Welcome to Picture Books for All

Children of all abilities should see themselves in the books they read. That's what makes reading fun. There are many picture books that include characters with disabilities; some are excellent in terms of their portrayal of these characters, some are pretty good, and some miss the mark. This blog features these picture books and evaluates them based on standards for quality in children's books that portray characters with disabilities. For more information, see the first post entitled "Welcome to Picture Books for All." (Click here) Welcome to Picture Books For All

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book #10 Jeremy's Dreidel

This book is a gentle introduction to the subject of blindness and Braille in a
Jewish context. It meets almost all of the standards for good literature that
portrays characters with disabilities.
Related Information
Name of Book:
Jeremy’s Dreidel
Ellie Gellman
Maria Mola
Year of Pub:
ISBN:     (ISBN-13)
Age range
Type of Disability
Fiction or Nonfiction
Category:  C

A) books that provide factual information about a disability

B) books that provide information about a disability in a story format in which the character with a disability is integral to the plot

C) books that provide stories that have a character with a disability who may or may not be integral to the storyline and who has been added to the story to achieve diversity and reflect reality

D) books that include a main character with a disability, but the focus of the book is not necessarily the disability

Annotation:  Jeremy attends a dreidel-making workshop at the JCC and decides to make a Braille dreidel for his father, who is blind. The other children have creative ideas as well but are very interested in Jeremy’s dreidel.  They ask Jeremy a lot of questions about his father, including what he does all day and how he manages to do the things that other people do. Jeremy’s answers, which include how his father uses technology, surprise the other children. Jeremy requests not to have his dreidel displayed in a glass case even though it has been voted one of three dreidels to be displayed.  He explains that his father cannot see the dreidel, and if it is behind glass, he will not be able to play with it either. The children decide to invite people to play with their dreidels during the JCC Hanukkah party. Jeremy’s father is pictured in the illustrations having fun at the party with Jeremy and the other children. Information about Hanukkah is woven into the story.
Link to publisher:
Links to professional reviews:

Standards for Quality Portrayal of Characters with a disability
1. Promotes empathy not pity
Jeremy’s descriptions along with the gentle illustrations portray Jeremy’s father as capable of doing everything.
2. Promotes acceptance, not ridicule
3. Emphasizes success rather than, or in addition to failure
Jeremy’s father is active in the community and is a very effective parent. He uses a cane and a small GPS device to get around.
4. Promotes positive images of persons with disabilities or illness
5. Assists children in gaining accurate understanding of the disability or illness
Helps children realize that someone who can’t see can still function well with the help of physical and technological supports.
6. Demonstrates respect for persons with disabilities or illness
7. Promotes attitude of “one of us” not “one of them.”
Jeremy’s father sings in the JCC choir.
8. Uses people-first language
“The dots are called Braille. It’s a way of reading for blind people.” People-first language would be, “for people who are blind.”
9. Describes the disability or person with disabilities or illness as realistic (not subhuman or superhuman)
10. Depicts people with disabilities as more similar to than different from other people
“Jeremy’s father goes to work, just like your mom and dad.”
11. Shows peoples’ strengths and abilities along with their disabilities
The book shows Jeremy’s father’s excellent sense of hearing, his ability to use computers, his good parenting abilities, and the fact that he participates in the community.
12. Represents characters as strong, independent people who others can admire or learn from
13. Represents people with disabilities from different racial and cultural backgrounds, religions, age groups, and sexual orientations
Jeremy's father is the one with a disability. He is a Jewish man.
14. Shows people with disabilities in integrated settings and activities
Jeremy’s father is shown at the Hanukkah party interacting with the children.
15. Shows people with disabilities in valued occupations and diverse roles.
Jeremy’s father sings in the choir and goes to work.
16. Shows people with disabilities in reciprocal relationships
17. Main character develops and grows emotionally as a result of what happens in the story
No, but this is not necessary for the plot. Jeremy comes into this story knowing he is going to make a Braille dreidel for his father.

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