Guest Blogger

Using the ALSC Mentoring Program to develop a Resource List

When Susan and I were paired together in the ALSC Mentoring Program, we both quickly discovered our mutual interest in serving children with disabilities in the library and shared experiences having a loved one on the Autism Spectrum. This mutual interest grew into a desire to collaborate on programming for children with special needs and their families and a resource list for librarians, teachers, parents, and other individuals looking to explore children’s literature about the disability experience.

Throughout the past two months, Susan and I have been working asynchronously on a resource list for parents and librarians to use to support education and library programming for children with disabilities, especially children on the Autism spectrum. We selected Google Drive as the location to store our collaborative resources (such as the resource list and blog drafts). While it was initially difficult and required multiple trial and error attempts, we were finally able to share editing abilities between the two of us.

Our approach to this resource list is two-fold. I have been preparing an annotated bibliography of books for children and families up to sixth grade about children with disabilities and siblings of children with disabilities. In addition, I have included a few resources for parents and caregivers of children with disabilities. I have organized the resources into sections based on the disability discussed in the text. Susan has been preparing an annotated bibliography of concept and picture books that could be used in a storytime designed with children on the Autism spectrum in mind. I have added some useful annotations to the concept / picture book section as well.

Our ultimate goal with this book list is to create a visually appealing resource for caregivers and librarians. We are currently exploring avenues for sharing our finished list, such as the ALSC listserv, ALSC blog, state library associations, and the possibility of co-presenting at a conference via skype. In the end, we want this resource to be shared among children’s librarians, teachers, parents, and any other individual interested in resources supporting children with disabilities.

While many of the resources we have added to our list are based on our professional experiences as librarians, we have also looked to outside lists and book awards. One of the first places we looked to for distinguished resources detailing the disability experience is the Schneider Family Book Award. This award is administered by ALA and is described on the official ALA Schneider Book Award page as a book award that “honor[s] an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” Recently at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia, the 2014 winners of the award were announced: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell, and A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Current and previous award winners as well as a detailed bibliography of children’s books about the disability experience are featured on the Schneider Family Book Award site and serve as a great launching point for exploring children’s and young adult literature featuring the disability experience.

Other groups have put together similar lists for children and adults exploring the disability experience. We have looked to these sources for new materials to add to our list as well as for reader’s advisory suggestions. Here are a few we have found most useful:

National Center for Learning Disabilities

New Jersey Division of Disability Services

S-Collection for Children’s and Young Adult Literature Blog at the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

West Georgia Regional Library System

University of Michigan Health System

As this project continues, we look forward to creating a thorough and updated bibliography of materials that can be used in a wide variety of ways in libraries: programs, reader’s advisory, outreach, and reference. If you have any materials that you would recommend for this project, please do not hesitate to reach out to Susan or myself. Susan and I both look forward to completing this resource and sharing it with each of you in the near future!


Photo courtesy of guest blogger
Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is JoAnna SchofieldJoAnna is a children’s librarian at the Akron-Summit County Public Library in downtown Akron, Ohio. She passionately enjoys her toddler, preschool, and school age outreach, baby time series, and school age science and technology programs. She is eagerly awaiting the start of 2014 and her new Tech Tuesdays school age programs. Along with her participation in the ALSC Mentoring Program, she has recently accepted appointment on the 2015 (Theodor Seuss) Geisel Book Award Committee. Her inspiration comes from her three beautiful children: Jackson (3), Parker (2), and Amelia Jane (10 months). She can be reached at

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at



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