the book Counting by 7s stacked on top of the book Wonder

Main Characters With Intellectual Disabilities in Chapter Books

Are there any chapter books with a main character who has Down syndrome or other intellectual disabilities? 

I’m so grateful for books like RJ Palacio’s Wonder, which is a fantastic look at a boy with an “extraordinary face.” 

Marilee recently loved Counting by 7s, which features a young girl who is neurodiverse. She is following this one up with Short, a book by the same author about a girl who is a little person. 

Penny and I have enjoyed Fish in a Tree, about a girl with dyslexia, and Out of My Mind, about a girl with cerebral palsy. 

The thing that holds all of these books about kids with disabilities together, however, is that they are intellectually brilliant. Their disability may prevent other people from recognizing how smart they are, but inside that body is a powerful brain. One moral of the story is that physical disabilities do not equate to intellectual disabilities.

As far as I know, there aren’t books to represent kids with intellectual disabilities in a way that portrays the fullness of their lives. I can imagine a main character who doesn’t wow us with her intellect but confounds us with her kindness or evokes our curiosity with her way of seeing the world. We are missing out on recognizing the value of kids whose gifts go beyond the intellect and whose being calls forth different aspects of our common humanity.  

(Am I wrong? Does anyone know of chapter books with main characters who have Down syndrome or other intellectual disabilities?)

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