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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book #13 Ballerina Dreams

A charming, truly beautiful story. The photographs and text bring out the girls' emotions as well as the reader's. Elementary school students would benefit by having this book shared with them. Highly recommended.

Related Information
Ballerina Dreams
A true story
Lauren Thompson
James Estrin
New York Times photographer and Lens Blog editor  http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/author/james-estrin/
Feiwel and Friends
An imprint of Holtzbrinck Publishers
Year of Pub:

ISBN:     (ISBN-13)

Age range

Type of Disability
Cerebral Palsy

Fiction or Nonfiction

Category:  A, B

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 whose focus is not necessarily the disability

Annotation:  Ballerina Dreams is the true story of five little girls ranging in age from three to seven who have the dream of being ballerinas and dancing on stage. The girls’ situation is unique because they all have Cerebral Palsy (one has Erb’s Palsy), a condition which causes their muscles to work differently from the way other people’s muscles work. Most of the girls need support to stand and walk. Joann Ferrara, a physical therapist and the girls’ ballet teacher, helps them make their dream come true.  The girls’ helpers, who range in age from eleven to sixteen, also play a big role in fulfilling the girls’ ballerina dreams. The excitement mounts as the performance nears. Clear, simple text and sensitive photography capture the young ballerinas’ intense feelings as they reach their dream.
Link to publisher:

Links to professional reviews:
(Click the link—Amazon--and scroll down to see editorial reviews.)
If you know of any rewards this book has received, please leave me a messge.

Standards for Quality Portrayal of Characters with a disability
1. Promotes empathy not pity
When we see the girls’ excitement and nervousness in their faces, we identify with them and want them to succeed.
2. Promotes acceptance, not ridicule

3. Emphasizes success rather than, or in addition to failure
 Absolutely. These girls are successful at what they are trying to achieve—dancing and performing.
4. Promotes positive images of persons with disabilities or illness
The photographs and accompanying text allow us to see these girls in a totally positive light.
5. Assists children in gaining accurate understanding of the disability or illness
The narrative gives detail of how Cerebral Palsy manifests itself in terms of the limitations in movement of muscles.
6. Demonstrates respect for persons with disabilities or illness
 The helpers, though very important, stay behind the dancers and allow the dancers to shine. Respect is conveyed just by virtue of the fact that the opportunity exists for these girls to fulfill their dream of being dancers.
7. Promotes attitude of “one of us” not “one of them.”

8. Uses people-first language

9. Describes the disability or person with disabilities or illness as realistic (not subhuman or superhuman)
The photographs can’t help but capture the realism in this book. It’s right there for the reader to see.
10. Depicts people with disabilities as more similar to than different from other people
These girls want to have the opportunity to perform just like their peers.
11. Shows peoples’ strengths and abilities along with their disabilities
The girls’ motivation and determination are apparent as they overcome their difficulties in movement to dance on stage.
12. Represents characters as strong, independent people who others can admire or learn from
The dancers’ hard work and dedication is emphasized.
13. Represents people with disabilities from different racial and cultural backgrounds, religions, age groups, and sexual orientations
The dancers are ethnically diverse and range in age from three to seven.
14. Shows people with disabilities in integrated settings and activities
Since all of the girls portrayed need assistance standing and walking, they are in a special dance class for children with motor disabilities.
15. Shows people with disabilities in valued occupations and diverse roles.

16. Shows people with disabilities in reciprocal relationships
The girls have special relationships with their young helpers (who range in age from eleven to sixteen). Their relationships with their families are also shown.
17. Main character develops and grows emotionally as a result of what happens in the story
To some extent because they have made their dreams come true.
The five girls have equal status in the book.

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