Today is World Down syndrome Day – March 21st, a day that celebrates people who were born with three copies of the 21st chromosome. Admittedly, I did not know much about Down syndrome as a child or as an adult. It wasn’t until my family was faced with the diagnosis firsthand that I took the time to learn more about this community, what makes individuals with Down syndrome a little different, and most importantly – all of the ways they are just like you and me.
One of the very best places to start introducing our kids to other children with Down syndrome is in the comfort of your own home. Allowing them to boldly dialogue and ask questions gives them the agency to be curious about Down syndrome. Not only is it informative, but it opens up the conversation to ask about other ways people around them can be different – and why that makes us all special.
Below, I have rounded up a list of some of our family’s favorite children’s books that center around great characters with Down syndrome. A majority of these reads are written by mothers who have children with Down syndrome, giving the perspective a unique and personal touch. No matter how old your children are, it is never too early or too late to introduce the concept of inclusion and acceptance. My hope is that these books can be used as a continuous tool for your family as your children grow!
- Eli, Included by Michelle Sullivan: Follow Eli, a sweet boy with Down syndrome as he navigates his first day of school. This is an easy read for little ones or great in a preschool classroom.
- Different – A Great Thing To Be! By Heather Avis and Sarah Mensinga: An amazing book that spotlights a little girl named Macy who teaches those around her how to recognize, celebrate and embrace the differences we see in ourselves.
- Hannah’s Down syndrome Super Powers by Lori Leigh Yarborough: Written by a mom and pediatric physical therapist, this is an excellent book for grade school-aged kids. Lori provides a visual lesson on chromosomes, encouraging phrases to use, and even sign language tips.
- 47 Strings: Tessa’s Special Code by Becky Carey: Written for her son following her daughter Tessa’s birth, Becky helps explain Tessa’s Down syndrome diagnosis in the most comfortable and heartfelt way.
- You Are Enough – A Book About Inclusion by Margaret O’Hair & Sofia Sanchez: Inspired by twelve-year-old model/actress/influencer Sofia Sanchez, this book empowers children to feel confident in who they are and to build up others around them. This is another great read for grade school-aged kids, as it centers around the main theme that we all belong, no matter what that looks like.