Friday, October 09, 2009

Disabled Kids In Children's Books

As you know, I'm on this year's Schneider Family Book Award Committee.

So I'm keeping my eyes open for books about kids and teens with disabilities, and how those kids and teens are presented in books. Which is how I found this article: Why more children's books should feature disabled kids from the Times Online (UK).

Some sample quotes:

We are at a point where racially motivated attacks are properly recognised and widely reported, yet assaults and bullying directed at a person with a disability is merely perceived as “anti-social behaviour”.

and

the “normalisation” of attitudes towards disability can best begin when children are young. Books and education provide an opportunity to move away from a point-and-stare culture, and can help all children to perceive those with a disability as part of normal, everyday life.

Books and movies are listed; many are from the UK, but there are still good ideas for things to read.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

5 comments:

simmone said...

I tried to post a comment there but failed - a link to Little Willow's list of books about teens facing physical challenges - and to point out my own book Everything Beautiful which features dylan, paraplegic romantic lead ... I thought it was important to write about dylan, the character, not dylan, the disability ... so you know the book is not ABOUT disability but because that's a fact of his life it's in there ... if that makes sense...

John Marsden's Dear Miffy comes to mind... except it's kinda harrowing

R.J. Anderson said...

Growing up I saw a few MG/YA books with disabled characters treated in a compassionate or sometimes pitying way, and occasionally allowed to help out the hero (usually as a "brain in a chair"). What I hardly ever saw was a disabled character getting involved in action scenes, and what I had NEVER seen was a disabled character as the love interest/romantic lead. I'm happy to see more books trying to correct that (including my own), and moving away from the "poor sickly thing" motif.

It's a pity that Catherine Jenks's GENIUS SQUAD isn't eligible this year (or at least I don't think it is), because Sonja is a great character.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

My son is now in a cast for a month and I've been trying to find some books that have characters with casts. !

CLM said...

The ones I knew best growing up were Jean Little (esp. Mine for Keeps, a favorite) and Light a Single Candle by Beverly Butler. I thought it was interesting in Dramarama that the heroine's mother was deaf but it was very incidental to the story.

CLM said...

I wonder if for many people the first book they read about someone disabled was Karen by Marie Killilea? It was a huge bestseller long before I was born but I read the juvenile version Wren when I was about 8 or 9 (hmmm, same time I discovered Betsy-Tacy) and while I never reread Wren at some point I graduated to Karen and With Love from Karen. The books were inspired by the family's devout Catholic faith but I am sure they were read widely.

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