The US Review of Books
“The more Sierra speaks up, the more people will listen. Then, they can embrace her differences. Acceptance is the key.”
It was the first day of a brand new school year, but Sierra wasn’t too thrilled. This year would only be like every year. She thought to herself, “They always call me disabled, and never let me play.” As her Mom drove her to school, it was a beautiful sunny morning, but Sierra was dreading the day. When they arrived, she saw two girls her age playing hopscotch, and she really wanted to join them. Despite hearing mean words regarding her disability from one of the girls, Sierra was determined to show them she could play, too.
“Playing!” writes Reynolds. “Now that was something Sierra knew all about. She loved to play with Mom, Dad, and Curtis, her big brother.” Taking her first jump, she landed on her knees and cried as the second girl declared, “You’re disabled, you can’t play hopscotch.” When young Sierra shouted that she was “not disabled, I’m just different than you. I’m differently abled. I like to play too,” the girls realized they had never looked at it that way. Her Mom explained that Sierra, having Down’s syndrome, absolutely could do things—it simply took a little longer and more effort for her to learn. This led the girls to apologize to their classmate and offer to teach her how to play hopscotch during recess. In fact, they enjoyed watching Sierra as she took “great pride in her gains.” Her first day back to school ended up being a great one. Fearful because she was afraid she would not fit in, she realized that people listened when she voiced her concerns.
Sierra is a real young lady and the author’s daughter. Important life lessons can be shared with young children by reading this book, such as not allowing a disability to hold one back in life. Determined to be included in the fun school recess activity of playing hopscotch, Sierra displays bravery in voicing her feelings, using the very effective term “differently abled.” In fact, if one really thinks about it, all people—young and old alike—are quite literally abled in differing ways. Children who read Reynolds’ book, or have it read to them, will learn that just because Sierra has Down’s syndrome, that in no way means she is incapable of doing the very same things all other boys and girls enjoy doing. Every child has inherent worth, the same basic needs and desires, and deserves to be treated with dignity. This book’s message of acceptance and embracing of differences is clearly communicated through a true-to-life story, accentuated with bright, appealing illustrations. As the author herself writes regarding this story, “everyone learned that extending kindness, patience, and acceptance is the key to humanity.”
The book is dedicated to Reynolds’ daughter, Sierra, and son, Curtis. The cover (as well as an inside page) features a beautiful photograph of the two children smiling as they enjoy the scent of a flower as yellow as the floppy straw hat on top of Sierra’s head. The author writes that the two “taught me that continually moving through life’s challenges will create value, and embracing one’s differences is the key to acceptance, which brings happiness.” With eighteen years of personal experience raising a child with Down’s syndrome, Reynolds mentors other children with disabilities in her free time. She specializes in “spreading acceptance,” encouraging people to embrace others’ differences.
Amazon Customer Reviews
This book sends a message that speaks to each of us for different reasons perhaps. So many people feel that their “differences” make for their own personal challenges – great story. This book is and should be submitted to all schools to bring awareness to the “differences” so the other children understand. This is a must read and I am happy that the strength and perserverance of the every day struggle.
Great book! My 5 year old enjoyed it and was great for starting conversations about differently abeled friends.
This is a must read and feel this should be in every school/household so than people will learn that the differently abled are just like everyone else. Judging someone by their disability or diagnosis is just missing out on their abilities, their uniqueness, and their beauty inside and out. Sierra is an amazing and beautiful person who loves unconditionally and believes in the best in people. My high school project in health class was on her because I wanted to bring awareness that they are just like us and given the gift to show us that there is joy in life when we focus on the simple things, they give us examples of how we should approach life, and they show us that laughter and smiling is the best medicine to get through the hardest days or any obstacle. Most of all they teach us that we should love one another and accept them no matter what their diagnosis or ability is because they never judge anyone, they are never racist, prejudice, they don’t hate anyone. We love you Sierra and Sandy!!!
A must for every home and classroom
This book is a must read. It was written by a gal I work with about her daughter that has different abilities.
As a special needs mom it brought back memories of my son’s struggle and him wishing he wasn’t different. His wish and desire to fit in. Unless you’ve been here, it’s hard to understand. As a mom, it’s heartbreaking knowing you can’t fix this.
In my opinion this book should be in every household and every classroom. Acceptance begins at home!
Well written Sandra, I was in tears.
This book teaches all that inclusion is important and how to accept others as they are. Beautiful story with life lessons for all to learn. I loved this book so much I bought two to share with my grandchildren.