It’s important…no it’s essential that that children’s literature embrace diversity. Children will learn understanding and acceptance when they can experience stories about other cultures, people, and traditions. They’ll build self confidence when they see themselves represented as characters in stories they read. The Multicultural Children’s Book Day, celebrated on January 27th, brings awareness to the importance diversity in children’s literature. I was thrilled to join the team to call out the importance of having stories with autism themes and autistic characters. I was asked to review Lucy’s Amazing Friend, A Story of Autism and Friendship as one such example.
The book is the first by children’s author, Stephanie Workman, who was inspired after attending Ellen Walker’s reading of her book, Bringing Up John, a memoir about raising her autistic son. Stephanie was surprised to find out that her husband Tim was friends with John in high school and in Ellen’s book, she talked about the impact he made on John because he was his friend. Her husband had no idea…to him, John was just John.
The spark from learning about John and Tim’s friendship ignited Stephanie’s imagination and Lucy’s Amazing Friend was born!
Lucy is an 8 year old who notices a boy sitting alone at recess. She doesn’t understand why he won’t look at her or talk to her when she admires the picture he’s drawing. She learns that her classmate Daniel is autistic. The story takes you on a journey of their friendship…the things they enjoy together while lovingly sharing Daniel’s uniqueness because of his autism:
Whenever the bell ran Daniel cover his ears. Loud noises bothered him. When the lights inside were too bright, he’d put on his sunglasses.
Lucy thinks that Daniel is amazing! To her Daniel is just Daniel. To me, that’s true acceptance. You like and respect someone for who they are. This is why I recommend, Lucy’s Amazing Friend. It’s a delightful story that teaches with out preaching. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Lucy and Daniel are playing in his room and listen to their favorite song over and over again. The illustration (by Tim Raynes) shows the happy friends with arms in the air…and there’s a sign that says “Not being able to speak…is not the same as not having anything to say.”
Autism Stories and Activities for Kids
If you would like to find more children’s stories with autism themes and activities for the classroom, download our Bluebee TeeVee Autism Information Station webisodes and episode guides:
- Download Autism Information Station webisodes or subscribe on YouTube
- Episode Guide 1: What is Autism? Books and Activities
- Episode Guide 2: What are People with Autism Like? Books and Activities
Learn About Multicultural Children’s Book Day!
The Multicultural Children’s Book Day mission is to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag #ReadYourWorld. The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press.
Multicultural Children’s Book day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld
Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts and you can view them here.