Once again at the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association, along with other children’s book awards, the Schneider Family Book Awards were announced for books with disability content. A jury of children’s librarians chose from among many fine books the following:

Young Children’s: A Boy and A Jaguar by Allan Robinowitz
The renowned cat conservationist reflects on his early childhood struggles with a speech disorder, describing how he only spoke fluently when he was communicating with animals and how he resolved at a young age to find his voice to be their advocate.

Middle school: Rain Reign written by Ann M. Martin
Struggling with Asperger’s, Rose shares a bond with her beloved dog, but when the dog goes missing during a storm, Rose is forced to confront the limits of her comfort levels, even if it means leaving her routines in order to search for her pet.

Teen: Girls Like Us written by Gail Giles
Graduating from their school’s special education program, Quincy and Biddy are placed together in their first independent apartment and discover unexpected things they have in common in the face of past challenges and a harrowing trauma.

Certain kinds of books are unfortunately not eligible for this award. A young adult novel by a friend of mine, Cecelia Zorn Angels Don’t Get Tattoos about a young woman dying of cancer and her friends and family couldn’t win but I’d add it to your short list. It’s far more believable than Fault in Our Stars in my view. In any case, some good books to add to your reading list if you are interested in children’s literature.

National Public Radio talked about some of the children’s book awards including the Coretta Scott King award, but not the Schneider. The We Need Diverse Books initiative makes a good point, but even they don’t talk much about books with disability content. Disability as diversity is just starting to get noticed.

We’ve come a long way from when I was a child and biographies of Louis Braille and Helen Keller were about all that was out there. I’m proud that the book awards I started are helping bring notice to the life experiences of the 19% of us with disabilities.

Here’s to good reading!

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