Growing up, like many people I’ve met, I was taught to look away when coming across a disabled person. I was also taught to not ask questions or stare, because it was definitely rude. And calling them disabled instead of special needs? Absolutely not ok back then. 

But since that time, things have changed. I’ve since become a mom to a sweet disabled girl, Addie, and I have poured myself into listening to disabled voices. I’ve also experienced watching people do the same as I was taught- people pretending not to stare, kids asking questions and having their parents shush them, and witnessing ableist statements being made about Addie. It’s been such a learning process, and frankly, one I’m learning more of daily. After an ableist experience that left a seriously bad taste in my mouth occurred several years ago, I realized just how important it was to normalize conversations about disabilities. I never wanted another family to experience the hurt that our family had. Enter Authentically Addie.

There is such a need for literature for children about people with disabilities. Having an inclusive home library is something that is important, and talking to your children about disabilities is even more important. The more you educate on a topic, the better, right? No one wants awkward stares, questions, or interactions. Authentically Addie was created with just this in mind!

Here's a Brief Synopsis:

Meet Addie!—A very special kid with many characteristics that make her particularly unique.

No matter what, Addie is always ready for an adventure—especially when she gets to discover what makes others different too. Follow along with Addie on her trip to the Zoo, where she meets amazing animal friends and learns about their many disabilities.

In this ultra-inclusive series, author Stephanie Wolfe, with the help of her daughter, Addie, aims to help parents open the door to conversations with their children about disabilities. By normalizing the ability for kids to explore their curiosity and ask kind questions about people they don’t understand, they believe the world will be a less divided place.

Authentically Addie is a book that came from my heart, and our goal is simply to normalize conversations about disabilities. God made each of us so differently and beautifully. Those differences should be celebrated, not shunned upon! Authentically Addie features bright, bold illustrations that engage kids, has a fun quest for readers to find Winky (Addie’s sidekick), and fun-loving characters that kids can relate to. Authentically Addie isn’t a book we want you to hand to your children as you make dinner or take care of household chores, however. Authentically Addie is a book designed for adults to read alongside children.

Why is Authentically Addie meant for reading with children?

Kids have questions. They’re honest. They can lack tact because of their young age. When reading Authentically Addie, it’s important that kids read it alongside an adult. Asking questions allows kids to explore their curiosity in a safe way. By doing this, you make asking questions normal and seeing that differences aren’t as big of a deal as people make them out to be.  Not only that, you assist in making disabilities something that isn’t taboo anymore. Equip your child with knowledge and help make this world an anti-ableist place.

But what if I don't know how to answer my child's question?

It’s ok not to know everything. Really, it is! A wonderful thing to do when you and your child are learning about disabilities is to be honest with them and matter-of-fact. Read Authentically Addie and research together about the different disabilities if you need more information. Talk to your child and tell them about medical equipment and what it is used for.

Over the years I’ve had many children ask about Addie’s trach and vent tubing or her wheelchair. Our conversations usually go something like this:

Child: “Why does she have that cord on her neck?”
Me: “Addie has a trach and this cool machine called a ventilator. They help Addie breathe because she can’t by herself. Can you show me how you take a deep breath?”
Child: *takes deep breath*
Me: “Awesome! That’s exactly what this machine does for Addie!”
Child: “Wow! And how come she has this wheelchair?”
Me: “Addie has a wheelchair because it’s hard for her to walk. The wheelchair is how she gets around. Pink is her favorite color, and she loves going fast!”
Child: “My favorite color is green. I like her wheelchair.”
*end scene*

Being matter-of-fact about Addie’s equipment means kids get a better understanding for it and it makes it less scary. Talking about it without fear also normalizes it. Notice- the child never asked rude questions, nor did they ask “what condition” she has. Kindness goes a long way, and so does learning about disabilities so we can be better allies.

Where can you buy Authentically Addie?

We’re so glad you want to be an ally to the disabled community and help normalize conversations about disabilities. Authentically Addie is a great tool to use and an awesome way to get started! You can buy the book via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, and Walmart. For in-store retailers or wholesale options, visit the Authentically Addie website.

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