Disability Acceptance Series
Today I am starting an ongoing series on books that will help teach and promote awareness of different disabilities and acceptance for those with special needs. I have used several children’s books in the classroom, and A Rainbow of Friends is one of them! But I’ve also read lots of adult books as well. (I have pinned a lot of them over the years here). So I will spend a little time now and then talking about my favorites here on the blog because I hope to spread the news that teachers and parents can use these books as good teaching resources at home and school.
The first one I want to share with you is an excellent introductory book, which alludes to disabilities in a subtle way. A Rainbow of Friends, by P. K. Halliman, is a children’s picture book that teaches that everyone has some things in common and some things that are different.
Students with disabilities are not singled out in this book as different, but are included in a list of examples showing kids are have different things that make them unique: being funny, clothing preferences, speech, movement, etc.
It talks about how we can all be friends no matter what our views or interests are. It is written in a nice poetic verse that kids will enjoy when it is read aloud.
I have used this book at the beginning of the year when a general ed classroom teacher requests me to come in and talk to the class about a friend with a physical impairment (of course this is with parent permission) who is in that class or grade level.
With this particular book, I like to take a poll before reading. Raise your hand if
- You can be funny.
- You love to sing.
- You are a good helper.
- You love to read books.
Now raise your hand if you ever need help with…
- Reaching something up high.
- Playing an instrument.
Then I say something like not everyone raised their hand for each thing. That’s because we like different things, we are good at different things, and we need help with different things. For example, two boys might like wearing the same type of shirt. But one is good at making things and another is good at swimming. Two girls might both be good at reading, but one has dark brown eyes and another has light brown eyes.
Then I read the book. Sometimes I will just read part of it, depending on how much time I have. Sometimes I will leave the book with the teacher to read, especially if I am going to read another book more specific to the student’s disability (i.e. spina bifida, missing arm/leg, cerebral palsy, etc).
A Rainbow of Friends is a great book for teaching students about accepting others who are different from you. I hope parents and both general ed and special ed teachers use it. It would also be an excellent choice to add to your school library!