Picture Book About a Sibling with Autism – Leah’s Voice by Lori DeMonia

Posted in Autism/Aspergers, Bullying, Reviews, Special Needs Children by - March 25, 2013
Picture Book About a Sibling with Autism – Leah’s Voice by Lori DeMonia

Congratulations to all the folks behind the absolutely beautiful children’s book, Leah’s Voice by Lori DeMonia! Educators and parents can use Leah’s Voice as a resource for teaching siblings and friends about inclusion and acceptance. The 28 page picture book is about a sibling with autism but its important message on the acceptance of differences and treating everyone with kindness is for all children. Reading Leah’s Voice with your children or to students is the perfect way to open up a discussion on children with special needs, accepting differences, respecting and including others.

Mom-author Lori DeMonia and illustrator Monique Turchan make a winning team.  The full page, colorful illustrations on each left hand page bring the three main characters to life. In each drawing Monique Turchan uses facial expressions and body language to support the beautifully written text. The detailed illustrations will help young readers understand as they read or keep the interests of kids listening to the story being read.

The back cover has a photo of Lori DeMonia’s daughters and you can see the resemblance in the illustrations! Also on the back cover we learn that Leah’s art featured in Leah’s Voice can be seen with others she drew at the Autism Rocks – Kind Tree website. Her art has been featured for the fourth consecutive year. I was really impressed with her paintings entitled Night Valley, Sand Dollar, Liberty, and Sea Captain.

I hope Lori DeMonia and  illustrator Monique Turchan will come out with another book  with the same message but that will target boys. In a school library class,  no young boy will ever pick this book up because his friends will see he is looking at a book for girls. What other kids think is what motivates each action  kids in elementary school take. If I was reading Leah’s Voice to a classroom of students all would go well and we would have a healthy discussion but no 7 or 8 year old boy will walk out of the library with a “book for/about girls”.

About the Story

Logan and Leah are sisters. Logan does not know about her sister’s autism but she knows that she does things a little differently, she has trouble saying stuff, and that she is sensitive to loud noises among other things. When Abby comes to play with Logan, Abby cannot accept how Leah plays and even though Logan tries to defend her sister and tries to explain how Leah prefers certain things Abby says that the next time they play it will have to be at her house.

In another part of the book, Logan was very upset after her family missed a chance to go see a movie because Leah had a meltdown.

Excerpt from Leah’s Voice:

“Daddy I am so mad at Leah!” Logan yelled. “She ruined my first trip to the movies!”

“Logan, we need to talk to you about something,” said Mommy.

“What?” Logan asked.

“We wanted to tell you when you were old enough to understand that your sister is what they call on the spectrum,” Daddy said.

“What does that mean?”

“It means she has autism,” Mommy told Logan.

“It’s a disorder that makes it hard for Leah to talk to us and sometimes things upset her that wouldn’t upset you or me,” said Daddy…

The story ends in a very happy note. Leah is a very good artist and when there is an article in the paper about Leah and her art Abby comes to their house to apologize for her rude behavior.

Silver Honoree from The Mom's Choice Awards® has named Leah's Voice among the best in family-friendly media, products and services.

Leah’s Voice by Lori DeMonia Award Winning Book

Leah’s Voice is a recipient of the prestigious seal of excellence by The Mom’s Choice Award, (MCA) Silver Honoree.  It was The Mom’s Choice Award recipient in the children’s books category for developing social skills.  The Mom’s Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. It has also won the following awards:

  • New York Book Festival 2013 Honorable Mention Award
  • Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist 2013
  • London Book Festival 2013 Honorable Mention Award

Announcement: Leah’s Voice has been awarded the 2014 Temple Grandin Outstanding Literary Work of the Year by the Autism Society of America.

Wonderful Book Website

Another feature that makes this children’s book a great buy is their web site. Parents and teachers will find six Printable Activity Pages that help children learn the vocabulary to express themselves on this topic (acceptance, differences, respect, feelings, peers, etc.) My favorite page is one all teachers will also like: Discussion Questions to be used with Leah’s Voice.

 Picture Book About a Sibling with Autism - Leah’s Voice by Lori DeMonia About the Author

Lori DeMonia was born and raised in a western suburb of Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Cleveland State University and marrying her husband Matthew, she worked in marketing and lived in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

They now live in Oxford, PA just west of Philadelphia.

Before moving from Ohio, their oldest daughter, Leah, was diagnosed at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Lori now works in behavioral health as a TSS, therapeutic staff support, with special needs children. She is also a parent consultant with PEAC – The Pennsylvania Education for All Coalition, an organization that supports inclusive classroom placement for special needs children. Her daughter’s inclusion in the regular educational setting as well as summer camp has been a major contributor to her progress. Children with different abilities being included among their peers at school and in their community is something she strongly supports.

About the Illustrator

Monique Turchan is a graduate from The Cleveland Institute of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. She draws her inspiration from children’s books, different cultures around the world, and she enjoys to challenge herself with each new project. Monique is always looking for new ways to hone her skills as an Illustrator and a Designer. Check out her web site.

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This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.
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