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

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book #17 Back to Front And Upside Down!

This story is presumably about a child with dyslexia (and comes up when “dyslexia” is searched in the library database). The “resolution” of the problem is greatly oversimplified (ask for help, practice a lot, and everything will be fine). But the main message is to ask for help when you need it, and that is clearly conveyed. Taken on a more simple level, the story is about a child having a little trouble forming his letters and getting the necessary help from his teacher. There is not necessarily a disability here. The illustrations are delightful and the book attractive. Children will easily engage in the story.

Related Information
Back to Front And Upside Down!
Claire Alexander
Claire Alexander
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Year of Pub:
ISBN:     (ISBN-13)
Age range
Type of Disability
Or possibly no disability at all.
Fiction or Nonfiction
Category:  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:  When classroom teacher Miss Catnip suggests the class make birthday cards for the principal, all of the students (sweetly and simply illustrated barn animals) get down to coloring and writing Happy Birthday. Stan didn’t realize he would have to write and becomes discouraged and frustrated when he cannot make the letters come out right. Fearing he will be laughed at or teased, he confides in friend Jack on the playground. Jack is supportive and encourages Stan to ask his teacher for help. Another student also needs help and is encouraged to ask for it when she sees that Stan has taken the initiative. After much practice, Stan gets the result he wanted and is happy and proud of the birthday card he has made for his principal.
Link to publisher:
Links to professional reviews:
School Library Journal:  http://www.amazon.com/Back-Front-Upside-Claire-Alexander/dp/0802854141/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371211298&sr=1-1&keywords=Back+to+Front+and+Upside+Down; Kirkus: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/claire-alexander/back-front-and-upside-down/

Schneider Family Book Award from the American Libraries Association 2013 
Note: The Schneider Family Book Award is donated by Dr. Katherine Schneider and honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Three annual awards are presented for the best Teen, Middle School and Children’s Book.

Standards for Quality Portrayal of Characters with a disability
1. Promotes empathy not pity
2. Promotes acceptance, not ridicule
There is no teasing or bullying in this story, although the main character voices his fear of being laughed at. 
3. Emphasizes success rather than, or in addition to failure

4. Promotes positive images of persons with disabilities or illness
Stan is certainly one of the gang.
5. Assists children in gaining accurate understanding of the disability or illness
No, but this story is intended for very young children.
Understanding dyslexia is probably not the main goal. It is not clear whether there is a disability at all.
6. Demonstrates respect for persons with disabilities or illness

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)
Characters are barn animals including a pig, rabbit, goose, sheep, cat, and dog.
10. Depicts people with disabilities as more similar to than different from other people
11. Shows peoples’ strengths and abilities along with their disabilities
Stan’s strengths in coloring and drawing are clear.
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
It could be interpreted this way since characters are animals.
14. Shows people with disabilities in integrated settings and activities

15. Shows people with disabilities in valued occupations and diverse roles.

16. Shows people with disabilities in reciprocal relationships
17. Main character develops and grows emotionally as a result of what happens in the story
Stan learns that asking for help is a good idea and sees that no one laughs at him. He feels better about himself and his abilities at the end.