Please welcome my guest author today, Sivan Hong! She is the author and illustrator of the Super Fun Day Book series.
We interviewed her on her neurodiverse picture book series on our Multicultural Children’s Book Day Instagram Live series. Her books are wonderful conversation starters to discuss children with neurodiversity. Additionally, her picture books normalize neurodiverse children.
Emily D. and the Fearful First Day by Sivan Hong
The first day of school can be both exciting and filled with anxiety. For Emily D., she is worried about making new friends. Her dad assures her that this will be a great adventure, but she does not agree! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Benny J. and the Horrible Halloween by Sivan Hong
Not everyone thinks the Halloween parade at school will be fun. Benny J. worries that no one will like his costume, or the parade will be too loud, or that everyone will stare at him. Neurodiverse and neurotypical kids all have these same anxieties and this picture book is great to model empathy and understanding, and that we are more alike than different! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
George and the Miserable Monday by Sivan Hong
Everyone can relate to not loving Monday, with the return to the structure of the workweek. For George J., he’s worried about going back to school after a really fun weekend. What if recess is canceled? Who is he going to play with? What if he misses his family? All kids can relate to not wanting the weekend to end. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
We are giving away all three signed Super Fun Day Books! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom.
Before we dive into my book list, why don’t we start with a definition of neurodiversity? It’s a question I get a lot.
Neurodiversity is a science-based concept that says that brain/learning differences, like Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, etc. are biologically normal or mainstream. It frames the challenges that come with neurodiversity as differences instead of framing them as deficits.
This approach is especially important for children. It helps them identify the strengths associated with various brain/learning differences and reduces the stigma associated with those differences. By recognizing these dynamics, teachers can work to incorporate instructional approaches that may be better suited for these types of learners, which in turn can lead to greater learning. Examples of how educators may try to tailor the learning environment include:
- Having students with greater sensitivity to noise wear headphones
- Allowing students to use a fidget toy or seat them in a different type of chair
- Involve specialists who either come into the classroom or pull kids out to work with them individually
Finally, it’s important to recognize that neurodiversity manifests in many forms. For example, many people understand that Autism is expressed on a spectrum – meaning that it manifests itself differently in different people. However, many don’t realize the same is true for other types of neurodiversity.
While the books below show a sample of neurodiverse characters, they are not reflective of everyone with neurodiversity. They are, however, a great place to start having conversations with your kids about neurodiversity and brain differences.
My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Based on a true story of twins, this picture book explores Autism through the eyes of a sibling. I love how the narrator shares her view of her Autistic brother by highlighting their similarities and differences. She understands the notion that saying “I love you” does not always happen verbally but is demonstrated by the profound connection she has with her brother. This book is wonderfully affirmational because while it addresses some of the challenges around Autism, its message is so positive. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Crow Boy by Taro Yashima
Being different can be hard in any culture. Crow Boy is the story of how a little Japanese boy’s differences are misjudged by his classmates, and he is shunned. A teacher recognizes his strengths and the book has a happy ending. This picture book is magical and is a great tool for discussing differences with your child. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
The Curiosities by Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Phil Lesnie
Using the folklore of the Philippines, author Zana Fraillon draws parallels between the tricksters and ghouls from oral tradition with Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological condition that her son was born with. Miro, the little boy in the story, is pulled and affected by The Curiosities that show him things other people don’t notice but also make him act differently. Elders from his village guide him away from the noise and confusion caused by The Curiosities, and it is this bond with his community that sustains him. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
This book has it all – two outcasts, Joe and Ravi, who find out that sticking together is much easier than standing alone against a bully. This book helps kids understand the challenges of being an immigrant, having ADHD, and experiencing bullying while also being filled with humor and very relatable characters. It’s worth noting that while the book itself is a great read, the audiobook version is particularly outstanding because of the character acting. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Get a Grip, Vivi Cohen by Sarah Kapit
This is a humorous yet emotional story about an Autistic girl, Vivi, who plays baseball on a boys team. The brilliance of this story is that it is structured through letters, which allows the reader to authentically feel Vivi’s experience. You understand the perspective of being a middle school Autistic girl through the lens in which she actually sees the world, not just the way others see her. (Note: Sarah Kapit is an Autistic author and neurodiversity advocate.) [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
While the next book is not about neurodiversity, it is about the beauty in accepting differences – this story makes me so happy, I just had to include it.
One Third Nerd by Gennifer Choldenko
Liam is in 5th grade with two younger sisters – Dakota who proudly identifies as a nerd and Izzy who has Down Syndrome. This book tackles issues of poverty, friendship, divorce, and differences. I loved sharing this story with my children because of how positively Izzy and Down Syndrome are portrayed. She is the hero of the story and will make everyone want to join the 47s (the name of the club of kids with Down Syndrome referencing the number of their chromosomes). [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Hacking the Code: The Ziggety Zaggety Road of a D-Kid by Geo Meijering, illustrated by Mads Johan Øgaard
Filled with funny school humor, this is the story of a 5th grade Dyslexic boy, whose trouble-making antics make this a real page-turner for even the most reluctant young reader. What makes this book so special is that it teaches kids about Dyslexia and neurodiversity without them even knowing it – it’s just a fun read. Dyslexic kids will love seeing themselves in this story and all kids will walk away with a greater understanding of Dyslexia. [parenting book]
3 Signed Super Fun Day Book GIVEAWAY!
We are giving away all three of the Super Fun Day Book series! And they are all signed books! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. We can only mail to U.S. and A.F.O. addresses due to the high cost of shipping.
Sivan Hong authors and illustrates the children’s book series The Super Fun Day Books, including “Benny J. and the Horrible Halloween”, “George J. and the Miserable Monday” and “Emily D. and the Fearful First Day”. Her inspiring books focus on neurodiverse children, who overcome their challenges with perseverance and bravery. Sivan also serves as a Trustee on the Boards of the Westport Public Library, the Rita Allen Foundation, and the ASPCA.
When she’s not working, Sivan enjoys being a wife to her lovely husband and a mother to their two wonderful children. They have a dog and cat and live a quiet and contented life in their home in Connecticut. Learn more about Sivan by checking out her website and following her on Facebook and Instagram.
p.s. Related posts:
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.