High Fives and A Big Heart is the second book in our series ~ written and illustrated by kids for other kids ~ about having a friend with a disability. Jeffrey (second from the right, above) and his fourth grade friends understand the importance of their story and the potential it has to encourage friendships among kids with and without disabilities. To quote a page from their book, “All kids are different…so kids with disabilities are no different than us.” While his friends titled the book as a tribute to Jeffrey and their words clearly demonstrate their appreciation and affection for him, before this project most were unaware he had Down syndrome, making this story even more beautiful.
The publication of High Fives and A Big Heart was made possible by several generous donations, including a significant grant from the Alexandria Township Education Foundation(ATEF). Like Our Friend Mikayla, this book is a valuable tool for teachers and parents. It provides background knowledge of what it is like to have a disability and is an exemplary representation of the type of valuable dialogue that should be initiated in every home and classroom. It beautifully demonstrates children’s capacity for understanding, acceptance and compassion, and will serve as a springboard for further discussion in schools and homes.
Approximately 1400 copies of High Fives and A Big Heart have been gifted by ATEF for donation to every public school in Jeffrey’s home state of New Jersey. In need of mailing and distribution costs, Mikayla’s Voice applied for a grant from the NY Tri-State Area Ronald McDonald House Charities, who approved funding for this purpose in June 2012. Thanks to their generosity, books were mailed to school principals that summer, with a request that High Fives and A Big Heart be shared with each classroom ~ so that it may be read to every elementary student in the state ~ before finding a permanent home in the school libraries. The success of this program depends upon Jeffrey and his classmates’ message being heard by other kids.
If you live in New Jersey and wish to help share the message of inclusion, call the principal at your local school and offer to come in to read High Fives and A Big Heart to your child’s classroom. If you live outside NJ, please consider purchasing a copy of the book for donation to your local school(s) and/or libraries(s). Mikayla’s Voice continues to seek grants for the donation of these books to elementary schools. Anyone interested in statewide, regional, or national donation should contact us.
Order your copy of High Fives and A Big Heart, and be sure to share it with all the kids in your life! $15/book