Different Kinds Of Special is a wonderful children's book that celebrates the differences that make us all unique. The delightful story shares a message of inclusion, acceptance, empathy, and friendship across differences. Donna Carol Koffman is a Canadian author and poet. Koffman has a degree in Psychology, she is a certified Life Skills Coach, and a Reiki Therapist in Toronto. Different Kinds Of Special was inspired by Koffman's grandson, Reese, who has autism.
In my quest to promote World Autism Awareness Day for the entire month of April, I'm sharing this book, and a giveaway, with YMC readers. I had the pleasure of interviewing Donna about her book, Different Kinds Of Special—read on to find out the author's insightful answers!
Q & A With Donna Carol Koffman
WLY: I love your story’s message of empathy and inclusion. What age group does this book speak to?
DCK: I originally geared this story to very young children. However, as I have been going to schools to read to children, grade 5s have been included, and really enjoyed the story. So, I guess 4- to 10-year-olds. Although written with small children in mind, I hope my story speaks to all ages, including adults.
The word “special" can have negative connotations if used in the wrong content or tone. I appreciate how you use the word to mean something positive. Do you think children will gravitate toward the idea of being different or standing out from the crowd?
Every child wants to feel important. Children love to answer the questions about what makes them stand out. They come up with some great answers! I recently received a supreme compliment from a hearing impaired child, who after reading the story told his teacher he was proud to be special!
It’s fear that makes some children avoid other children who appear different from them. I think it’s very important for parents, caregivers, and teachers to be conscious of the words they use to describe children with learning differences or physical challenges. What are your thoughts on this?
I agree fear is the motivating factor for cruelty towards people with challenges. The very reason for this story is to help typical children gain awareness that there is no need to fear someone who is different from them on the outside. On the inside, we are all the same. It is up to parents to teach their children to have respect for all others, and learn the proper terms for people with exceptionalities.
The illustrations are wonderful. How did you work with the illustrator, Breanne Biggar, to bring the book to life? Can you tell us about the guest illustrator with the sidewalk drawings?
It took me years to find an illustrator who could capture my vision for this story. Finally, I put a notice up at Sheridan College School of Illustration. Breanne was the most talented illustrator I had come across. We met, I gave her some pages to draw, along with some photos of my grandson and my nephew, and the rest is history! When she had completed the drawing and painted the pictures, I broke down totally! She brought my characters to life. I am very proud of her. She is a very gifted young woman.
While searching for an illustrator, I happened in on a very young artist named Devin. Devin had a unique style of drawing. As he has Aspergers (which is on the autism spectrum), I knew drawing the story was not in the cards. I also knew he had to contribute. So, I wrote his work into the story. Devin was only 6-years-old when he did the drawings! I am so proud to have his contribution, and show off his incredible talent in this story.
Your poem at the introduction is beautiful! Can you share it with us?
The poem was written after the story. It is called "LITTLE MESSENGER."
There are no
A little messenger,
Shines before us
For us to
Donna Carol Koffman
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
Bookalicious has a copy of Different Kinds Of Special
to give to a lucky Bookalicious reader who shares what makes their child special. Leave your comment in the "click here to spill it!" bubble below to enter the draw.
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