Picture Books about Down Syndrome

Recently, I have had the gift of not one but two mothers of my daughters’ friends asking me for recommendations of books about Down syndrome. Double yay for people who want to learn more and talk to their children about differences, amiright?

While I had already developed a list of our favorite picture books that celebrate uniqueness, I hadn’t specifically created a list for books specifically about Down syndrome. So, here it goes:

47 Strings: Tessa’s Special Code is a really beautiful book written as a letter to the brother of a girl with Down syndrome. In accessible terms, it describes the genetic basis of Down syndrome and some of the implications of that difference. It also highlights the importance of family support and the fact that people with Down syndrome can expect to experience positive life experiences, just like their siblings and peers. I consider it a much better sibling-themed book than We’ll Paint the Octopus Red, which often appears on lists like these.

Eli, Included is a story about a boy with DS starting at a new school. It discusses differences and similarities among all of us while also touching on traits and supports specific to DS. This one also has some specific facts about DS beyond common characteristics. 

What’s Inside You is Inside Me, Too: My Chromosomes Make Me Unique – focuses on chromosomes and how they make all of us unique before touching a bit on how people with DS have a different number of chromosomes but are still like the rest of us.

This is Ella focuses on the characteristics of the title character that are similar and relatable to peers. It mentions that Ella has Down syndrome and discusses some general ways she may differ while highlighting that she is ultimately more alike peers than different. 

My Friend Has Down Syndrome (Friends with Disabilities) is a story about friends in a dance class that includes facts about DS that older, more curious readers may find interesting. I do take issue with some of the language, though. I wish they’d qualify some of the statements with “may.” For example “Kids with Down syndrome…[may] learn more slowly than other kids their age.” This is not always true for all people or all concepts. Characteristics of DS, including IQ and learning abilities, fall on a continuum for people with DS, just as they do for the rest of us. [Stepping down from my soap box….] But, with those qualifications, it’s still a decent book.

Excitingly, the genre of kindness and acceptance in children’s books seems to have grown considerably over the last few years, providing many more opportunities to teach children about these important topics through books. I also look forward to exploring books beyond the picture book level. What are some of your favorites that I missed? Share below.

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