Diversity in Texts Includes Mental Illness and People with Disabilities

I’ve been SO excited to see the buzz on Twitter of people posting diverse booklists. I’ve posted some of those tweets below.  As a special education teacher, I just want to make sure that diversity in texts also means representations of people with mental/physical disabilities.  It’s important for all students to see themselves represented in the world on a consistent basis.  I just completed reading Lighter than my Shadow (Goodreads review below) by Katie Green and I’ve thought of three students I want to pass it on to in my classes. I didn’t think of the students because they have the same issues, I just know it is a book they will all enjoy.

There are several amazing books you can include in your classroom libraries, and possibly include excerpts in your different unit plans. Some examples:

El Deafo by CeCe Bell

My Degeneration: A Journey Through Parkinson’s by Peter Dunlap-Shohl

Epileptic by David B.

Lighter than my Shadow by Katie Green

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Like graphic novels and novels, there are now many television shows and movies that can be added to this list.  When you are creating a diverse curriculum, how do you represent students with disabilities and people with mental illness?

 

 


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Lighter Than My ShadowLighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Quiet, thin, creative and cute, Katie’s early imaginative days fill the first pages of the graphic novel with memories that connect you to that childlike, innocent experience. A picky eater as a child (so was I), she also has strange quirks that would now be labeled as OCD. As Katie grows older, she seems to want to capture that innocence and take it with her which consequently results in her moving more inward. Choosing a path that looks like control, Katie becomes powerless and loses herself, her dreams, and hope. Will she ever lead a normal, healthy life?

Katie Green’s visual storytelling combines with well-chosen words, immersing you in her experience. A brief warning, if you don’t want to read about multiple mental health issues combined with sexual abuse, then forgo the 500 pages. While some might feel that parts of the story are repetitive, this is what recovery looks like. Anyone who writes a story of his/her struggle is rarely telling a new story, but we all need to be reminded that overcoming our own personal demons is possible.

View all my reviews

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