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Blogs We Are Reading – A Mighty Girl & How Stories About Disability Help Create Empathy

By Quynh Nguyen, Classroom Teacher

A Mighty Girl

I am a huge fan of A Mighty Girl. In their “About Us”  section, they describe the website as “A Mighty Girl is the world’s largest collection of books, toys, movies, and music for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls and, of course, for girls themselves!” A Mighty Girl consistently posts entries that are current and relevant to today’s issues.  I use this website as a resource to find new books to read and to learn more about people that I should be paying attention to. My students, of all genders, have enjoyed these recommendations.

The blog post I want to highlight is titled, “Women Saving The Planet: 25 Kids’ Books About Female Environmentalists”.  This top 25 list features women from different backgrounds. The short and succinct descriptions help readers get an idea of who these women are and why they are important. One of the figures spotlighted is environmental activist Greta Thunberg. She is an inspiration to many. Kids can relate to a teenager who raises her voice to fight for change. Her speeches are readily available to watch online. For younger readers, a picture book titled Greta and the Giants: inspired by Greta Thunberg’s Stand to Save the World is an accessible introduction.

Books that I have added to my reading list after reading this blog post:

1. Greta and the Giants: inspired by Greta Thunberg’s Stand to Save the World written by Zoe Tucker and illustrated by Zoe Persico

2. Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World written by Jen Cullerton Johnson and Illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler

3. Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

How Stories About Disability Help Create Empathy by Karol Silverstein

In her blog post, Karol Silverstein writes about her own experience with rheumatoid arthritis. This piece was both poignant and informative. She shares her own experiences talking to children who are curious about her disability. Silverstein describes her goal of making sure diversity includes people with disabilities. “Although I’m writing here mostly about the benefits of exposing non-disabled readers to accurate, multidimensional disabled characters, it’s important to note that for kids who have disabilities and health challenges themselves, seeing themselves represented in media is incredibly important.”

Building our classroom libraries, it is beneficial for students to see well written characters in their books that do not share the same background or experience. However, seeing yourself in books is much more important. The author talks about how a reader can feel less isolated in the world knowing that someone else feels the same way and is going through similar things. “I felt soul-crushingly alone as a teen. The value of having a book like Cursed available to me back then would likely have been immeasurable.” Silverstein’s young adult novel, Cursed, is waiting for me in my giant pile of books.