A child's education starts at home. From what they see and hear in their household, to the lessons their parents teach them, to the books their parents read to them. You begin teaching your child lessons before they even realize they're lessons at all. Important things like acceptance, diversity, feminism, love, friendship, kindness, and inclusion, all have seeds planted at an early age. There are children's books out there for every topic you could ever want to breach with your child, and there are plenty of children's books that teach inclusion.
I'm a firm believer that if more children learned inclusion at a young age, that this world would be a much happier and more welcoming place. It's never too early to include books that trumpet the importance of inclusion into your child's bookshelf. The more diversity they see between the pages of their books, the more diversity and different types of people, relationships, and love, they see in their every day life, the more inclusive you child is bound to be. And an inclusive child is a beautiful child, a child that will grow into a beautiful human being who stands up for others, and passes on the legacy of inclusion to their own children.
1. 'My Brother Charlie' by Holly Robinson Peete And Ryan Elizabeth Peete
In collaboration with her daughter, Holly Robinson Peete wrote this book based on her 10-year-old son who has autism. Told from the perspective of his older sister, My Brother Charlie touches on how special Charlie is, and how many incredible things he can do.
2. 'Best Friends' by Sheri Safran
A boy in a wheel-chair and his best friend take great adventures together throughout this book, through the land of make-believe, and sometimes, just to the pool. Best Friends is a beautiful pop-up book for children that teaches them that a disability doesn't change who a person is.
3. 'That's What Friends Do' by Kathryn Cave
That's What Friends Do is a beautiful book that teaches children the joy of friendship, even when two friends look very different, and especially when friends need it most.
4. 'Don't Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability" by Pat Thomas
Exploring the questions and concerns children might have about physical disabilities, Don't Call Me Special makes things very simple and reassuring. Children learn about individual disabilities, and how people everywhere can live happy and full lives with their disabilities.
5. 'One, Two, Three... Jump!' by Carol Thompson
Geared at young children, One, Two Three... Jump! urges children to move and play, regardless of challenge. The illustrations in the book depict children of various ability taking part in the joy of movement.
6. 'Just Because' by Rebecca Elliott
A younger brother depicts all the things he loves to do with his older sister, and as readers read on, they discover that his sister has special needs. Beautifully teaching children to accept anyone and everyone who may face a disability, Just Because.
7. 'The Terrible Thing that Happened To Barnaby Brocket' by John Boyne
In The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket, 8-year-old Barnaby was born to float. Literally. His parents want desperately for him to be normal, but Barnaby can't help that he's extraordinary. Finding himself on a journey of epic proportions, Barnaby finds himself on the way.
8. 'Mockingbird' by Kathryn Erskine
Mockingbird's protagonist Caitlin has Asperger's. After a family tragedy, Caitlin feels lost. Without her brother, she no longer knows who to turn to, and how to cope. Discovering the word "closure," Caitlin begins a journey to look for it, and finds out much about herself along the way.
9. 'The Great Big Book Of Families' by Mary Hoffman
Focusing less on disability, and more on diversity, The Great Big Book of Families shows children that families come in all shapes and sizes, and that they are all worthy of love.
10. 'We'll Paint The Octopus Red' by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
When 6-year-old Emma's baby brother is born with Down Syndrome, she wonders what his limitations will be. Her father quickly tells her that as long as they are patient, and help him when he needs it, that he won't have any limitations at all. Answering many questions children might have about Down Syndrome, We'll Paint The Octopus Red is a sweet account of how everyone requires love and patience, no matter who they are.
11. 'Seal Surfer' by Michael Foreman
In Seal Surfer a boy and his grandfather watch a baby seal being born one afternoon, and it creates a special bond between them. The boy is a talented surfer, so talented that readers may not even notice the adapted surfboard he uses. When he finds himself in trouble, his seal friend comes to the rescue, bringing lessons of friendship and happiness with him.