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, July 29, 2015

Book # 22: All My Stripes

All My Stripes  A Story for Children with Autism

Image result for all my stripes

All My Stripes has many endearing qualities and an overall positive message (a child is much more than his "autism"). Children between the ages of 3 and 10, both with and without a neuro-developmental disability like autism, will enjoy the story. The illustrations add a lot with their rich color and expressiveness. The main character, Zane the Zebra, is very self-aware ("I started talking about all the things I knew about the game, but since I was staring at the floor, nobody knew I was talking to them.")--so much so that he seems a bit unrealistic. The book has an extensive Reading Guide at the end that clearly states that the story can be used for teaching typical children about children with autism and what they may be feeling. Yet the title suggests that the story was written for children with autism. My conclusion is that this story is geared both toward children with high-functioning autism and typical children. There are a few weaknesses, such as the main character being left screaming under his desk during a fire drill without anyone noticing. That could definitely frighten young readers with a disability and should not happen in 2015. Overall, I think it is a good story.
Related Information
All My Stripes

Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer

Jennifer Zivoin

Magination Press
Year of Pub:
Age range

Type of Disability

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 story line 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  All My Stripes is the story of Zane the Zebra telling his mother about his bad day at school and his mother helping him feel better about himself. Zane has autism, symbolized by an "autism stripe" on his forehead. At school he experiences sensory processing difficulties and social interaction challenges, both of which make him feel different from his peers. His mother is able to hear his frustration and point out his other qualities--other stripes--like caring, navigating, and truth-telling. She points out to him that his autism stripe is not what defines him, but rather all of his different stripes together. Through this discussion with his mother, he realizes that he has a lot of positive qualities and that autism is just another stripe. By the end of the discussion, he "loved himself again."
Link to publisher:
Links to professional reviews:
http://portlandbookreview.com/2015/05/all-my-stripes-a-story-for-children-with-autism-by-shaina-rudolph-and-danielle-royer-illustrated-by-jennifer-zivoin/; http://www.amazon.com/All-My-Stripes-Children-Autism/dp/1433819171 (scroll all the way down to see reviews)


Standards for Quality Portrayal of Characters with a disability
1. Promotes empathy not pity
2. Promotes acceptance, not ridicule
Zane's mother and Zane himself are the only characters showing acceptance by the end of the story.
3. Emphasizes success rather than, or in addition to failure

4. Promotes positive images of persons with disabilities or illness
5. Assists children in gaining accurate understanding of the disability or illness
Because autism is such a wide spectrum, this story portrays a specific profile of a child with autism, but it cannot be said that Zane represents all children with autism.
6. Demonstrates respect for persons with disabilities or illness
7. Promotes attitude of “one of us” not “one of them.”
Tries to
But Zane is not shown in the company of peers after he comes to his realizations.
8. Uses people-first language
9. Describes the disability or person with disabilities or illness as realistic (not subhuman or superhuman)
Zane has a high-degree of self-awareness, probably more than most children with autism. 
10. Depicts people with disabilities as more similar to than different from other people
11. Shows peoples’ strengths and abilities along with their disabilities
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
Zane is a zebra, which makes him universally acceptable
14. Shows people with disabilities in integrated settings and activities
Zane is shown in a school setting with typical peers.
15. Shows people with disabilities in valued occupations and diverse roles.

16. Shows people with disabilities in reciprocal relationships
Just with his mother
17. Main character develops and grows emotionally as a result of what happens in the story
Zane realizes that there is more to him than just autism.