Books that show us another side of diversity – our diverse learners

There has been a great deal of chatter on the web about the need for diverse books. All children need to be able to see themselves in the stories they read. It is also so important to read about children and people who are not like us. This is one way we learn how to care for others.

I was so excited when given the opportunity to read three such books. Books that show diversity in many ways.

search-1Armond Goes to a Party: a book about Asperger’s and frienship by Nancy Carlson and Armond Isaak was the first book I read. This wonderful book was co-written by Carlson and Isaak and is a perfect read aloud for young children who are dealing with Asperger’s or who might have a friend with Asperger’s.

Carlson’s large bright images bring the written text to life helping us see just how Armond feels as he steps into the wild and sometimes overwhelming noise of a party. Felicia is the perfect friend who understands the needs of her friends. She helps Armond find a place to take a break when things get a bit to much giving him space to relax and return to the fun when he is ready.

The story does not sugar coat the emotions. It is clear that the party is hard for Armond but good planning on the part of parents and friends makes the event something that everyone can enjoy.

They have also added some notes on the back pages to help parents understand the emotions that children with Asperger’s Syndrome might be feeling. This is a great addition to diverse books.

The People on the Corner by Leslye Orr is another wonderful look at the ways we are different and the same. This story has the neighborhood kids wondering who is moving into the empty house on the block. They notice toys, yeah kids. They notice wheel chairs, must be old people.  “Oh no will they be crabby old people.”  With hot cookies in hand they head over to find out who really moved into the house. search

They are more than surprised to find a family of fourteen. There were children who use wheelchairs, someone who uses a hearing aid, a few who are blind.  There were so many differences but everyone loved to play baseball, climb into the fort and enjoy ice cream and picnics.

This short book shows how differences don’t have to separate us but can help bring us together. The book was published in a spiral bound to make the pages easy to turn and a portion of the proceeds helps benefit the Fraser Center and the Autism shop, both good organizations that support children with diverse needs.

search-2The last of the three is Big Little Brother by Kevin Kling and Chis Monroe. Kling explores what happens when one really wants a little brother but the little brother is not exactly what you were expecting. Little brothers take things, are afraid of things and need a lot of attention. We all know that but this little brother grows and grows until he is the same size or maybe a bit bigger that our main character, who is 4 years of age. We didn’t expect that.

It is hard when someone your size but much younger plays with your things, follow you everywhere but there is an upside to this size thing as well. Little brother comes to the rescue when a bully at pre school tries to take over the Thanksgiving game and big brother finds it is great to have a big little brother to play with.

The images are bold and colorful helping us see the every day struggles in life with a little brother.

Diversity comes in different sizes, colors and abilities. Through great books we can see how much we are alike and begin to understand how our differences can help us be friends.  Take time to read a few diverse books this week.

Thanks to Upstream Arts for sharing these wonderful books with me.

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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