We had an amazing opportunity for Exceptional Children's Week this year to meet the author of ClaraBelle Blue, Adiba Nelson. This book is much needed in our collections across the country, but even more than the book being so amazing is the story behind writing it. Adiba Nelson's daughter lives life with Cerebral Palsy but it does not define her as a person. Ms. Nelson noticed the lack of books that include characters that reflect her daughter's looks, personality, etc. and she also noticed many of the books that do include characters facing some type of disease or disability often are defined by that disease and are mostly about their struggles. It is imperative our children are able to use reading as not only a window into other's lives but also as a window to see themselves. Ms. Nelson wrote ClaraBelle Blue to show the world and other girls like her daughter that even though she may have Cerebral Palsy, it does not define her. I hope Ms. Nelson also wants to write chapter books because I think this would be such an important topic for our higher readers to include in their collection as well.
The conversations during our visit were heartfelt and informative. Some of our students asked about Ms. Nelson's daughter's disability while others asked about her favorite books, favorite music, and what she likes to play with at home. It was a very uplifting experience for me to see our students really take the message of the book to heart-that kids are kids first, the disability is just one part of their lives.
I highly suggest asking Ms. Nelson to come visit your students. She was so patient with all of our questions, read the book out loud, and helped our elementary students see beyond a wheelchair. Kindness matters and it starts with adults like Adiba Nelson modeling for our younger generations. Her movement #inclusioncantwait is a train I've jumped on since reading her book and talking with her. Check out her book and her mission here.
On the logistics side, I used Google Hangouts Live to record our session with our 3rd grade group that aired in all of our teacher's classrooms so that all of our students could participate. Teachers had the ability to Tweet questions to me to ask Ms. Nelson on air. I also received a very sweet note from our SPED department head, Ms. Orgeron following the Skype. It definitely brightened my day to hear they enjoyed our experience as much as I did.
Check out our pictures from the Skype below and come by our library to check out ClaraBelle Blue!
School Librarian in Metro Atlanta