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Children's books on deaf-blindness and disability

Family Engagement

Hi everyone,

NCDB recently received an inquiry about where to find children’s books on deaf-blindness and disabilities in general. Children’s literature is one of my favorite subjects due to my librarian background, so I did some research and put together this list of resources (I focused on books for preschool through 6th grade and didn’t include young adult novels). I thought it might be interesting and/or helpful to others, so I’m sharing it here...

A great source for children’s books on disability in general is the Schneider Family Book Award, given annually by the American Library Association to books about the disability experience. They give the award in three categories—birth through grade school, middle school, and teen. Go to the link below and select a year to see the winners:
http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/awards/1/select

Probably easier to navigate is their bibliography of books about the disability experience (organized by age range):
http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/sites/ala.org.awardsgrants/files/content/awardsrecords/schneideraward/2009_schneider_bio_children.pdf

As far as books specifically about deaf-blindness, there are a TON of Helen Keller biographies for kids out there. Just search Amazon or a library catalog to find one that’s at the reading level you want. Here are two I like because they have a lot of photos:

Helen's Eyes: A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's Teacher
http://www.amazon.com/Helens-Eyes-Photobiography-Sullivan-Photobiographies/dp/1426322224/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443837563&sr=8-1&keywords=helen%27s+eyes

Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures
http://www.amazon.com/Helen-Keller-Her-Life-Pictures/dp/0439918154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443837713&sr=8-1&keywords=helen+keller+her+life+in+pictures

This next one is a biography of Laura Bridgman (slightly fictionalized) that I loved when I was a child, so I decided to include it, even though it’s old. It’s out of print but available on Amazon:

Child of the Silent Night
http://www.amazon.com/Child-Silent-Night-Fisher-Hunter/dp/0395068355/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443838656&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+the+silent+night

Here’s a more recent children’s biography of Laura (higher reading level):

She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer
http://www.amazon.com/She-Touched-World-Bridgman-Deaf-Blind/dp/0618852999/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1443838917&sr=8-2&keywords=laura+bridgman

Aside from Helen biographies, there are not many children’s books out there that deal with deaf-blindness. I did find the following two:

Can You Feel the Thunder?
Thirteen-year-old Mic Parsons struggles with mixed feelings about his deaf and blind sister and his new neighbor. (Grades 4-8)
http://www.amazon.com/Can-Feel-Thunder-Lynn-McElfresh/dp/068982324X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443839504&sr=8-1&keywords=Can+You+Feel+the+Thunder%3F

A Dog Called Homeless
Fifth-grader Cally Louise Fisher stops talking, partly because her father and brother never speak of her mother who died a year earlier, but visions of her mother, friendships with a homeless man and a deaf-blind boy, and a huge dog ensure that she still communicates. (Grades 4-7)
http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Called-Homeless-Sarah-Lean/dp/0062122266/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443840903&sr=8-1&keywords=a+dog+called+homeless

Here are two bibliographies of children’s books that include blind characters:
http://www.aph.org/files/museum/BooksBlindness.pdf

https://www.dcmp.org/caai/nadh264.pdf

Here’s a bibliography of picture books organized by disability:
http://guides.libraries.wright.edu/childrensbooksdisabilitythemes

Here’s a nice, concise bibliography of children’s books on disability from the San Francisco Public Library:
http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=2000152701

And last but not least, I have to give a shout out to one of my very favorite books as a child, Connie’s New Eyes. It’s the true story of a woman getting her first guide dog, starting when the dog is a puppy and following the two of them through their training and back to Connie’s home and career. It’s illustrated with beautiful full-page black and white photographs. Unfortunately it’s no longer in print, but you can get it from Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Connies-New-Eyes-Bernard-Wolf/dp/0397316976/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443845351&sr=8-1&keywords=connie%27s+new+eyes

Do you have any books to add? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!

Elizabeth Bell

Posted Oct 9, 2015 by Elizabeth Bell

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Comments (7)

It comes to my mind that these books might make great gifts during the upcoming holidays. (I know, there's Halloween and Thanksgiving, first; but it doesn't hurt to work up some ideas now.) Thank you for the help, Elizabeth.

Linda McDowell

Posted Oct 14, 2015 by Linda McDowell

What a nice list Elizabeth- thanks. I am seeing this information being shared with parents and families through social media. Great to see the network! Thanks again!

Patti McGowan

Posted Oct 12, 2015 by Patti McGowan

Just wonderful Elizabeth! What a great resource to share with teacher and parent networks! BRAVO!

Amy Parker

Posted Oct 12, 2015 by Amy Parker

Thanks, Elizabeth! Great information....I will include some of these in my newsletter!
Sherri Nelson-ND

SHERRI NELSON

Posted Oct 12, 2015 by SHERRI NELSON

"Why I Am Me" by the Australasian CHARGE Syndrome Family Association. It is specific to CHARGE but has relevance to deaf-blindness in general too (also available in German too!!!)

David Brown

Posted Oct 11, 2015 by David Brown

This is wonderful, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for putting this together. I bet teachers will love this resource as well. I'm sure by sharing this resource with your child's teacher, other children could benefit.

Nancy Steele

Posted Oct 10, 2015 by Nancy Steele

Here are more suggestions contributed by members of the listserv:

Knots on a Counting Rope
In this poignant story, the counting rope is a metaphor for the passage of time and for a Navaho boy's emerging confidence in facing his blindness.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805054790?keywords=knots%20on%20a%20counting%20rope&qid=1444425013&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Princess Pooh
The story of sibling jealousy when a young girl discovers life in a wheelchair is no fun at all.
http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Pooh-Kathleen-M-Muldoon/dp/0807566276/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1444425144&sr=8-1&keywords=princess+pooh

Try http://www.amightygirl.com/ then search “disabilities” and “disability siblings” for some good books.

Woodbine House publishes books about children with special needs and carries a number of books aimed at children:
http://www.woodbinehouse.com/

Elizabeth Bell

Posted Oct 9, 2015 by Elizabeth Bell

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