Since Dexter came into our worlds, we speak new words and understand a whole bunch of new ideas and terms. We were knocked sideways, and our lives are running on parallel tracks. We're still heading in the same direction, we're just taking a very different route.
Now, different things are important to us... because we need different resources and different services.
And soon, books will become more important to us... books about awesome kids... brave, strong, resilient kids.... kind, caring and loving kids... kids with special needs.
We'll want a list of books we can pass in Dexter's sisters' directions... books to help them see they are not the only ones with a brother who struggles to communicate and move independently.
We'll need a list of books we might be able to have read at Dexter's pre-school... books to help his peers better understand his cerebral palsy and vision impairment.
And, occasionally, we'll need books for ourselves... books for research and books to remind us we are not alone in this tough new adventure.
So, we've collected a list of books... books about people with special needs... books with brave, stubborn, strong, resilient, cheeky, loving and confident characters, who also have a disability.
The books we're including were resourced from various websites. We've not read many of them. We're not certain on age specifics, and sometimes, the disability is not named. And that's fine by us!
We've put the books into categories, though some of them cross over a few categories, just like Dexter.
We sorted them as: cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, vision & hearing impairments, autism & Aspergers, characters in wheelchairs, limb differences and 'various'.
This post contains the books relating to cerebral palsy.
To go to the books with the other books, click on these links:
vision and hearing impairments
autism and Aspergers
various (muscular dystrophy, facial deformity, ADHD)
Feel free to let us know of other great books out there.
Having always prided herself on blending in with "normal" people despite her cerebral palsy, seventeen-year-old Jean begins to question her role in the world while attending a summer camp for children with disabilities.
The true life story of a dog who changed everything for one woman.
For the first time in my life, I didn't need to pretend, I didn't need to be tough: I only needed to be honest. "I have cerebral palsy. I walk funny and my balance is bad. I fall a lot. My hands shake, too. That means I'm not so good at carrying things. And if I drop stuff, sometimes it's hard to just bend down and get it." I waited anxiously for the interviewer's response. She smiled. "It sounds like a service dog could be great for you."
So began Leigh Brill's journey toward independence and confidence, all thanks to a trained companion dog named Slugger.
The struggling college student and the Labrador with a "a coat like sunshine" and a tail that never stopped wagging became an instant team.
Once upon a time there were five little girls who shared a dream. They wanted to be ballerinas and dance on stage like their sisters and cousins and friends.
But it would be hard for these girls to make their dream come true. They had cerebral palsy or other physical disabilities, which meant their muscles didn’t move the way they wanted them to. Some wore leg braces. Some used wheelchairs and walkers to get around. But these girls were determined. They had a dedicated teacher. Every week they practiced. They worked hard. And one day they were ready.
Ballerina Dreams is an inspiring true story of love, hope and courage for everyone and anyone who has ever wished (and worked) hard enough to make their dreams come true.
Kirsten Debear & Laura Dwight (Author, Illustrator) Meet Marina. She is a four-year-old who likes to dance, play with dolls, go on the see-saw, and dress up. She also screams and shouts and makes a lot of noise.
Meet Moira. She is also a four-year-old who likes to do the same things that Marina likes to do. But she likes quiet and when Marina makes a lot of noise, she is frightened. She runs away when Marina makes a lot of noise.
At first, Marina, who has cerebral palsy, and Moira, who has down syndrome, could not play together because of their differences. But eventually the two girls become best friends.
The story of the friendship that develops between Marina and Moira is written with accessible language and includes expressive pictures that will captivate all children.
Brian and Kerith had plans for their family. That all changed six weeks into the pregnancy of their second child when Kerith got chicken pox. Fears flooded their lives for months. When she was eight months pregnant, they received more bad news. Their baby was also affected by a completely different virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV). There was a forty percent chance their baby would not survive. Brielle not only survived, but thrived despite cerebral palsy caused by CMV and is now nearly 18 years old. Brielle and Me is a mother's story of how they managed life with a daughter with cerebral palsy while navigating through developmental therapy, doctors, school, and relationships with friends and family. This is their journey of hope, determination, love, and faith.
(Go to their website here)
This book was written to help the author's granddaughter understand Cerebral Palsy. This is a story for children ages 3-7. The author's hope that this book will help eliminate some of the prejudices that often begin out of misunderstandings during childhood.
Aiko Cassidy, a fourteen-year-old with cerebral palsy, tired of posing for the sculptures that have made her mother famous, dreams of going to Japan to meet her father and become a great manga artist, but takes a life-changing trip to Paris, instead.
The UK disability charity Scope has launched a new story book for young disabled children. It was written and produced with a mum of a young girl with cerebral palsy and her occupational therapist to help other young children understand how different equipment can help to improve every day activities.
In If You Could See Her Smile, Karen’s little sister, Ruth, has cerebral palsy. Karen is sad and frustrated with her classmates making fun about Ruth’s disability. When she finds a robin with a broken wing outside her house, Karen comes up with a way to make her classmates understand about Ruth’s condition. Author Alma J. Burkhart flawlessly creates a sweet story with a powerful lesson for kids to understand about people, especially other kids, with handicaps.
Age Range: 8 to 10
Nine-year-old Michelle describes the joys, loving times, difficulties, and other special situations involved in living with her older sister Amy Emmert, who was born severely disabled with cerebral palsy. Written by Michelle Emmert (Amy's Sister)
An absolutely wonderful book to read to a child who has a brother or sister with Cerebral Palsy. Also a wonderful read to teach children, that we are all different.
My big sister Clemmie is my best friend. She can’t walk, talk, move around much, cook macaroni, pilot a plane, juggle or do algebra. I don’t know why she doesn’t do these things.
A younger brother describes all the fun he has with the big sister he loves so much—just because, in this heartwarming picture book about being perfectly loved, no matter what. He is enthusiastic about just how loving and special she is, and delights in telling us about all the fun things they do together. Only as his tale unfolds does the reader begin to realize that his sister has special needs—and by then the reader just accepts, as he does, all the wonderful things about her.
Jesse Cooper was an honor-roll student who loved to windsurf and write poetry. He also had severe cerebral palsy and was quadriplegic, unable to speak, and wracked by seizures.
He died suddenly at age seventeen.
In fiercely honest, surprisingly funny, and sometimes heartbreaking prose, Jesse’s mother, Marianne Leone, chronicles her transformation by the remarkable life and untimely death of her child. An unforgettable memoir of joy, grief, and triumph, Knowing Jesse unlocks the secret of unconditional love and speaks to all families who strive to do right by their children.
Gripping, raw, and beautiful, this book reveals the struggles and rewards of caring for a child with severe disability and helps professionals work more sensitively and effectively with families of children with special needs. Written with grace and candor by special education professional Beth Harry, the book chronicles the life of her daughter, Melanie, who was born with a rare form of cerebral palsy and died less than 6 years later.
Award-winning author and designer Shaila Abdullah teams up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah to bring you this heartwarming tale of a little girl who forms a close bond with a child with cerebral palsy. The girl finds that through her art, she can reach her special friend Suhana.
written by Laurie Lears illustrated by Stacey Schuett
Nathan, a boy with Cerebral Palsy, lives next door to Miss Sandy, an adult who rehabilitates birds of prey. Nathan wishes he could help Miss Sandy but feels limited by his need to use a wheelchair and walker to get around. When Miss Sandy begins taking care of an owl with a broken wing who Nathan names Fire, Nathan identifies with the bird's plight. Her injury means she can never fly in the wild again, no matter how much she wishes she could. Nathan is determined to help miserable Fire, so he does some research and suggests that Miss Sandy allow Fire to care for orphaned baby birds. When his plan works and Nathan sees how much happier Fire is to have a "job," Nathan decides he can help Miss Sandy with her bird care tasks after all. Even though it takes him a long time to complete physical tasks like filling the birds' bathing basins with water, Nathan is proud of his accomplishments.
Noah opens his story with, "The good news is I think I broke my leg. The bad news is I don't know if anyone at school would ever believe how it happened. Or worse, I'm not sure it anyone will ever figure out how I got here." The boy is obviously in some pretty steep trouble, but backs up his story to tell us a little about himself: he's a 40 pound 12-year-old with cerebral palsy who can't speak and is blind in one eye. He spends his days in his wheelchair or on the floor--missing nothing that goes on around him. His younger sister Emma is one of the few people who communicates overtly with him, using the "five finger method" where each digit and each knuckle represents a letter. She tracks his eyes and "reads" his spelling. The rest of the family relies on intuition to "talk" to him.
Oshie is an engaging, funny, enthusiastic and often rebellious boy it just so happens he has cerebral palsy
In these four stories from Oshie's starting at a new school and being shunned for his inability to play football to saving the day on the pitch he wins the admiration, and hearts, of his classmates for the abilities which compensate for, and partially arise, out of his disability.
In 1922, at the age of two, Petey's distraught parents commit him to the state's insane asylum, unaware that their son is actually suffering from severe cerebral palsy. Bound by his wheelchair and struggling to communicate with the people around him, Petey finds a way to remain kind and generous despite the horrific conditions in his new "home." Through the decades, he befriends several caretakers but is heartbroken when each eventually leaves him. Determined not to be hurt again, he vows to no longer let hope of lifelong friends and family torment him.
That changes after he is moved into a nursing home and meets a young teen named Trevor Ladd; he sees something in the boy and decides to risk friendship one last time. Trevor, new to town and a bit of a loner, is at first weary of the old man in the wheelchair. But after hearing more of his story, Trevor learns that there is much more to Petey than meets the eye.
Josie Wyatt knows what it means to be different. Her family's small farmhouse seems to shrink each time another mansion grows up behind it. She lives with her career-obsessed mom and opinionated Gran, but has never known her father. Then there's her cerebral palsy: even if Josie wants to forget that she was born with a disability, her mom can't seem to let it go. Yet when a strange new boy--Jordan--moves into one of the houses nearby, he seems oblivious to all the things that make Josie different. Before long, Josie finds herself reaching out for something she's never really known: a friend… and possibly more. Interlinked free verse poems tell the beautiful, heartfelt story of a girl, a family farm reduced to a garden, and a year of unforgettable growth.
Taylor and Tyler are twin brothers and best friends. But the twins are different in one significant way: Taylor has cerebral palsy, while Tyler does not. Through Taylor's eyes we see how much effort he must expend to strengthen his legs, which are weak. He explains how valuable his new wheelchair is because it helps him maneuver more easily and do the things he want to do, like go to school and play basketball with his brother Tyler.
*Each book is written from the viewpoint of a real child with a physical disability. The goal of each book is to see into the child's world, understand the physical challenge the child faces, and learn how an assistive device can empower the child to overcome the limitations posed by his or her disability.
Romeo Riley is the subject of two “Private Eye” children’s books called “Romeo Riley: The Boy Who Saw Too Much,” and “Romeo Riley for President: The Case of the Crooked Campaign.”
The character of Romeo has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and communicates with his friends and teacher using a communication device.
Although life's journey takes him far from his childhood home, Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., never forgets the people he meets and the lessons he learns as a young man growing up in picturesque DeGraff, Ohio, population 900. A small-town newspaper boy who becomes a lifelong educator himself, Dr. Niece is deeply touched by the endearing residents of DeGraff who shaped his youth-especially Bernie Jones. Confined to a wheelchair with severe cerebral palsy, Bernie becomes Rickie's friend, inspiration and superhero, opening a world of compassion, trust and adventure to them both.
When he leaves DeGraff to attend Ohio State University, Rick promises Bernie that he will visit him again. Unfortunately, when Bernie's parents pass away, Bernie disappears, too, taken in by a distant relative. Forty years later, Rick learns that his boyhood friend is living in a nursing home. Returning to Ohio, he visits the never-to-be-forgotten Bernie Jones of a childhood long past and a promise finally kept.
This story unites Arthur, a little boy abandoned many years ago in a grim hospital in northern England, with Esther, a radiantly intelligent young girl who is suffering from cerebral palsy, and with Daniel, an American computer-games genius.
This book has been made into a BBC film.
For sixteen-year-old Ben Bancroft -- a kid with cerebral palsy, no parents, and an overprotective grandmother -- the closest thing to happiness is hunkering alone in the back of the Rialto Theatre and watching Bride of Frankenstein for the umpteenth time. The last person he wants to run into is drugged-up Colleen Minou, resplendent in ripped tights, neon miniskirt, and an impressive array of tattoos. But when Colleen climbs into the seat beside him and rests a woozy head on his shoulder, Ben has that unmistakable feeling that his life is about to change. With unsparing humor and a keen flair for dialogue, Ron Koertge captures the rare repartee between two lonely teenagers on opposite sides of the social divide. His smart, self-deprecating protagonist learns that kindred spirits may be found for the looking -- and that the resolve to follow your passion can be strengthened by something as simple as a human touch.
Fourteen-year-old Shawn McDaniel, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy and cannot function, relates his perceptions of his life, his family, and his condition, especially as he believes his father is planning to kill him Sequel = Life Happens Next by Terry Treuman. Shawn McDaniel, almost fifteen, cannot speak and has no control over his body due to severe cerebral palsy, but he forms a strong connection with his mother's cousin Debi, who has Down Syndrome, and her dog Rusty.
A young boy born in Russia is placed in an orphanage because he has cerebral palsy. He is mentally un- impaired (although he is treated as though he is mentally not bright at all). He future fate is fast approaching when he will be committed to an adult mental asylum where he will surely be strapped to a bed all day and all night and though he is five, he will be fed out of a bottle because it is easier for the staff that way. This story is full of truth and beauty and without giving away too much this link takes you to his book page where you see John looking happy and healthy standing beside his American mother.
Bee has cerebral palsy and her twin sister Fee has to care for her. When Fee discovers that Bee is a talented poet, she helps her with her writing, while at the same time becoming inspired to do something she is really good at herself - running. Together the twins find a way of overcoming their day to day problems, and surprising everyone around them.
This 3rd Grade and up Chapter book explores the therapeutic benefits of pet therapy, special needs and how other's view the outside appearance of "normal" in a world of many differences that embody love, loyalty and joy.
Goodwill Vultures Club gives readers an inside look at a boy facing more than a normal share of challenges, from divorced parents and confrontations with his peers, to a brother with cerebral palsy, to his own quest for other people to appreciate vultures as he does.
Buzz strives to get others to see past his pet vulture’s exterior to the importance and value of the creature.
When Christopher, a young boy with cerebral palsy, attends school for the first time, he suddenly realises how different he is from the other children. His disability also makes him an easy target for the school bully. Confused and uncertain, Christopher seeks solace in Azalea, an enchanting mermaid with a disability of her own. Little do they know, their relationship will change them both forever.
(We wrote about this book here.)
In this vivid, intelligent, often comical memoir of finding his way in the world as a boy and young man with Cerebral Palsy, Michael Cooney, founder of Exceptional Ability Entertainment, describes his journey to adulthood, as a series of adventures in which he’s sometimes the hero, sometimes the loser, and sometimes a little in between. With a powerful voice, he takes the reader on a voyage involving guitars, radio, rock and roll, love, therapy, surgeries, school, falling, climbing the Statue of Liberty on his hands and knees, learning to tie his shoes at the age of twelve, falling some more, wheeling solo in a wheelchair in city traffic, getting busted by the U.S. government, almost going to prison, and much more. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, or “an alien,” as Michael thought of himself as a child, will find a rare kinship in these pages, as well as the warmth, wit, and excellent company of a fellow traveler.
In a futuristic society sixteen-year-old Gem discovers that a group of handicapped people, who call themselves the Waterbound, live hidden beneath the City. When Gem, 16, discovers in the database an old map showing rivers and other points of access underground, her friend Jay admits knowing all about them and takes her down to meet them. Blind Mike, deaf Sal, wheelchair-bound Sophie, and others, perhaps a hundred altogether, are dead, according to official records, but were secretly rescued by courageous hospital workers. It turns out that Gem, and everyone she knows, has a sibling below ground.
This is a contemporary realistic fiction about a young girl, Kara with dyslexia, whose mother has disappeared on an expedition at sea and has never been found. Kara and a boy who has cerebral palsy embark on a quest to find out what happened to Kara’s mother and to save the town’s reef bay from destruction by dredgers. In her journey to find answers Kara learns she needs to move on without her mother.