Children’s Books Honored For Disability Storylines
Three books are being honored for their portrayal of the disability experience through a special set of awards given alongside the well-known Caldecott and Newbery Medals.
The winners of this year’s Schneider Family Book Awards include tales of a boy who stutters, a girl with autism and young adults with intellectual disabilities during transition.
The Schneider awards are presented annually by the American Library Association to authors or illustrators for the “artistic expression of the disability experience.” One award is given for works aimed at each of three audiences — kids up to age 8, those ages 9 to 13 and teens.
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In the youngest category, writer Alan Rabinowitz and illustrator Catia Chien won for their book “A Boy and a Jaguar,” about a young boy who stutters uncontrollably except when he talks to animals.
Ann M. Martin’s “Rain Reign” received the middle school award for depicting the life of a girl with autism who must break her routine in order to find her beloved dog who goes missing when a storm hits town.
“Martin creates an authentic portrayal of a young girl on the autism spectrum. In getting to know this resilient character, readers’ misconceptions about this disability will be altered,” said Alyson Beecher, chair of the Schneider Family Book Award.
Gail Giles won in the teen category for her book “Girls Like Us,” which follows two very different young women with disabilities who become roommates after completing a high school special education program.
“In this surprisingly gripping novel, readers gain insight into the challenges of young adults with intellectual disabilities. Through an unlikely friendship, two young women gain empowerment, independence and family,” Beecher said.
The awards were announced this week at the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting in Chicago.
At the same time, the organization said this year’s Newbery Medal for children’s literature will go to Kwame Alexander for “The Crossover” and the Caldecott Medal for picture books will honor Dan Santat for “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend.”
Each of the Schneider recipients will receive $5,000 and a framed plaque at the library association’s annual conference in San Francisco in June.