Disability Awareness Activities


Building awareness with all kids to help them better understand the world around them is a should be a priority for schools. It is quite normal for kids to be curious about other children who may use special materials / equipment or behave/ learn differently. It is our role as parents, teachers, and citizens to support the kids in their understanding of these differences. Social Emotional Learning under the guidelines of CASEL should be a pillar in your school plan.


Special Education: Promoting More Inclusion at Your School

Disability Awareness- Resources

CASEL guide


Disability Awareness Activity Packet-Activities and Resources for Teaching Students About Disabilities

Understanding Disabilities

Disabilities Awareness Teacher Toolkit

DISABILITY 101: Increasing Disability Awareness and Sensitivity

Teacher’s Reference Book – Special Stories for Disability Awareness: Stories and Activities for Teachers

by Mal Leicester, Jane Dover (Contributions by)

Parenting resources

Disability Awareness: 10 Things Parents Should Teach Their Kids About Disabilities

Teaching Your Child About Peers With Special Needs

walk a mile in their shoes (Bullying Awareness)




Elementary Books

“Andy and His Yellow Frisbee”  by  Mary Thompson   Pre-k -3rd
“Be Good to Eddie Lee ” by Virginia Filling   Pre-k -3rd
“Arnie & the New Kid ” by Nancy Carlson   Pre-k -3rd
“Danny and the Merry-go-Round” by Nan Holcomb   Pre-k -3rd
“Let’s Talk about It” by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos   Pre-K – 3rd
“Leo the Late Bloomer” by Robert Kraus   Pre-k -3rd
“Fair and Square” by Nan Holcomb   1st – 2nd
“I’m like You, You’re like Me” by Cindy Gainer   1st – 2nd
“We can do it!  by Laura Dwight   1st – 2nd
“Rolling Along: The story of Taylor and his Wheelchair”  by Jamee Heelan   1st – 5th
“Adam and the Magic Marble”  by Adam and Carol Buehrens   2nd – 6th

Middle and High School Disability Awareness Book Review

are you alone on purpose?” By Nancy Werlin. Allison and Adam are twins but Adam has Autism and Allison is gifted. Their parents start going to synagogue and there they meet Harry, the Rabbi’s son, who is a bully and very mean to Adam. When Harry is injured and ends up in a wheelchair he becomes more vulnerable and Allison and Harry become friends. This is a moving story about learning about disabilities but toward the end there are a few cuss words. The story itself is marvelous, but due to some harsh language it is more for high school students.

Don’t Stop The Music by Robert Perske. This novel is exciting and a fun adventure that teaches about physical disabilities and perceptions of able-bodied individuals toward people with disabilities. It has a crime mystery imbedded in a disability awareness book. This book would be wonderful for middle school students as well as young high school students.

head above water”  by S.L. Rottman. This novel is about a 16-year-old girl with an 18-year-old brother with Down Syndrome. Their mother works two jobs to make ends meet and therefore Skye takes on most of the caretaking activities with Sunny. This story highlights how it is having a sibling with a disability. Skye has her first boyfriend and having a brother who she needs to take care of gets in the way of her teenage life. There is some serious storyline as her new boyfriend pressures her to have sex and almost rapes her. It is wonderful how Skye defends herself and sticks up for what she believes in, however, this book would be appropriate for high school only due to the mature storyline.

Petey” by Ben Mikaelsen. This novel examines the notion that people with physical disabilities are often assumed to have cognitive disabilities when they often do not. This story starts in the early part of the 1900s and follows Petey Corbin though living in an institution and then a nursing home. It is a delightful journey that clearly shows how non-disabled people often are frightened of people with disabilities until they get to know them. It is a particularly good book for boys and is appropriate for both middle and high school students.

Rules” by Cynthia Lord. This is a Newbery Honor Book and Schneider Family Book Award winner. The story follows a brother with autism and a sister who shares a lot of responsibility for teaching her bother the rules of getting along in a world that does not always have compassion and understanding for someone with autism. Catherine creates rules to help David understand how to live in the world. Catherine also learns a few lessons about other disabilities. This is an excellent book for middle and high school alike.

Views from our Shoes” Edited by Donald Meyer. This is a compilation of forty-five (45) short narratives of siblings of children with disabilities and how they view living with their siblings.
It is a nice view from children as young as four to as old as eighteen. This book is appropriate for middle and high school students.

Wish on a Unicorn” by Karen Hesse. This novel uses imagination and wishes to explore the dreams of children living in poverty with a sibling with a disability. The relationship between the children and how protective they are of their sister with a cognitive disability is heart warming. It would be an easy novel to do writing activities with. What would you wish for if you found a unicorn? How would you handle a bully? This story lends itself to middle and high school students.

The Summer of the Swans” by Betsy Byars. Newberry Award Winner. This novel tells the story of a family that includes a boy with a cognitive disability. This is a short book that easily shows the family dynamics and how it is to be a sibling of a child with a disability. This is a good book for middle school level.


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