At Matan, we believe that inclusive storytelling is key to promoting disability-friendly social development. We have put together a collection of ten of our favorite books as an extra special JDAIM prize.
These books send a matter-of-fact message that disability is normal. Some stories address disability explicitly, some show characters with disabilities without explanation, and some depict experiences that many people with disabilities share.
Here’s what’s in the set:
Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Flectcher:
In this book, a young girl whose mother is a wheelchair user tells the story of zooming around together.
DK Braille: Animals
This accessible picture book shows that there is more than one way to read! All of the text is printed in both Braille and standard print, and all of them images can be felt as well as seen.
We’re Amazing 1, 2, 3! by Leslie Kimmelman and Mary Beth Nelson
This book comes from the Sesame Street and Autism project. Developed with input from the autistic community, this booksends the respectful message that it’s okay to be different and that there are a lot of ways to play.
The Princess and the Peanut Allergy by Wendy McClure and Tammie Lyon
A realistic story about discrimination and misunderstanding with a happy ending. A girl with a peanut allergy is almost uninvited to a birthday party because her friend thinks she’s being unreasonable by refusing to eat a peanut cake. Eventually, she realizes that peanuts really are that dangerous and that she can celebrate with a princess cake that is safe for everyone.
The Big Little Sneeze by Katja Reider
A hilarious story about overzealous ‘help.’ When Max sneezes, his friends all want to help make him better — but they don’t stop to listen first! This story can open a conversation about the problem with assuming that people with disabilities need intrusive help, the importance of asking first, and the possibilities created by listening.
Max’s Words by Kate Banks
A young boy collects words the way that others collect coins and stamps. Eventually, Max starts stringing his words into sentences and stories. This is a fairly accurate description of how some people with cognitive and communication disorders experience language.
Rolling Along: The Story of Taylor and His Wheelchair by Jamee Riggio Heelan and Nicola Simmonds
Taylor is excited about getting his first wheelchair because he will be able to move faster and do more by himself. This can help children to learn what wheelchairs are all about without having to make someone else into an object lesson.
The Balancing Girl by Bernice Rabe
This book is out of print but we have included a used copy because we like it so much. In this story, an elementary-aged girl who uses a wheelchair is also a domino-stacking enthusiast. Her dominos end up playing a prominent role in the school fair. This book very unusually takes her inclusion for granted instead of focusing on explaining her presence or her disability.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
We love Red for both adults and children (in fact, it is part of the Matan Institute curriculum). This is a book about being misunderstood in ways that are very common for children with developmental disabilities — and how that changes when you are understood.
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems
Another book we use to teach adults at the Matan Institute. It is a good teaching tool, and can be used to open up a conversation about feelings people might have around access issues, and why it’s important to include people with disabilities in the process of figuring out how to make things work. It is also a hilarious story.
Also in this box: a bonus weighted animal! We’ve included a bean bag sensory toy to help people access stories. (It can also be used to help act out Can I Play Too?).