Disability and Difference in Literature

This week I read Girls Like Us, El Deafo, “The Real Deal: Teen Characters with Autism in YA Novels,” “Inclusive Literature in the Library and the Classroom,” and “Book Therapy: The Power of Picture Books for an Inclusive Classroom.”

El Deafo was such a fun book, it’s comic strip vibe made the characters more entertaining and interesting. The depictions of the background characters to CeCe’s hearing loss seemed so relatable because this seems to be the default when people don’t understand what we are saying. We get loud, we slow things down and we talk with our hands but typically not in a way that helps describe what we are saying any better. This was a beautiful insight into one person’s experience growing up with and later without hearing. This would be a wonderful addition to any library but especially in schools for inclusion and diversity. It is important for children to learn about disabilities so they can either find themselves in the books or so that they can understand people they may come across.

    Girls Like Us was a powerful and heartbreaking but wonderful book. Biddy and Quincy were part of the Special Education program at their school and are paired to live together after they graduate. They are very opposite in personality but they learn and grow together through experiences, living with one another and their friend Lizbeth. Each of these girls goes through a very traumatic experience and they deal with it differently but they find a commonality that brings them so much further in their own paths. This is a book that is good for understanding disability, bullying, sexual assault and more. It would be a great addition to a high school or public library; it would promote inclusion and diversify the library’s collection.

Each of the articles were enjoyable and brought great advice and insight into disabilities and literature. I thought there were some ideas that highlighted the fact that a child in the classroom or school has a disability and I think it would be best to work it into regular lesson plans. I think highlighting difference makes the person you are trying to include feel more isolated. I like the idea of “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” because you could present a variety of differences and disabilities for everyone to get a small window of insight into what it is like everyday for others. I think other exercises to include with readings would be having speakers come visit the classroom or library, incorporating volunteer events, and open dialogue always helps. I agree that having characters with disabilities are important because , like I have said in previous weeks, everyone should be able to find themselves in a book. They should be able to find their similarities and understanding in a book even if they cannot always find it in the real world. It is important to review these books as you would any other. You should find books that are well received by the disabled community with realistic and accurate characters.

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