Reading opens your imagination and introduces people to new worlds. With so many choices available, how do you know which book to choose for your child? To find out, we bypassed the publishing, the PR firms, and the mainstream media and went straight to the experts: Your Harris County Librarians!
My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson
Isabelle and Charlie are friends. They both like to draw, dance, read, and play at the park. They both like to eat Cheerios. They both cry if their feelings are hurt. And like most friends, they are also different from each other. Isabelle has Down syndrome. Charlie doesn’t. Written by Isabelle’s mother, this charming tale encourages young readers to think about what makes a friendship special.
Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis
Told in rhyme, this story follows Susan through a series of familiar activities. She swims with her father, works hard in school, plays with her friends – and even rides a horse. Lively, thoughtfully drawn illustrations reveal a portrait of a busy, happy little girl with whom younger readers will identify. Not until the end of the story is it revealed that Susan uses a wheelchair. Here is an inspiring look at one spunky little girl whose physical disability is never seen as a handicap.
Moses Goes to The Circus by Isaac Millman
Moses and his family are going to the circus. Not just any circus but the Big Apple’s Circus of the Senses! In a single ring, there are acts by trapeze artists, acrobats, elephants, horses, and clowns – all specially designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and the blind. Moses’s little sister, Renee, isn’t deaf but is learning sign language, and Moses loves teaching her the signs for their day at the circus. Isaac Millman takes readers on a wonderful outing in pictures and written English and in American Sign Language. Detailed diagrams of the signs are included so that readers can learn along with Renee.
Picture Books (Pre K-K)
Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll by Sunny Seki
After the 1783 eruption of Japan’s Mount Asama destroys crops in nearby villages, an orphaned blind girl who lives at the Daruma Temple in Takasaki invents a doll representing a famed Buddhist monk and his teachings about resilience.
Be Quiet, Marina! by Kirsten DeBear
Marina and Moira like many of the same things. However, Marina loves to make noise, and Moira likes quiet. These two preschoolers, one with Cerebral Palsy and one with Down Syndrome, learn to play together and become best friends.
Dancing With Katya by Doris Chaconas
Anna loves to dance with her beloved sister Katya in the meadow of their family’s Wisconsin farm. But during the summer in which Katya turns five she is suddenly overcome by a high fever. The doctor delivers a grim diagnosis: polio. Although she recovers from the lingering illness, Katya’s legs are left weakened and twisted. Anna carries her to the meadow in a wheelbarrow now, and dances alone for her sister. Together they dream of a time when Katya will be able to join her in their ballerina game.
Early Readers (Grades 1-3)
Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco
When young Trisha finds out her class at the new school is known as “The Junkyard,” she is devastated. She moved from her old town so she wouldn’t be in a special class anymore! But then she meets her teacher, the quirky and invincible Mrs. Peterson, and her classmates, an oddly brilliant group of students each with his or her own unique talent. And it is here in The Junkyard that Trisha learns the true meaning of genius. Based on a real-life event in Patricia Polacco’s childhood, this ode to teachers will inspire all readers to find their inner genius.
The Garden Wall by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
Already unhappy that his family has moved from the country to the city, Tim is not pleased when his new neighbor turns out to be not only a girl, but also deaf. Soon, he overcomes the difficulties of this transition and learns that true communication begins with an open mind and heart.
Nice Wheels by Gwendolyn Hooks
There’s a new kid in school. Although he is in a wheelchair, the other kids in class realize that the new boy can do everything that they can do–even make new friends.
Children’s Fiction (Grades 4-6)
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and meets there Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben’s story is told in words; Rose’s in pictures.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white-the world is full of colors-messy and beautiful.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.
Teen Fiction (Ages 12 & up)
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She’s not comforted by the news that she’ll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run? As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don’t know what to say, act like she’s not there. Which she could handle better if she weren’t now keenly aware that she’d done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she’s missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her. With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that’s not enough for her now. She doesn’t just want to cross finish lines herself-she wants to take Rosa with her.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.
Catch & Release by Blythe Woolston
Eighteen-year-old Polly, and Odd, who is a year younger and several degrees more impulsive, are the only survivors of a MRSA (also known as flesh-eating bacteria) outbreak in their town that killed its five other victims. They did not survive unscathed. Polly lost an eye, and her face is scarred. Odd lost his foot and is tortured by phantom pain. Polly and Odd had no connection before MRSA, but now that their former plans are obsolete, they have nothing but each other and a shared affection for trout fishing. The rest of their small Montana hometown is decidedly uncomfortable for the two who lived. So when Odd shows up in his grandmother’s 1979 Cadillac D’Elegance, promising a day on the river, it’s pretty clear that a remarkable journey is in store for the two of them.