On April 23rd we celebrate World Book Day. Books transport us to different places, and open our eyes to other ideas and points of view. Sometimes they share the lives and experiences of their authors and teach valuable lessons.
This year, LuMind IDSC honors six authors with Down syndrome who shared their stories about inclusion, the challenges they have overcome, and their pursuit for a better world where people with different abilities are regarded with respect. These books give readers the opportunity to discuss kindness, inclusion, and acceptance with our younger generations.
We recommend these and similar books as important additions to your library, even if you don’t have a loved one with Down syndrome in your family!
More Alike Than Different: My Life with Down Syndrome
Author: David Egan
David Egan is an author, athlete, and avid advocate for people with disabilities. He has served as a Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger and was the first person with an intellectual disability to serve as a Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Public Policy Fellow. David is a fierce champion for people with Down syndrome who gives speeches around the world, inspiring people and making them see that people with Down syndrome are capable of much. One of his goals is to change the attitudes and perceptions towards people with disabilities.
In his inspiring memoir, “More Alike Than Different: My Life with Down Syndrome”, David tells his own story, highlighting the support from his family, and his drive to push boundaries and overcome challenges, and ways we can all dismiss stereotypes.
This insightful book helps parents, teachers, self-advocates, and people interested in inclusion to empower people with Down syndrome and to support opportunities toward their goals.
Collette in Kindergarten
Author: Collette Divitto
Collette Divitto grew up in Connecticut, and, after facing countless rejections from jobs that didn’t find her “fit” to work there, she decided to take a different route. With help from her mom and a singular drive to achieve, she opened a prosperous online cookie company called Collettey’s Cookies that employs people with disabilities. Employing people with disabilities is a topic close to Collette’s heart, since only about 17.5% of people with disabilities have paying jobs. Her mission is to work with lawmakers in Washington D.C. to create policies that will increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Collette is a vocal self-advocate in the Down syndrome community, currently volunteers on the LuMind IDSC board, and travels around the country for speaking engagements, inspiring people wherever she goes. She also established Colletey’s Leadership, a nonprofit organization that provides workshops, training, empowerment and leadership for those with or without disabilities.
In her children’s book, “Collette in Kindergarten,” she shares her experience as a young girl, who despite her bubbly and friendly personality, saw herself excluded from playdates – not because her friends didn’t want to invite her, but because their parents didn’t understand people with Down syndrome.
Champions of Collette’s book call this a “must read” for all ages, regardless of one’s connection to Down syndrome, as it illustrates the importance of meeting people where they are and being willing to learn new perspectives throughout one’s life.
Born to Sparkle: A Story About Achieving Your Dreams
Author: Megan Bomgaars
Megan co-stars in the critically acclaimed television series “Born This Way.” She also delivers keynote speeches advocating for Down syndrome inclusion and encouraging everyone’s potential.
Megan and her teachers composed a now viral video called “Don’t Limit Me” in which she talks about people’s prejudices against people with Down syndrome, when in fact, they can achieve anything they set their minds to, become independent, and flourish when given the opportunity.
In her book, “Born to Sparkle: A Story About Achieving Your Dreams,” Megan inspires readers of all ages to pursue their dreams, no matter how big, and thus, find the sparkle within them. Megan believes that there are no limits and that everything is possible if you don’t limit yourself. After all, as an activist and television personality, she is living her dream!
I Am Connor
Author: Connor Rodriguez
Connor Rodriguez is a published author, entrepreneur, and baker, so people often think he’s older than he is. But at the young age of 12, Connor has already earned all of these titles, and more.
Connor is a gentle soul who loves dogs and baking. His two passions came together when he and his dad started his company “Connor’s Canine Cookies,” inspired by his two rescue dogs, Max and Scoob.
In his thoughtful book, “I Am Connor” shows readers that even though he may look and sound different, he is just like everyone else and that he is able to do just as the rest of his friends. An important message for kids and grownups alike, that we shouldn’t judge people based on how different they are from us. We could be missing out on a truly great friend if we base our judgement on what’s outside rather than what’s within them.
Olivia the Bully
Author: Engelic Everett
Engelic is a fierce anti-bullying advocate, entrepreneur, and published author.
On her website, she offers educational resources for children such as coloring sheets. Kids can also take The Olivia Pledge and promise to be kind to others.
Engelic’s book was inspired by her experience being bullied in school. Tackling a serious topic, “Olivia the Bully” teaches readers about acceptance, friendship, and understanding. Aimed at school-age kids, the book’s main character is Olivia, a bunny with no friends who lashes out at her teachers and classmates. When she meets a new kid in town, she learns a valuable lesson about friendship and how kindness is the only way to open the hearts of others.
You Are Enough
Author: Sofia Sanchez
Sofia’s story is one of perseverance. She was abandoned at birth in a small town in Ukraine and spent the first 14 months of her life in an orphanage, until a couple from the United States adopted her. They have three other sons and the youngest was born with Down syndrome, which inspired them to adopt Sofia.
Sofia is now a thriving twelve-year-old model, author, self-advocate and fifth grader. Sofia’s goal is for parents to teach young children the value of acceptance and inclusion of others regardless of background or abilities. It’s a great opportunity for parents to discuss kindness and acceptance with their children.
In her uplifting book, “You Are Enough,” Sofia celebrates our differences and that it’s ok to be different. We’re all different! After all, wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same? But more than that, that it’s important to be yourself, there’s no other like you, and that’s something to treasure.