"Oh, Brother!" book cover“My son Jamie is struggling with issues concerning his brother, who has the dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and Autism. We had hardly gotten through the first chapter when Jamie’s jaw dropped and he said, ‘There are other kids just like me going through the same stuff!’ It has already been therapeutic for both of us.”

-R.T., OH

“I went to your presentation yesterday in Manchester, NH and bought ‘Oh, Brother!’ for my twelve year old son to read. He DEVOURED it. And then we had a great conversation. Today he said it ‘inspired’ him. Thank you!”

–M.S., NH

“When some one in your family is different and needs understanding, siblings cope or do not, but all are affected. This sibling is heroic and loving. Thank you for sharing.”

–D.B., Amazon.com

“This is a great book that explores the difficulties and blessings of having a sibling with special needs.”

–inidabassettee, LibraryThing.com

“This book is a first-person account by Becca, a girl whose older brother has an unnamed disability that leaves him unable to understand simple directions or even basic household rules, but is able to play, watch videos, and do puzzles with her. Thirteen chapters cover issues relevant to able-bodied siblings of disabled children, such as competing for parental attention, bringing friends home, dealing with frustration, participation in sibling care, and peer support groups. The upbeat focus is on her and her parents’ ability to cope, her brother’s gifts and abilities, and the life lessons one learns through living with disabled loved ones, such as patience and inner strength.

–D.D-G., American Psychological Association

“The book, ‘Oh Brother, Growing Up with a Special Needs Sibling’ is a great resource for parents, teachers, and librarians for it explains what one feels growing up with a brother or sister who has a disability.

Written by Natalie Hale, the author portrays a ten-year-old girl living with her mother, father, and older brother Jonathan who appears to have Down syndrome. While Becca loves her older brother, she describes how frustrating it can sometimes be living with an older brother who is different than her. One struggle Becca discusses is feeling like she is second best in her family, “Having a special needs sibling sometimes feels like you’re sitting on the family sidelines just watching the show” (18). Although this book is written from a 10 year old perspective, I believe it covers important topics that could relate to any child–older or younger.

From the point-of-view of an educator, I would use this short book in conjunction with a lesson on being different and expressing feelings; if there was a student in the class who had a brother/sister with a disability I would use this book to explain to the other students the situation. I believe that it is important for all students to be aware of disabilities that may appear in or outside a school setting. With the increase of inclusion in mainstream classrooms, it is likely that students will encounter a peer who has a disability, and this book helps describe some common behaviors that may occur; “He [Jonathan] was bored… noticed the red handle on the wall… Yank!” (9). Jonathan saw the emergency handle on wall at school and pulled it because he understood the words “pull down” and did as he read. While this behavior is deemed inappropriate for a general education student, a student with a disability may not understand the different social expectations without being told directly.

I specifically liked this book for its honest portrayal of the emotions of a student with a brother or sister with a disability. Not only did the book focus on how Jonathan was different, it also focused on his positive attributes to his family. It didn’t speak badly about students with disabilities, and it was a clear and easily understood book. Additionally, I enjoyed how the author added the chapters ‘Take a Break’ and ‘Getting My Feelings Out’. These two chapters described how Becca dealt with her brother Jonathan and his differences. These tactics could be taught to students so they are able to control their emotions without mentally or physically hurting another student. Overall, I believe this book had several positive attributes and could be used to teach about inclusion or students who may be a little different than others!”

–Lauren, Amazon.com