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World Down Syndrome Day 2017

world-down-syndrome-dayFor World Down Syndrome Day, we’ve compiled a selection of children’s books that we hope support the mission of Down Syndrome International “to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.” You can also read author Cammie McGovern’s Horn Book Magazine article from 2014 “Beyond the Magically (Dis)abled“: “We don’t need to sell disability or put a polish on it. We need to show the humanity that lies beneath the difference. The real stories will resonate not just within this community but with every reader like the one I was — pulling books with disabled characters off the shelves because those were the good ones.”

The titles below were reviewed and recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide at the time of their publication; reviews (with dates) reprinted below.


carterCarter, Alden R.  Big Brother Dustin
32 pp.    Whitman    1997
Trade ISBN 0-8075-0715-6
Photographs by Dan Young with Carol Carter. In this photo-story about “our new baby,” older sibling Dustin has Down syndrome, although the fact is never mentioned in the text. Low-key but effective, the text is never condescending as it describes the various stages of preparation for the eagerly awaited event. Handsome color photographs supplement and extend the narrative in a documentary style, highlighted by classically composed close-ups.

girnisGirnis, Meg  ABC for You and Me
32 pp.    Whitman    2000
Trade ISBN 0-8075-0101-8
Photographs by Shirley Leamon Green. For each letter, a child with Down syndrome is featured in a color photo posing or playing with a common object. Upper- and lower-case letters appear above, and the corresponding word is printed below. Appropriate for any preschool classroom, this book may be particularly welcomed by teachers and parents of children with special needs, as the absence of distracting details will be helpful to young readers with developmental delays.

rogers_Rogers, Fred  Extraordinary Friends
32 pp.    Putnam    2000
Trade ISBN 0-399-23146-3
Library binding ISBN 0-698-11861-8
Photographs by Jim Judkis. Let’s Talk about It series. This frank and simple book answers common questions nondisabled children have about people with disabilities and provides introductory etiquette. Engaging photos show three pairs of friends throughout, including a boy with cerebral palsy and a girl with Down syndrome. The text focuses on the children’s common interests without glossing over their physical differences. This is the best introduction to the topic for preschoolers since Tricia Brown’s Someone Special, Just Like You.

Intermediate/Middle School

greenwaldGreenwald, Kellie  Kellie’s Book: The Art of the Possible
56 pp.    Rayve    2008
Trade ISBN 978-1-877810-42-8
Kellie, a twenty-nine-year-old woman with Down syndrome, describes events from her youth such as the high school prom, activities she enjoys, and how she currently lives. The book’s illustrations are Kellie’s own drawings, which, though childlike, show emotion. Numerous family snapshots at book’s end highlight Kellie’s joyful personality and enthusiasm.


nelsonNelson, Suzanne  Serendipity’s Footsteps
360 pp.    Knopf    2015
Trade ISBN 978-0-385-39212-9
Library Binding ISBN 978-0-385-39213-6
Ebook ISBN 978-0-385-39214-3
A pair of shoes touches many lives, beginning with Holocaust survivor Dalya and ending with Ray and Pinny, two near-present-day runaways. The narrative alternates among characters who encounter the shoes until their stories come together. Widely varied motivations lend interest to the stories, but the novel’s obsessive focus on shoes and their apparent significance can be overdramatic.

truemanTrueman, Terry  Life Happens Next
134 pp.    HarperTeen    2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-202803-7
Shawn (Stuck in Neutral), born with cerebral palsy that prevents voluntary movements, has lived his fifteen years unable to communicate. The problem is he’s able to think, learn, and love. Mom’s cousin Debi, who has Down syndrome, is able to sense the real Shawn. Shawn lives a rich interior life, and Trueman’s characterization of his protagonist is vivid and multidimensional.

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