Thursday, May 12, 2022

Book Nook: My Heart Books

My Heart Books, creator of the first and only fully customizable books about someone you know with special needs is launching a collection of children’s books for all families about people with various disabilities. After the success of their custom books (which include the person’s name, dedication page, up to two personal pictures, custom characters, and their own story), many parents of “typically” developing children have requested books as well. They expanded their inventory to include pre-made books so that all children could learn about differences and become accepting of them.

Each book in this series is written in a child-friendly way without labels. Not only do these books describe the person’s challenges but focus on what they are great at, ways other people can help them, and what we love about them. At the end of each book, there is a page with additional tools for parents and caregivers to continue the conversation and help teach children about differences and being kind.

They currently offer 5 books that describe different people with a range of disabilities:
  • My Brother Brandon: This is the book that started it all, it is about the author's son who is non-verbal and has a number of other global developmental delays, but has many things he’s great at and shows his love to his sister in his own sweet way
  • My Aunt Helen: Helen isn’t able to walk and is deaf, but there are so many wonderful things about her. This sweet story lets the reader know how special she is.
  • My Cousin Ryan: Ryan is blind and has several other challenges. We learn so many amazing and clever things about him and how he works extra hard to do things that are easy for others.
  • My Friend Samantha: Samantha has a learning disability. She has to work extra hard at her school work, but is talented in many other areas.
  • My Son Evan: Evan has autism. Although he has some challenges there are things he is great at and has so many wonderful qualities that make his family smile.
  • Set of 5 books: This is an excellent resource for classrooms, so children can see that there are people with all different types of disabilities and that they all have their own unique strengths and challenges. Schools and organizations have been thrilled that they now have a way to break down walls between communities. These books have provided the foundation for a dialogue about disability and inclusion within classrooms and show children that our differences are not so far apart.
I had a chance to learn more in this interview.

Why did you create My Heart Books?
After my daughter Skylar was born before she even turned 2 she turned to us one day and asked why her older brother Brandon then 6 (who has a rare genetic condition called med13l, global developmental delays and is non-verbal) "Why doesn't Brandon speak?". This was such an innocent question as she adored her older brother and was never bothered by any of his differences, but did not understand why she spoke and her older brother didn't. At the time I gave her a very simple answer which I knew would need to evolve as she grew older. As I had always turned to children's books to answer the insatiable youthful questions of a two year old, there was nothing that fit the mold for Brandon so we decided to create our own My Brother Brandon book which started out as a very simple story with pictures of Brandon and Skylar in it.

When Skylar was in pre-school and her classmates were 3 and 4 I had the opportunity to go into her school and talk about Brandon and people with disabilities and being accepting of all different types of people. It was such an amazing experience and the impact it had on these young children. After it being such a positive experience,I continued to do this each year within Skylar's classrooms up through age 7, which now as the children got older they seemed to notice differences more. However after welcoming their questions and teaching them, they got to know Brandon and were extremely sweet with him. I've always been of the mind set that acceptance is more natural the younger you are. This changed our experience being out in our community on the upper east side in nyc, after kids shying away from Brandon they now said Hi to him and asked if he wanted to play. I then realized there are so many different types of children with disabilities different then Brandon ie. blind, deaf, autistic etc. everyone is unique and has their own story which is why I came up with My Heart Books as a way families can customize their own books in just 3 easy steps. It is a fun process with no writing or drawing involved. You simply log on, create your characters, design your book cover and dedication page by either uploading your own pictures or choosing the characters you create and generate your custom book by answering a few questions about your child the content will be automatically created. The process is fun and you can do it with your kids which takes about 10-15 min. at the end you have the option of ordering a e-book, softcover or hardcover book.

In addition we added 5 pre-made books about people with different disabilities since we wanted all families including those without a child with special needs to learn about all different types of people, as our mission is to create acceptance, understanding and empathy toward people with special needs one book at a time. We've continued doing workshops for gen ed schools and organizations to continue our mission of acceptance. We do this for children age 3-10, along with parent and teacher workshops.

Why is it so important for people with disabilities to see themselves reflected in books?
This is so important so they can feel a part of the greater community and to help children realize that our differences are not so far apart. I believe it is extremely important to bridge the gap between children with disabilities and "typically" developing children and create a truly inclusive society.

How do books featuring people with special needs benefit all people?
By featuring people with different types of special needs it teaches people about differences and acceptance and shows us that our differences are not so far apart, by not only showing people's challenges but what they are great at leading to a more compassionate, empathetic society. Research tells us that empathy education reduces the incidence of bullying in typically developing children. In addition empathetic people are happier, more successful and less violent. My Heart Books delivers the hope that every child sees someone with a disability as a person just like them. If every child could be exposed to and learn about someone with a disability, acceptance would be more natural and what a kinder world we would all live in.

Founded in 2019, My Heart Books is an online resource where you can create a fully customizable children’s book about someone you love with special needs, book workshops for schools or organizations to understand and accept differences and buy books about people with disabilities. Our Mission is to create a kinder world by promoting acceptance and empathy toward children and adults with special needs. For more information visit

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