.org.