Everyone Is Different: 7 Children’s Books that Help Explain How

Kids are naturally curious about what makes people different, but sometimes adults fumble for the right words. These books might help.

By Kelli Fitzpatrick
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    Knees: The Mixed-Up World of a Boy With Dyslexia by Vanita Oelschlager

    In this comprehensive tale, the narrator experiences his dyslexia (“Words come out backwards and I don’t know why”), accepts his condition, and finally embraces his special talents. As further encouragement, famous people with dyslexia are called out, such as Walt Disney and Henry Ford. With single-sentence pages, an especially readable font, and simple illustrations, this book seems well designed for a child with dyslexia, although other young readers should appreciate the format too. Find the book »

    Best Friend on Wheels by Debra Shirley

    In this picture book, a child in a wheelchair and one who is not find out they are more alike than they are different. The girls bond through common interests like rock collecting, scrapbooking, and painting, and the narrator learns to see her friend as a person first, then as someone who cannot walk—not the other way around. Find the book »

    Some Kids Wear Leg Braces by Lola M. Schaefer

    In the "Understanding Differences" series, the individual titles use actual photos and simple concepts to educate kids about a physical disability (needing a wheelchair, being blind or deaf, and others). “Some kids who wear leg braces are born with weak bones or muscles…Some kids who wear leg braces use walkers or crutches.” At the heart of series is the message that, on the inside, we are all similar: “Kids who wear leg braces like to have fun.” Find the book »

    My Friend with Autism by Beverly Bishop

    The author's son has autism, and she wrote this illustrated book to educate her son’s classmates. “Just like me, my friend is good at playing,” the narrator says. “Sometimes he plays differently than I do, so I watch the way he plays and then I try to do what he is doing, right next to him.” He goes on: “Understanding other people’s feelings is hard for my friend…[W]hen my friend sees a person crying, he may not understand what it means.” Along with the book is material for grown-ups explaining strategies for helping an autistic child, and more. Find the book »

    Be Good to Eddie Lee by Virginia Fleming

    When her mother advises Christy to be nice to neighbor Eddie Lee, who has Down Syndrome, she chooses to avoid him instead. But when she and a friend let Eddie Lee join them, he helps her see his special ways of having fun. First published a decade ago, this simple tale of differences still captivates readers today. Find the book »

    Erik the Red Sees Green by Julie Anderson

    Red-headed Erik is a creative kid who struggles with homework and soccer practice. When he paints a self-portrait with green hair, his parents and teachers realize he is colorblind. Erik works with a supportive teacher, family, and friends to make small changes that help him accept who he is. Find the book »

    Jacob's Eye Patch by Beth Kobliner Shaw and Jacob Shaw

    Jacob has an eye patch, but that is the least of his worries—he's on a mission to buy something special at the science store and along the way there are almost too many distractions. It's not until his quest is complete that he can stop to explain to a curious little girl: “When I was born, my left eye didn’t see as well as my right eye.” Readers learn that everyone has something that makes others curious, but that people don’t always want to discuss it. Find the book »

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