One of the most important lessons we can teach children is to respect others’ differences. Not only is this simply the right thing to do, but because no two people are the same, it’s essential for kids to learn how to interact with those who are different by finding common ground.
Children will encounter many kinds of diversity among their peers, including differences in how people learn. Neurodivergence is a term used to describe a person’s behavior, brain and/or learning process when it is different from what is considered typical. While once considered “a problem or abnormal,” scientists and researchers have come to understand neurodivergence not as an illness, but simply as different ways people learn and process information.
To help children better understand learning differences, we invite you to share the following books that approach the subject of neurodivergence in a way that’s both uplifting and approachable.
Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds
This empowering book encourages children to dream big and not to be afraid of exploring. Though the world often tells us to follow the rules and color inside the lines, Happy Dreamer celebrates the times when we are free to become our authentic “dreamer maximus.” While life has its many ups and downs, Reynolds inspires readers to stay true to who they are, and not to worry if their dreams are different from others’.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca
When Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism at a young age, many believed she would not be able to talk, let alone make substantial contributions to modern science. However, her unique mind gave her the ability to connect with animals in a special way and led her to develop inventions that have improved the treatment of farm animals. This book celebrates Grandin’s life and shows readers that seeing the world differently can have its advantages.
Crow Boy by Taro Yashima
A young boy named Chibi has been an outcast since his first day of school. Afraid of his classmates, he spends most of the school day by himself. However, when a new teacher named Mr. Isobe arrives, he sees something special in the boy. Mr. Isobe invites Chibi to participate in the school’s talent show, where he shares his incredible ability to imitate the voices of crows. This uplifting book celebrates the differences in all of us and shows children that everyone deserves to be heard.
Hacking the Code: The Ziggety Zaggety Road of a D-Kid by Gea Meijering
Kees has many talents: drawing, fixing things, solving problems and pulling pranks. However, because of his dyslexia, he struggles with reading and writing. When he and his best friend Pete get caught pulling a prank on one of their teachers, they are tasked with writing an essay about the hardest thing they have ever done. Kees must overcome his dyslexia to complete the task, and his persistence shows children that with hard work, they too can overcome the
challenges in their own lives.
Trampoline Boy by Nan Forler
This book introduces readers to a main character known as “Trampoline Boy,” and invites them to understand how he sees the world. Though kids walk by and tease the boy for frequently jumping up and down on his trampoline, he remains calm and collected. One day, a girl named Peaches joins Trampoline Boy, and as she spends time jumping with him, readers see the importance of embracing different perspectives.
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