The DREAM Project: Disability Representation, Education and Awareness in Media resources for Preschool/ Kindergarten; Early Elementary (1-3)

Posted on September 29, 2021

by Amy H

The Toledo Lucas County Public Library is excited to partner with the Ability Center and other community partners to launch a new program called DREAM: Disability Representation, Education and Awareness in Media. The goal of the program is to ensure literature that focuses on, includes, and/or is created by people with disabilities is available and utilized in places where reading material is widely disseminated, including but not limited to schools, libraries, and bookstores. 

Copies of the books are being supplied to schools who have indicated an interest in participating in the program, and they will also be receiving disability and inclusion education modules for classrooms, with additional resources to distribute along with calls to action. Teachers who wish to use additional copies for classroom use are encouraged to check out Library copies as needed. The Library will have copies of the books from the project’s list in multiple formats for checkout and will also host storytimes in the coming months.

The project is initially focusing on books for younger children and below is the list of highly recommended titles that reviewers from the Ability Center found to be the most representative, fun, and educational depictions currently available.

Cover of All the Way to the Top

All the Way to the Top
By Annette Bay Pimentel


Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, Jennifer Keelan grew up battling-and overcoming-the limitations others set for her. But after discovering the world of disability rights activism, she knew she had to use her voice to change things. At eight years old, she participated in the Capitol Crawl. The deeply affecting image of Jennifer crawling up the steps of Capitol Hill went viral and helped pressure Congress into passing the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Cover of Awesomely Emma: A Charley and Emma Story

Awesomely Emma: A Charley and Emma Story
By Amy Webb

eBook   |   hoopla eBbook

I love being me, because me is an awesome thing to be! Emma has limb differences, but different isn’t bad, sad, or strange. It’s just different! But when some accessibility problems get in the way at the local art museum, it ruins the fun of a class trip…and then Emma’s friend Charley makes things even worse! In the middle of a really bad day, Emma has to call upon her sense of inner awesome to stand up for herself and teach everyone a lesson about the transformative power of feeling awesome in your own skin.

Cover of Bodies are Cool

Bodies are Cool
By Tyler Feder


Highlighting the various skin tones, body shapes, abilities, and hair types is just the beginning in this truly inclusive book. With its joyful illustrations and encouraging poetic refrain, it will instill body acceptance and confidence in the youngest of readers.

Cover of I Am Not a Label: 34 Disabled Artists, Thinkers, Athletes, and Activists from Past and Present

I Am Not a Label: 34 Disabled Artists, Thinkers, Athletes, and Activists from Past and Present
By Cerrie Burnell

eBook   |   hoopla eAudio

Meet 34 trailblazing role models with disabilities from around the world and throughout history, whose incredible lives and careers demonstrate that living with a disability or a chronic illness is not a definition, but just one part of what makes these amazing athletes, activists, thinkers and artists so unique.

Cover of I Will Dance

I Will Dance
By Nancy Bo Flood


Eva longs to dance. But unlike many would-be dancers, Eva has cerebral palsy. She doesn’t know what dance looks like for someone who uses a wheelchair. Then Eva learns of a place that has created a class for dancers of all abilities. Her first movements in the studio are tentative, but with the encouragement of her instructor and fellow students, Eva becomes more confident. Eva found a place where everyone truly belongs and at last her dream of dancing has come true. This story is based on the inclusive programs of the Young Dance company in St. Paul, MN. ( Young Dance – Transforming Lives Through Movement)

Cover of Just Ask: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

Just Ask: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
By Sonia Sotomayor

eBook   |   Spanish

Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful. Here, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges and the differences that makes each of us unique.

Cover of Looking Out For Sarah

Looking Out For Sarah
By Glenna Lang

hoopla eBook

In this story of friendship, loyalty, and trust, spend a day in the life of Sarah and her guide dog, Perry. Perry explains how he helps Sarah go shopping, to the post office, and take the train to school. Sarah, a blind musician and teacher, entertains the children she teaches and tells them about the time she and Perry walked from Boston to New York to show the world what a blind person can accomplish with the help of a guide dog.

Cover of My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay
By Cari Best

Zulay is blind. She and her three best friends are all in the same first grade class and study the same things. When their teacher asks her students what activity they want to do on Field Day, Zulay surprises everyone when she says she wants to run a race. With the help of a special aide and the support of her friends, Zulay does just that.

Cover of Out Into the Big Wide Lake

Out Into the Big Wide Lake
By Paul Harbridge


Kate, who has Down syndrome, visits her grandparents on her own for the first time at their lakeside home. She’s nervous but excited at the adventure ahead. She helps her grandfather with his grocery deliveries by boat, where she meets all the neighbors, including a very grumpy old man named Walter. Her grandmother even teaches her to pilot the boat all by herself! When her grandfather takes ill suddenly, it’s up to Kate — but can she really make all those deliveries, even to grumpy old Walter? She has to try! Based on the author’s sister, Kate is a lovable, brave, smart, and feisty character moving story about facing fears and gaining independence.

Cover of Rescue and Jessica

Rescue and Jessica

DVD   |   eAudiobook   |   eBook   |   hoopla eAudio   |   hoopla ReadAlong eAudio   |   hoopla movie

Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog, but when he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. Based on a real-life partnership, the authors share endnote information about service dogs, including their real-life best friend and black lab, Rescue.

Cover of Tammy Duckworth (My Itty-Bitty Bio)

Tammy Duckworth (My Itty-Bitty Bio)
By Katlin Sarantou

eBook   |   hoopla eBook

The My Itty-Bitty Bio series is meant for the earliest readers. This is the story of veteran and senator Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs and some mobility in her right arm in a helicopter crash while serving in Iraq.

Cover of When Charley Met Emma

When Charley Met Emma
By Amy Webb

eBook   |   hoopla eBook

When Charley goes to the playground and sees Emma, a girl with limb differences who gets around in a wheelchair, he doesn’t know how to react at first. But after he and Emma start talking, he learns that different isn’t bad, sad, or strange–different is just different! This wonderful book will help kids think about disability, kindness, and how to behave when they meet someone who is different from them.

Cover of You Are Enough

You Are Enough
By Margaret O’Hair and Sofia Sanchez


It can be hard to be different-whether because of how you look, where you live, or what you can or can’t do. But wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same? Being different is what makes you YOU. This inclusive and empowering picture book, written by Sofia Sanchez, a young model and actress with Down syndrome, reminds readers how important it is to embrace your differences, be confident, and be proud of who you are. This book also includes a brief bio of Sofia and her journey so far, as well as additional information about Down syndrome and how we can all be more accepting, more inclusive, and more kind.

These are just a some of the wonderful books in the library’s collection that featu

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