Last year I read a book titled Rain Reign, by Ann Martin, which was selected for the 2017 Oklahoma Children's Sequoyah list. It was the story of Rose, her father (struggling on his own to understand and raise Rose), a stray dog, a hurricane, and Rose's uncle. It was a very well-written book and dealt with some difficult topics that had the book hovering between an upper elementary read and a YA selection. I highly recommend it to 5th-7th grade readers.
However, this left me wondering: what can I recommend as a good book with a neurodiverse character for those younger elementary-aged readers? Now I have one; A Boy Called Bat, by Elena K. Arnold. This book is charming. You will love how all the characters in this book are dynamic; there are no cookie-cutter characters with standard, stereotypical traits. The book is so good because of this. In addition, its simple, though surprisingly, elegant language makes it accessible to readers as early as 2nd grade. This book is going to be great as a class set to get those younger grades talking and thinking about what they read.
Bat's mom is a veterinarian and she has brought home an orphaned baby skunk. She tells Bat they are only keeping it for a month so it can get strong enough to be released. Bat has other plans. He decides to prove to his mother that he is the skunk's best option for a good future, and that a skunk will make a great pet. Along the way, he also has to deal with his exasperated older sister and the back-and-forth of alternating weekends with Dad, an experience relatable to many children.
You'll fall in love with Bat and his family; you will also get frustrated along with them as they deal with the same lessons all families deal with. This is a great book about learning to respect each other's differences. It also shows how every family has struggles, and no matter how ordinary the struggles, what's extraordinary is the amount of love, respect and understanding each family finds to hold itself together.
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