All my Stripes

This week I really wanted to review some books that are ‘inclusive’ of people with autism and that I would be able to share with my boys, books that allow them to identify with the characters and to bring awareness that some people might need extra time to process information and how we might be able to help.

‘All my Stripes’ was very appropriate for this. This book was co-written by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer. Both of them have a lot of experience in educating children with different needs and backgrounds and have a lot of passion for teaching. It was published in 2014 by Magination Press and it contains 40 pages with just a few lines on each page. The writing in this story is very simple and easy to understand. While the subject matter is complex this book manages to simplify it and attract the attention of children by having the story told by the main character sitting and talking to his mum.

The story comes to life with very colourful illustrations which are able to clearly and vividly show the emotions of the characters. Some of them take up a whole page and my children could easily identify what was happening in the story and what the characters were feeling. The artist responsible is Jennifer Zivoin.

I just don’t know how I managed to miss this book all these years.  This story is aimed at autistic children between 5 -8 years’ old which seems correct depending on the child and their parents will also definitely benefit from reading it as well. 

Blurb

“Nobody gets me, Mama!” In all my stripes, Zane the zebra feels different from the rest of his classmates. He worries that all they notice about him is his “autism stripe.” With the help of his Mama, Zane comes to appreciate all his stripes – the unique strengths that make him who he is. 

Review by my older son and myself

First of all, as I said before, I wish I had found this book before but as I always tell myself it is never too late to read a book. The book tells us the story of a little zebra called Zane who has had a bad day and has been asked by his mum what happened. Zane tells his mum about all the bad things that happened to him and the difficulties that he had during the day. He had a very hard time during social situations and with sensory processing challenges, he tells his mum how he didn’t understand what his professor meant when he said ‘whatever floats your boat’ and how confused he felt after that. He tells his mum about all these experiences and how they made him feel and we see how his mum reacts and how well she explains that he has many amazing qualities that makes him unique and special.

This book lets you see the day to day struggles that children with autism face and how they feel after they fail to understand certain situations or when what they say isn’t understood and how the support of family can have a great impact in their lives.

My oldest son’s first reaction when we finished reading the story was to turn to me and say ‘he is just like me’ and I actually couldn’t stop myself from crying.  He described the book as a bit sad and he felt identified with Zane. He told me he had similar stripes as Zane but as well different ones. My oldest son knows he is different but he is happy and friendly.

Families can sometimes feel overwhelmed with certain behaviours and situations that their kids face and this book provides a great ‘additional reading guide’ at the end of the book as well as some advice and for parents and carers which was very helpful.  The information it gives about websites to visit is mostly U.S based and some ideas and the language used is for an America audience but this isn’t a huge issue. Every country has their own way dealing with autism but as far as individual families go we all face similar difficulties and concerns and we all look for information and try to find the right support for our children and their individual needs.

If anyone would like to get a copy of this lovely book in the UK you can find it on ‘Book Depository’ and it is available as a paperback or Hardback. I actually looked for this book in a few bookshops and on Amazon but luckily I was able to find it.

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