The Pirate of Kindergarten, special needs picture books, books for kids

Best Children’s Books about Kids with Disabilities

Best Books for Kids about Disabilities

The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a picture or chapter book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. I really like how these great picture and chapter books let kids walk in the shoes of another and I find the themes of “trying to fit in versus accepting themselves and their family members” to be universal for all children.

I have the entire list of winners below. What other books should be on this list? Please make suggestions!

Middle School 2011 Winner

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick 
Tells the story of Jeffrey who is free of cancer, but not the fallout from the treatment.  Tad, his cancer survivor buddy and he swap wisecracks as they cope with their “chemo-brain,” other cancer effects and typical 8th grade angst. I am personally a big fan of this YA chapter book!

2011 Winner Teen Book

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Dumb is not the name Piper, a high school senior who is Deaf, would have chosen for a heavy metal band, yet she volunteers to manage this disparate group of would-be musicians.  In her attempt to make Dumb profitable, Piper learns a few things about music and business, striking a chord within herself.

2011 Winner Young Children’s Book

The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Lynne Avril 
Ginny’s eyes play tricks and, in her world, there are two of everything.  Reading, math, and kindergarten activities are a challenge.  Wearing an eye patch turns her into the pirate of kindergarten, and glasses help bring her world into focus.  Whimsical mixed media illustrations cleverly convey Ginny’s experiences first hand.

Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin 2010 – Winner

Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan 2005 – Winner
Dad, Jackie, and Me by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Colin Bootman 2006 – Winner
The Deaf Musicians by Paul DuBois and Pete Seeger, illustrated by Gregory R. Christie  2007 – Winner
Django by Bonnie Christensen 2010 – Winner
Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby 2008 – Winner
Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen 2009 – Winner
Kami and the Yaks by Andrea Stenn Stryer, illustrated by Bert Dodson 2008 – Winner
Looking Out For Sarah by Glenna Lang 2004 – Winner
A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass 2004 – Winner
This is Wendy Mass’s first book and Judy Blume wrote, “From the moment I read a story by Wendy Mass I knew she was a writer to watch.” In this book, Mia Winchell has synesthesia; a condition in which sounds, numbers and words conjure up colors to her. It’s a secret that she’s been keeping since the third grade when she had a traumatic experience in front of the class at the chalkboard. Now, thirteen Mia learns that there are others with this same ability and learns to finally embrace this.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork 2010 – Winner
My Pal Victor/Mi amigo, Victor by Diane Gonzales, illustrated by Robert L. Sweetland 2005 – Winner
My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir by Samantha Abeel 2005 – Winner
Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum by Robert Andrew Parker 2009 – Winner
Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer 2008 – Winner
Rules by Cynthia Lord 2007 – Winner
Rules also won a Newbery Honor award! It’s one of our favorite books.
Small Steps by Louis Sachar 2007 – Winner
Tending to Grace by Kimberly Newton Fusco 2006 – Winner
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements 2004 – Winner
Under the Wolf, Under the Dog by Adam Rapp 2006 – Winner
Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor 2009 – Winner

To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

The Pirate of Kindergarten, special needs picture books, books for kids


By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Ann

    I wish there was a boy version of Pirate of Kindergarten! My son is a reluctant patch wearer. A Mango Shaped Space looks interesting too! Thanks for the list!

  2. Great list. I will review some of these books on my children’s book review blog. Thanks so much!

  3. This is a great list, I hadn’t heard of the Schneider Family book awards either. Thanks for sharing! #diversekidlit

  4. So great! Growing up with a chronic illness I always felt like a bit of a freak – the only kid I ever knew who had asthma was Piggy in Lord of the Flies, and he wasn’t exactly a great role model! I’m so glad that today’s kids have more opportunities to see kids they can relate to getting to star in their own stories! 🙂

  5. Sarah

    This is such a great list! I’m always looking for books about kids with chronic illnesses, especially rare ones, this gives me some starting places.

  6. These look fabulous! There are several that I’m not familiar with — thanks for bringing them to my attention!
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