Jweb Good Book Guide

Looking for a good read? Have a browse through our round-up of some of our favourite special needs parenting books…Please let us know your recommendations to share with our jweb community.

Also check out our Jweb Reads page - there are lots of books out there to help when caring for someone with learning disability. To help you find out which ones are best, our jweb review panel got hard at work on some of the latest releases.

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Idenitity, Andrew Soloman, Vintage, 2014

Sometimes your child - the most familiar person of all - is radically different from you. The saying goes that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But what happens when it does?

Drawing on interviews with over three hundred families, covering subjects including deafness, dwarfs, Down's Syndrome, Autism, Schizophrenia, disability, prodigies, children born of rape, children convicted of crime and transgender people, Andrew Solomon documents ordinary people making courageous choices. Difference is potentially isolating, but Far from the Tree celebrates repeated triumphs of human love and compassion to show that the shared experience of difference is what unites us.

Gemina the Crooked Neck Giraffe, Karen Winnick, Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens, 2013

Gemina stood out from the other giraffes at the Santa Barbara Zoo. She was the famous crooked-neck giraffe. Everyone who saw her wondered if she was all right? Did her neck hurt? As months passed, Gemina's neck leaned more and more to the side but it never seemed to bother her. Gemina didn't let her difference stop her from doing anything the other giraffes did. Told with affection and illustrated with oil paintings, this is Gemina's story, a celebration of the life of a very special giraffe. ALL proceeds from the sales of this book were generously donated by the author and go directly to support the animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Just Like You, Emily Dunfin (Self published)

Just Like You is about a little boy getting ready for his first day of pre-school. You will meet his mommy, big brother and sister and also some of the animals on his farm and oh yes, you will learn about his trach. Mommy and big sister go to school and explain to the children about Slade's trach. The kids ask questions and mommy answers in easy to understand language. Why does it sound like that, can he eat, can he talk, etc. The kids not only learn about a trach, but they also learn a very valuable lesson, though I may look different on the outside, I'm Just Like You on the inside. 

This hard cover, beautifully illustrated book was written because of the need for all kids, as well as adults, to learn about the tracheostomy. Whether your child has a trach or if you just want your child to learn about others this is a very cute and meaningful book.

Life Strategies for Teens, Jay McGraw, Simon & Schuster, 2001

From the son of Dr. Phil McGraw comes Life Strategies for Teens, the New York Times bestselling guide to teenage success, and the first guide to teenage life that won’t tell you what to do, or who to be, but rather how to live life best.

Are you as tired as I am of books constantly telling you about doing your best to understand your parents, doing your homework, making curfew, getting a haircut, dropping that hemline, and blah, blah, blah? —Jay McGraw, from the Introduction

Well, you don’t have to be anymore! Employing the techniques from Dr. Phillip C. McGraw’s Life Strategies, his son Jay provides teens with the Ten Laws of Life, which make the journey to adulthood an easier and more fulfilling trip. Whether dealing with the issues of popularity, peer pressure, ambition, or ambivalence, Life Strategies for Teens is an enlightening guide to help teenagers not only stay afloat, but to thrive during these pivotal years.

Whether you are a teen looking for a little help, or a parent or grandparent wanting to provide guidance, this book tackles the challenges of adolescence like no other. Combining proven techniques for dealing with life’s obstacles and the youth and wit of writer Jay McGraw, Life Strategies for Teens is sure to improve the lives of all who read it.

Living Well with my Serious Illness, Marge Eaton Heegaard, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2003

An art therapy book helping children cope with the early stages of a serious illness.

Right Under My Nose: A Story for Children with Spina Bifida, Claire Austin

This book is designed to help young children with spina bifida understand their condition and discover new ways to enrich their lives. Parents and caregivers often wonder when and how to talk about sensitive issues with their child. This book provides you with just such an opportunity.

Sibling Slam Book: What It's Really Like to Have a Brother or Sister with Special Needs, Dan Meyer, Woodbine House Inc, 2004

Give teenagers a chance to say what's on their minds, and you might be surprised by what you hear. That's exactly what Don Meyer, creator of Sibshops and author of "Views From Our Shoes" did when he invited together a group of 80 teenagers, from all over the United States and abroad, to talk about what it's like to have a brother or sister with special needs. Their unedited words are found in here, a brutally honest, non-PC look at the lives, experiences, and opinions of siblings without disabilities. Formatted like the slam books passed around in many junior high and high schools, this one poses a series of 50 personal questions along the lines of: "What should we know about you?"; "What do you tell your friends about your sib's disability?"; "What's the weirdest question you have ever been asked about your sib?"; "If you could change one thing about your sib (or your sib's disability) what would it be?"; "What annoys you most about how people treat your sib?" The book doesn't "slam" in the traditional sense of the word. The tone and point-of-view of the answers are all over the map.

Some answers are assuredly positive, a few are strikingly negative, but most reflect the complex and conflicted mix of emotions that come with the territory. Whether they read it cover to cover or sample it at random, teenagers will surely find common ground among these pages and reassurance that they are not alone. It is a book that parents, friends, and counsellors can feel confident recommending to any teenager with a brother or sister with a disability.

Stop Picking on Me, A First Look at Bullying, Pat Thomas, Wayland, 2000

Stop Picking On Me looks at the causes and the effects of both physical and verbal bullying and encourages communication of fears and worries to those that can help.

Taking Down Syndrome to School, Jenna Glatzer, Jayjo Books 2002

This beautifully illustrated and fun-to-read storybook simplifies and normalizes a complicated childhood condition.. When read aloud, other children can identify why a peer may be treated differently and begin to empathize with them. In addition, children whose conditions set them apart as being different begin to feel accepted and safe. Each book includes a Kids' Quiz to reinforce new information and Ten Tips for Teachers to provide additional facts and ideas for teacher use. In Taking Down Syndrome to School, Nick's story explains what Down Syndrome is and how it affects children born with it.