10 Books That Celebrate Children of All Abilities

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People often ask me how I help my children celebrate who they are. One of the main ways we do this is a family starts with one of the words in the name of our blog. Cherish. We teach our children to cherish who they are, their unique characteristics, personalities and our own personal family dynamic.

Sometimes this question comes up pertaining to how we celebrate our biracial family. I’d say it’s a valid question and my answer remains the same. We teach them to love every part of their heritage. There is no such thing as not black enough or not white enough. They are enough just as they are. We are enough just as we are so we don’t need to conform to anyone’s opinion or standard of who or what we should be.

We also use this way of thinking in how we interact with people who are different than us. Those differences can range from skin color, religion and even differences in how we were born as people. One of the great ways I help my kids understand this is through books. Books that celebrate children of all abilities and backgrounds help them to understand that no matter our differences, everyone deserves to be seen, heard and respected. 

Recently I was a guest on the Mint Arrow Messages podcast. During our conversation this very topic came up. Corrine asked me how families can bring up diversity more in their homes and raise more open kids. I said even if it’s just diverse books or toys that have characters who look different, that’s a great start. I mentioned some of our favorite books including Colors of Me and I Love My Hair. These two affirm my children for just who they are especially being biracial. But our goal and a goal all families should consider is to be open and inclusive of all types of differences. Today I want to share some books that celebrate children of all abilities.

10 Books That Celebrate Children Of All Abilities 

Susan Laughs

What I love about Susan Laughs is it shares the story of Susan who enjoys playing with her friends, swimming with her dad and working hard in school. All everyday things right? It’s at the very end that we find out Susan is in a wheelchair. What a great way to show that being in a wheelchair may be a difference but her joys are the same joys my kids and probably all kids love. 

My Brother Charlie 

In this book, Charlie’s big sister shares all about the things her brother loves to do. Charlie is autistic but the story focused on how special he is and all the things he can do. I love that this one has a sibling angle. No one knows just how special a sibling with different abilities is than a brother, sister or parents. 

The Deaf Musicians 

As a family we love music. I truly believe music is one of the best ways to connect people from different backgrounds. In this story, a piano player loses his hearing and is let go from his band. But he goes to a school for the deaf and learns how to sign. And guess what? He meets other musicians just like him, forms a band and shares their music with music lovers in the subway system. I like that this book shows resilience, that it’s never too late to learn a new language and that music is truly universal. 

When My Worries Get Too Big 

I love that this book acknowledges that like adults children have worries and deal with anxiety. Often times kids don’t have the words to explain how they are feeling or they have the words but adults don’t understand and therefore don’t listen. This book shows kids ways to relax when their worries get too big. It offers useful tips for parents and teachers too. 

My Friend Isabelle 

Friendships are often formed based on likes people have in common. This story shares the friendship Isabelle and Charlie have including the fact that they both love to draw, eat Cheerios and play. Isabelle has Down’s Syndrome, Charlie does not. Sure it’s a factor in their lives but that does not change who they are, what they love or their friendship. 

Different Is Awesome 

Different Is Awesome is based on the true story of the author Ryan Haack. Ryan’s brother bought him to school for show and tell. It’s not every day a child brings their sibling as their show and tell story but Joey does and it’s one of the best lessons his classmates learns. Ryan was born with one hand. Joey’s classmates have so many questions about how he does things. In the end they learn that he does the same things they do he just does them differently. I love that this is a true story and shares Ryan’s ability and opens up the discussion about the way different bodies handle everyday life. 

Hands and Hearts

Hands and Hearts shares the story of a mother and daughter spending the day at the beach. Frolicking, dancing and enjoying each other’s company. The way they communicate is through American Sign Language. There are signs in the book that children (and adults) can learn. 

Charlotte and the Quiet Place 

What I love about Charlotte and the Quiet Place is how it introduces mindfulness to children. Let’s face it we all could use a quiet place in this busy and often over stimulating world we live in. Charlotte teacher herself mindful breathing techniques and how to be beautiful silence is. As a family we are working on building quiet moments into our day. This book is perfect for that. 

The Alphabet War 

This one is near and dear to my heart. It tells the story of Adam and the alphabet war that started when he entered Kindergarten. It’s a story about dyslexia and how with the right tools and help, Adam soon finds himself reading a book all on his own. This is especially special to me since we recently discovered my oldest daughter is dyslexic. It’s been a bit of a struggle but she’s improving more and more day by day. And truth is, she’s perfect the way she is.

We’re Amazing 1,2,3! A Story About Friendship and Autism 

This one is perfect for younger children. It comes from Sesame Street, which has been a staple in teaching children about differences, compassion and friendship. I watched Sesame Street as a child and when they introduced Julia in 2017, I felt the same pull I did as a child. Julia is the first Sesame Street character with Autism. Having a book we can read that talks about friendship and autism in a young child friendly way is important to us. 

There are many more books I can add to this list. My hope is that you add some of these books to your bookshelf and continue to explore more books that celebrate children of all abilities. It truly is a way to open up your family to being open and allies to others. 

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Also check out: 20 Books Featuring Black Main Characters.

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