Adiba Nelsons’ feisty protagonist ClaraBelle Blue from her debut children’s book “Meet ClaraBelle Blue”, is a beautiful black girl who loves everything any little girl her age does. Making new friends, playing on the playground, ribbons and bows and her mama tickling her toes.
ClaraBelle Blue just happens to be in a wheelchair. And as the story progresses—in a charming sing-song cadence school age children and early readers love and richly illustrated by Elvira Moranado—the book goes on to show that though ClaraBelle Blue may have some special needs, the things that are most important to her we all share.
As a parent of black children, I’m always on the hunt for books featuring people of color. Countless psychologists attest an immense benefit to self-image comes from children seeing people like themselves reflected in the stories they read.
This marvelous softcover not only delighted my young daughter with a bold, black female character she could relate to. Her older brother is dyslexic and has ADD. He has some accommodations in school, he understands everyone is unique and may have their own challenges to a greater or lesser degree.
He loved ClaraBell’s plucky, can-do spirt as well. It started a conversation about what special accommodations ClaraBelle Blue may need or have at her school. My kids have friends who require special accommodations at school and understand some daily tasks might take a bit longer. ClaraBelle Blue’s wheelchair didn’t stop her from loving, learning or having fun with the new friends she made. My daughter also made a great observation that ClaraBelle Blue has special needs AND special talents.
“Everybody is better at somethings than others. Everybody needs help sometimes. She’s in a wheelchair, we got ramps in my school, but she’s got special talents because she can do things that I can’t do. She can play duck-duck-goose in a wheelchair! I can’t do that!”
Children’s empathy towards others also benefit tremendously when home libraries are diverse. Reflecting different cultures, genders and ability levels. Today, there still exists a shocking disparity. According to statistics gathered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, of the estimated 5,000 Children’s books published in 2013 only 68 were authored by black authors and 93 featured a black character. Kids with special needs are represented even less so.
I encourage all parents and teachers to seek out diverse books and authors like Adiba and her terrific book “Meet ClaraBelle Blue”. They need our support and all our kids (and we adults) greatly benift from different perspectives. I firmly believe in children literatures function as both a mirror for our children to recognize what’s special, great and powerful within themselves and a window that opens young minds and hearts to a wider world.
All children need self-love and compassion for others. We can learn about our differences, celebrate our uniqueness and have fun sharing all we have in common. Which was the lesson of “Meet ClaraBelle Blue”.
“Meet ClaraBelle Blue” was a fun read for my kids with a great protagonist from an underrepresented population that encouraged further dialogue, which is my litmus test for any book. The conversations I had with my kids illustrates to me why more of these books are needed in all Children’s libraries.
I thank Adiba so much for her inspiring, stellar first effort! My daughter, son and I look forward to further adventures featuring ClaraBelle Blue in the future!
It’s available on Amazon Prime—just hit the link below! You’re welcome!
About the Author
Adiba Nelson is mom to a beautiful daughter with Cerebral Palsy, and she is a disability rights and inclusion advocate. She is also a freelance writer for various online outlets, such as The Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, and My Brown Baby.
Image credits – the author / Elvira Moranado