Blogger Renee Grassi

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month weeks ago, I was approached by PicPocket Books to write two reviews about some new picture book apps about children with Down Syndrome.  These picture books, My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson and We’ll Paint the Octopus Red by S.A. Bodeen, are two stories that do an excellent job promoting understanding and acceptance of differences.  Writing these reviews inspired me to see what other books libraries had in their collection with and about characters with Down Syndrome.  Here are some recommendations.

I Can, Can You? By Marjorie Pitzer – This board book features babies and toddlers with Down Syndrome eating spaghetti, sharing & playing ball.  Check out other titles in this series, including My Up & Down & All Around Book.

1 2 3 for You and Me by Meg Girnis – This simple counting book is illustrated with photos of children with Down syndrome and their friends admiring colorful objects that gradually increase in number to 20.

Kids Like Me…Learn ABCs by Laura Ronay – This book children with Down Syndrome and their siblings learning their ABCs.  The appealing photographs in this concept book make this a great book for any preschooler learning the alphabet.

How Smudge Came by Nan Gregory – Cindy is a young woman with Down Syndrome. Cindy finds a puppy on her way home from work, but she’s not allowed to have pets where she lives.  While many other stories about characters with Down Syndrome tell the story from the sibling or friend perspective, this story does a beautiful job telling the story as Cindy sees it.

My Friend Has Down Syndrome by Amanda Doering Tourville – This non-fiction series is written for an audience of typically developing children with the intent of building awareness and promoting tolerance to friends with disabilities.  Check out others in this series, including books about friends with autism and ADHD.

Willowood by Cecilia Galante – Eleven-year-old Lily has trouble leaving her best friend behind and moving to the city when her mother changes jobs, but she makes some very unlikely friends that soon become like family members.

Sophie Gets Real by Nancy Rue – Although Sophie’s faith is shaken after her baby sister is born with Down Syndrome and as she tries to help a troubled girl at her school, the other Corn Flakes and Dr. Peter are there to lend their support.




  1. Celeste

    Thanks for your post–a friend of mine and I were just talking about that very book by S.A. Bodeen. I told her about the digital version and she very excited to hear about it.

  2. Deb's mom

    When a friend cleaned out her bookshelf several years ago, she gave me a copy of “How Smudge Came,” thinking I’d appreciate it as a mother of child with Down syndrome.

    I did not.

    It is a book I would NEVER read to my child with Down syndrome, because it would not inspire her. If anything, it would probably discourage her to think that she could grow up to clean bedpans in a nursing home and live in a group home with uncaring house parents.

    It’s also a book I would never read to my other normal children or to any normal child because it does very little to raise positive awareness. It accentuates the differences in a person with Down syndrome’s life (Cindy does menial work and lives in a group home) rather than the similarities (Cindy is fairly independent, and she has a job that is meaningful to her).

    In Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we want to show the world that people with Down syndrome are “more alike than different.” This book does just the opposite.

  3. Renee

    Deb’s mom, I want to thank you for commenting on this post. As someone who advocates for children with disabilities in the library profession, I always look to parents like yourself to provide those of us without children with disabilities with a special insight. We librarians always encourage conversation, especially when it concerns children’s literature, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts about this book. This book had originally been included in this list because of the good reviews it had received from reputable literature review sources like Booklist, a book-review magazine public librarians use to help us select titles for purchase. But your comment reminds us in the library community that these reviews are subjective, especially when the reviews are not written by a person with direct experience with a person with special needs. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with the ALSC community.

  4. Claudia Marie Lenart

    Hi, I thought you might like to know about Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist by Jewel Kats

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