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Celebrating Neurodiversity in Books

Neurodiversity is recognizing the diversity of the human mind. It is the understanding that every brain varies in structure and function and as a result, we all process information differently. This is especially important when we consider people with diverse learning needs such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism.

Celebrating neurodiversity means changing the language from learning disability to learning difference. This also means acknowledging that many gifted, talented, and creative individuals are able to “think outside the box” because they have the ability to think differently. Being aware of these differences helps us to understand ourselves and each other.

This list below highlights books that feature characters with diverse learning styles and unique learning differences.


Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Amazon Says: The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives listeners an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong more...
Amazon Says: The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives listeners an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.   “Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”   Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike. less...
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Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
Emily J. Says: Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
Amazon Says: Little Trisha is overjoyed at the thought of starting school and learning how to read. But when she looks at a book, all the letters and numbers just get jumbled up. Her class more...
Amazon Says: Little Trisha is overjoyed at the thought of starting school and learning how to read. But when she looks at a book, all the letters and numbers just get jumbled up. Her classmates make matters worse by calling her ?dummy.? Only Mr. Falker, a stylish, fun-loving new teacher, recognizes Trisha?s incredible artistic ability?and her problem, and takes the time to lead her finally and happily to the magic of reading. This autobiographical story is close to author Patricia Polacco?s heart. It is her personal song of thanks to teachers like Mr. Falker, who quietly but surely change the lives of the children they teach. Patricia Polacco lives in Union City, MI. less...
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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Emily J. Says: Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller. An AMAZON Best Book of the Year 2013.  A Kids' Indie Next List Top Ten Book-- #4, Best Books of Autumn 2013.  B.E.A. Buzz Book Award 2013. more...
Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller. An AMAZON Best Book of the Year 2013.  A Kids' Indie Next List Top Ten Book-- #4, Best Books of Autumn 2013.  B.E.A. Buzz Book Award 2013.  A Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee 2014-2015 Master List.  A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.  An E.B. White Read Aloud Honor Book. A Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Nominee.  A National Public Radio Best Book of the Year. In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family. Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn't kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.   Suddenly Willow's world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read. "In achingly beautiful prose, Holly Goldberg Sloan has written a delightful tale of transformation that's a celebration of life in all its wondrous, hilarious and confounding glory. Counting by 7s is a triumph."--Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette "Holly Goldberg Sloan writes about belonging in a way I've never quite seen in any other book. This is a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming novel that I'll never forget."--John Corey Whaley, author of Where Things Come Back "Willow Chance subtly drew me into her head and her life, so much so that I was holding my breath for her by the end. Holly Goldberg Sloan has created distinct characters who will stay with you long after you finish the book."--Sharon Creech, Newbery Award-winning author of Walk Two Moons   less...
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The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Amazon Says: Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could ha more...
Amazon Says: Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends -- one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena -- Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. less...
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Emily J. Says: The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses by Barbara
Amazon Says: Katie always thought her dad was smart; he is one of the busiest attorneys in town! People are always asking him for advice! She has been a bit confused since asking him for h more...
Amazon Says: Katie always thought her dad was smart; he is one of the busiest attorneys in town! People are always asking him for advice! She has been a bit confused since asking him for help with her weekly spelling list. How can her very smart dad struggle with one of her spelling words? This definitely didn't make sense. the word Mississippi has changes everything... Book Series Endorsements: "It is hard to overstate how much better children are served if they believe, rightly, that their efforts to improve academically actually make a difference. Research by Dr. Carol Dweck and colleagues has shown, in impressive detail, that children's beliefs about the nature of intelligence--as being either malleable or fixed--can greatly impact both their attitude towards learning and their academic achievement. It is far better to believe in a malleable rather than a fixed notion of intelligence. Thus it is a delight to see books like the present one put much needed, and scientifically credible, tools in the hands of educators, parents, and children." Dr. Jeremy Gray, Yale University Professor of Psychology "The Mainstream Connections book series teaches that challenges and differences are part of the spice of life, not something to hide or fear. Each child in the series faces a challenge that makes him or her feel different and maybe not as good as other kids. Young readers will learn the value of facing challenges directly, and to respect everyone's unique challenges. Success comes from practice and improvement, especially on the things that are hardest to do." Dr. Brian Nosek, University of Virginia Professor of Psychology The Mainstream Connections Children's Book Series conveys a message that could have been lifted straight from a psychology research journal: there is more than one way to define being smart . As these stories illustrate, for every person, large and small, there are skills that are relatively difficult to master and others that seem to come more naturally. These books emphasize the important empirical conclusion that just as regular exercise makes the body stronger, so, too, does practice and the effort to improve academically--with all the struggle, fatigue, and initial failure that it entails--allow people to capitalize on the malleable nature of human intelligence. Dr. Samuel R. Sommers, Tufts University Professor of Psychology I applaud Barbara Esham for finding a way to teach young children how to be more mindful. In so doing, she sets the stage for their greater well-being as adults. Dr. Ellen Langer, Harvard University Professor of Psychology This is a wonderful book series. Each story shows children that success is about effort and determination, that problems need not derail them, and that adults can understand their worries and struggles. My research demonstrates that these lessons are essential for children. Dr. Carol S. Dweck, Stanford University Professor of Psychology "If You're So Smart How Come You Can't Spell Mississippi? is a fantastic way of bringing this information to the many smart children who find reading and spelling especially difficult--and especially to those who are beginning to doubt their own potential." Drs. Brock (M.D., M.A.) and Fernette (M.D.) Learning Experts As consultants, the Eides are international and national professional advisors for organizations such as SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted). less...
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Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Emily J. Says: Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Amazon Says: Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it's just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understan more...
Amazon Says: Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it's just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does. Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoneixBird-her name is Rebecca-could be his first real friend. But as desperate as Jason is to met her, he's terrified that if they do meet, Rebecca wil only see his autism and not who Jason really is. By acclaimed writer Nora Raleigh Baskin, this is the breathtaking depiction of an autistic boy's struggles-and a story for anyone who has ever worried about fitting in. Book Details:Format: HardcoverPublication Date: 3/24/2009Pages: 208Reading Level: Age 10 and Up less...
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