How to foster compassion and acceptance of differences with our children or our students? Knowledge brings about understanding and compassion and nothing can achieve this better than sharing books with the youngsters under our care followed by lively discussions on the topic. Are you looking for a book about people with disabilities? Do you want a resource to spark a discussion on people with disabilities and how they adapt a lifestyle to accommodate those disabilities? I have found the perfect picture book for you, What Do You Use to Help Your Body? Maggie Explores the World of Disabilities by Jewel Kats with illustrations by Richa Kinra.
Congratulations to Jewel Kats for her well thought out, well organized, and extremely needed juvenile fiction, picture book to help reduce discrimination while promoting acceptance of people with disabilities. At first glance it looked like all the other books on the market but when I finished reading it the first time I realized how beneficial this book is for all children 8 years and up and for more than one reason. When I was teaching students in grade 3 to grade 5, I would have used What Do You Use to Help Your Body? : Maggie Explores the World of Disabilities each year and a few times during each year! Why? What are the features of this book?
About the Book
Maggie and her mother walk down their street meeting nine different individuals with different special needs. The reader learns that each person with a disability has found a way to cope by using an assistive device like a hearing aid, a wheelchair or an artificial leg. Parents and teachers can have discussions to explain how various self-help devices work and how many individuals with disabilities continue their education and have successful careers and families. Here are two of Jewel’s characters skillfully brought to like by illustrator Richa Kinra.
- Mrs. Ali, who writes poetry under trees says, “I use a walker. It helps me move my feet, and I can sit down on my walker’s seat when I need to relax.”
- Dr. Sharma, who is enjoying a tomato and cheese sandwich at a picnic table says, “I use a cane. It helps me stay balanced while I walk, and I use it to keep weight off my leg.”
At the end, Maggie’s mom has a lesson on being tactful when her daughter shouts,”Now, I can ask grownups about their ‘assistive devices’ all the time.” Her mom answers, “I’m afraid not, Maggie, not all people are comfortable talking about their disabilities.” This time Maggie smiles, “That’s okay. I’ll be respectful like you taught me.”
Features of the Book
- Easy to read font which is perfect for the target audience.
- Just the right size, 22cm x 22cm, for kids to hold, carry and place in their school bags. Would you believe that after a certain age, many children do not want to be seen leaving a library with a large picture book because they are afraid their peers think they are reading “baby” books!
- Kid-friendly text which is well spaced on its own page with no other distractions to encourage young readers.
- Beautiful, colorful, full page illustrations by Richa Kinra which are great for sharing the book in a reading circle. The book folds easily in half for an adult to share the illustration on each page with a group. Kinra’s realistic illustrations will help reading comprehension for children who are reading the book by themselves.
- Just enough repetition in the text format to prompt reluctant readers along but does not make it boring for other readers. For example on each page we meet a different person and learn what their line of work is. The main character, Maggie, always asks the same question, “What do you use to help your body? “ Then the reader knows to be attentive to find out how this person’s assistive device helps him. With the short, well worded explanation and the detailed illustrations the reader can easily understand.
- On the last page we learn that Maggie must wear an eye patch so that opens the door to children with special needs and how they also need special aids to help them cope and learn. From the discussion on an eye patch, the necessity of other aids like fidgets, chewys and other items in a child’s sensory box can be explained.
- In addition to meeting people with various disabilities, Jewel Kat’s characters are from different cultures and from all walks of life. Highlighting our mosaic of cultures and seeing the mix of ethnic groups, languages and cultures that co-exist in our country is a great lesson in itself and one that comes up in the Social Studies program.
I highly recommend this book to parents, teachers and other childhood educators to help teach children about living with a disability and learning about our Multicultural society.
Jewel Kats (1978 – ) is an award-winning writer. For six years, she penned a teen advice column for Young People’s Press. “Confidentially Yours” appeared in dozens of newspapers via the Scripps Howard News Service and TorStar Syndication Services. Her work on this column led her to win a $5,000 writing scholarship by women’s publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. She later earned a $15,000 scholarship from Global Television Network.
At the age of nine, Jewel endured a car accident. Her physical abilities altered forever. She spent weeks in the Hospital for Sick Children recovering, has survived eight leg surgeries, and currently walks with a cane. (Note: It’s fashionably hand painted!)
Jewel’s first children’s book is called: “Reena’s Bollywood Dream: A Story about Sexual Abuse.” She is excited about her book: “Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale.”
She hails from an Indo-Canadian background, and calls Toronto home.
Jewel’s website: www.JewelKats.com
Richa Kinra (1984 – ) is the internationally published illustrator of 89 books, 100 logos, 27 websites and in numerous other art projects like greeting cards, artwork for magazines etc. She is from India. Apart from children book illustrations she has also freelanced for various magazines and websites. Her hand painted works are primarily in watercolors, acrylic and oils, sometimes incorporating colored pencil, dry colors, pen & ink and/or collage.