It’s my turn again for the Storytime blog and I have been hording books for a while now to do one about the cornicopia of books that are now available about differences. There are now a wealth of books for kids to help them understand other children who are different from them in some way and a few of the ones I’m going to be sharing today include books about autism, sign language, Asperger syndrome, and more so there are a lot of books in this post.
What the Jackdaw Saw by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Nick Sharratt
You might remember seeing this book recently in Beth’s Baby Sign Language post. I thought it was worth talking about again here as it’s a lovely book about sign language. It does use UK sign language but it’s a good introduction to the topic all the same and the book was written with deaf children as part of a workshop that Julia Donaldson did with the Life & Deaf Association.
Gus the Asparagus by Kaylene Hobson and Ann-Marie Finn
Gus is the only asparagus in the Green family. Gus is just starting school and find that there are lots of different kids at is school – pineapple, tomatoes, capsicums, and he finds school difficult for a number of reasons. His mother is worried about him and takes him to the doctor where they find out he had ‘Asparagus Syndrome’. I assume there is some groaning going on at this point, maybe a couple of chuckles, but this book is actually really sweet. And the message about understanding what is different about other people so that you know what you can do to help them is a good one as the book ends.
How I Learn: A Kid’s Guide to Learning Disabilities by Brenda S. Miles and Colleen A. Patterson
This one is for children who are a little older but I felt it was still important to put it here because children who come to Storytime are headed to school and lots of children struggle because feel that they aren’t as smart in some areas as other kids. Part of this is that not all children learn in the same manner. There are whole units of study dedicated to how difference children learn and in the recesses of my brain I still hold a lot of that information. However, this book is about the message that all children are good at some things and struggle with others. And that is true even for kids who seem to just do well at everything at school because even those kids run into things that they just don’t get.
Autistic Planet by Jennifer Elder
This book presents us with a planet that might be different or perfect depending on how you look at it. It is an autistic planet full of people who are always punctual, and who can memorise songs just by hearing them, and who like to do the same thing again and again and again. And I think this is one of the best books in here because it is very simple and straightforward for the youngest of children. I think this book would be especially powerful for children with autistic siblings to better understand another perspective.
Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap: NT is OK! by Clay Morton & Gail Morton
My last book looks at things from the other side. Johnny is different – sometimes he acts very strangely. This is because he is NT or neurotypical. This is a very fancy way of saying that he doesn’t have autism so his brain works differently to the book’s speaker (who obviously has autism). This means that Johnny isn’t perfectly punctual, he doesn’t memorise things in the same way, and he functions well at school. But the overarching message is that it’s okay that he doesn’t flap when he gets excited or any of the other things that our ‘normal’ book speaker does. This book is great because it is told from another perspective and I think that is important for all children.
The Colourful Life! Same But Different by Naomi Kissiedu-Green
This book is written by a West Australian about a small boy entering school for the first time and coming into contact with people who look differently to him. As he says at the beginning of the book: “I am a child of mixed heritage.” and this causes the ‘conflict’ of the book. This book puts a local spin on something that most children think about – how they look different to other people.
Because, the overall message for all of the books here is that NORMAL is only normal for you – everyone else is different.
I don’t really have a Rhyme or Craft for this topic but I would love for you to share one if you know it. Instead I would encourage you to talk to children about differences, both physical, emotional, and otherwise. The more awareness children have about topics like this the more likely they are to be accepting and understanding when they experience them.