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April 26, 2020

15 Best Black Special Education Children's Books

When you step into the world of special needs for your child it's like stepping into an emergency that you didn't know existed. Between advocating for your child and ensuring they are getting the support they need it never occurs to you that they might need support that isn’t in your face. We are on this mission to normalize their world but not understanding the impact on how they may view themselves. My son asks me occasionally if his behavior is normal and I usually respond that all people are different.

However, how many special kids think to themselves am I normal? Especially when they don’t see themselves in other students. During Black History month, I started to think about this given it's the month we promote pride in our black culture and accomplishments. So we can inspire ourselves and children. What about our special kids? Who do we show them to inspire them and help them realize they are not alone. There are other kids just like them out there who are experiencing the same situations and overcoming diversity.

With these thoughts, I started looking for Black children’s books that will inspire, engage, and help my sons relate to the characters in the book. In my research, I’ve found some awesome authors who have special needs children and have worked to help their child embrace their diagnosis as a superpower versus something to be ashamed of.

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  1. Brailynn the Ballerina

    By  Brailynn Camille

    Brailynn wants to be a BALLERINA. Brailynn goes to her first dance class and meets her new friend Jada. Brailynn has a hard time learning the dance moves and some of the girls begin to laugh when she misses some of the steps. Jada knows Brailynn learns differently because she has Autism. So Jada shows compassion and helps her get back on track. Brailynn follows Jada's lead and finally gets the approval of Ms. Claudelle to perform in the final show.

    Superpower: Autism Spectrum Disorder

  2. Amiri’s Birthday Wish

By Florenza Denise Lee

Do you like playing the Guessing Game? Well, so does Amiri’s family, and what better day to play it than on your birthday! Today is Amiri’s birthday, and her family has a tradition; the birthday person decides where the family will go and what they will do. Will they go to the park, the museum, or a movie? The possibilities are endless, and so is the fun when reading this amazing book written by Florenza Lee and brilliantly illustrated by Fx and Color Studio. Can you guess what Amiri wants for her special day? She bets you can’t!

Superpower: Vitiligo

3. B is for Breathe: The ABCs of Coping with Fussy and Frustrating Feelings

By Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd

From the letter A to the letter Z, B is for Breathe celebrates the many ways children can express their feelings and develop coping skills at an early age. Fun, cute, and exciting illustrations, this colorful book teaches kids simple ways to cope with fussy and frustrating emotions. This book will inspire kids to discuss their feelings, show positive behaviors, and practice calm down strategies.

Superpower: Anxiety/Social Emotional Issues

4. Birdie's Way

By Lynette Edwards

Birdie is a little girl that is different. She has to take medicine but she doesn’t understand why. One day she decides to stop taking her medication. Birdie is educated on the importance of taking her medicine each day.

Superpower: Mental Illness

5. Dyslexia is My SuperPower

By: Albert Wright

The first book of the Wright One Academy series is about the story of Little Albert, a sweet boy who has many strengths but struggles with reading. Join Albert on his journey to find out how to turn a weakness into strength in Dyslexia is my Super Power. Join Albert on his journey to discover why reading is so hard, and learn how to find the superhero inside.

Superpower: Dyslexia

6. How Amari Learned to Love School Again

By Tyrus Goshay

Amari loves school, but suddenly everything changes! Come on this journey to see how Amari Rediscovers his love for school. Welcome to the world of Amari, who is a talented and smart young man that overcomes the challenges of ADHD. This book was designed to inspire children and families.

ADHD can be a very controversial topic.  There are many misconceptions and misinformation about the disorder.  This book was created to inform and empower kids and parents who deal with the challenges of ADHD.

Superpower: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

7. My Brother Charlie

By: Holly Robinson Peete

“Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It's harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe." But as his big sister tells us, for everything that Charlie can't do well, there are plenty more things that he's good at. He knows the names of all the American presidents. He knows stuff about airplanes. And he can even play the piano better than anyone he knows.

Superpower: Autism Spectrum Disorder

8. My Deaf Friend Can Do Anything You Can Do

By: Tanesha Ausby

My Deaf Friend Can Do Anything You Can Do is an African American children’s book for all ages that celebrates tolerance and acceptance. This story features a young deaf girl and her hearing friend who convey a tale about the misunderstandings of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. This book helps readers to clearly understand that deaf people can do the same tasks that others can do. In essence, My Deaf Friend Can Do Anything You Can Do helps to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing community by giving a better, more accurate understanding of a deaf person’s life, abilities, and talents. Besides, this story also highlights aspects of bullying and promotes empathy for all. Throughout this book, readers will notice different sign language signs as they read. This book encourages others to learn sign language and open their minds and hearts to the beauty of diversity!

Superpower: Deafness

9. Oh'Charles This Disability

By: Bunny Meighan

Highlights children living with physical disabilities, turning a disability into a super Ability!

Superpower: Physical Disability

10. Squilly Fixes the List in the Mist: A Story About Number Sequence

By Tashia Beauty

Squilly is a chicken with an extraordinary gift and love for numbers. Although he looks like the other chickens, he is different in his capabilities with numbers. Squilly represents many children today that have been diagnosed with Autism. This beginner reader will help early readers learn about number sequence as well as, teach them that all children have special gifts. Learning about Squlliy’s gift also includes comprehension questions to ensure that comprehension skills are being introduced in the early stages of reading.

Superpower: Autism Spectrum Disorder

11. The Hoopstar

By: Chavon D. White

The Hoopstar was inspired by the true story of a twelve-year-old girl who’s always had a love for basketball. It was where she shined the most. Brylane knew how to master plays and how to outthink her opponent on the court, but she struggled with another opponent off the court . . . Dyslexia.

Superpower: Dyslexia

12. The Diary of Susie Lou and Little Beep Beep at the Park

By: Leslie Craig, Alena Craig

Susie Lou loves her special needs little brother who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Their parents took them to the park for a cookout. Kids on the playground made fun of Little Beep Beep on how he acts differently then other children. Susie Lou decided to do something about it by standing up for her little brother the only way she knows how.

Superpower: Autism Spectrum Disorder

13. The Steam Chasers: The Blackness of Space

By: Doreasa Jennings

The STEAM Chasers are back with another exciting adventure into the world of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. This time they are headed to Space Camp for an action-packed journey into Space Exploration. While there, Shar, Terrence, Ebony, Akiya, Marcus, and Chase learn about the contributions Black Americans have made to space science, human space flight, astrophysics, astronomy, and aerospace engineering. Ebony has been waiting what seemed like her entire life to have a Space Camp experience; will an unfortunate encounter with someone who is clearly not a fan of the STEAM Chasers ruin her dream come true? Come along with the STEAM Chasers and learn about twenty Black Americans who have helped to expand our understanding of the universe in which we live. Open the pages and dive headfirst into the Blackness of Space!

Superpower: Dyslexia, Anxiety

14. When I was the greatest

By: Jason Reynolds

In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut that Publishers Weekly calls “a funny and rewarding read” captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.

A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.

Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble—and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.

And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.

Yeah, it’s cool…until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be…somewhere they never should've been—where the people aren’t so friendly, and even less forgiving.

Superpower: Tourette Syndrom

15. Dr. Dyslexia Dude

By: Dr. Shawn & Inshirah Robinson

(graphic novel) 

Doctor Dyslexia Dude is a compelling story of an African-American boy who is also a colorful superhero with dyslexia.

The capped character is autobiographically based on the painful, early life experiences of Dr. Shawn Anthony Robinson. Robinson and his co-author, Mrs. Inshirah Robinson RN, are parents who say their goal is to empower students in Special Education to stay encouraged and know they too can achieve greatness!

These stories are designed to open the mind of young students with dyslexia to the possibilities life offers – all while living a worthwhile, productive, and successful life. Overall, Dr. Dyslexia Dude is and exciting, colorful, often humorous, and relevant source of hope and inspiration for kids, parents, and teachers.

Superpower: Dyslexia

Leave a comment and let me know which books caught your eye and how your child felt after reading the book.

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