A Look at a New Children’s Book Series Featuring “Differently-Abled” Kids

In Recognition of “National Read Across America Day (3/2/15)—A Look at a New Children’s Book Series Featuring “Differently-Abled” Kids

Rick O’Brien, a chemistry teacher at the University of South Alabama, was inspired by his son Connor to write a children’s book featuring “differently-abled” kids.

The reason—- O’Brien saw other children’s reactions to 11 year-old son Connor’s wheelchair. O’Brien sensed that children seemed afraid to see people in wheelchairs, because it was unfamiliar to them and they had lots of questions. He wanted to help answer those questions and make children aware that having special needs means having unique gifts that make someone differently-abled, not disabled.

The result of Connor’s inspiration has been a series of books entitled; “CJ and the Angel Kids”. The mystery books spotlight five children; CJ who has cerebral palsy, Dee Dee who has Down Syndrome, Andy who has autism, Stu who has dyslexia and Rosie who stutters.

In each book, the children visit different camps and participate in solving mysteries.

The first book; “CJ and the Angel Kids: The Case of the Missing Cookies” was published in February 2014, and was followed by “CJ and the Angel Kids: Tale of the Talker” in November 2014. The third book in the series; “CJ and the Angel Kids: Mystery of the Medals” is expected to be published this spring. Three additional books are in also in the works as well.

O’Brien has collaborated on the books with people such as speech therapists and student illustrators. All of the proceeds from the sale of the books benefit United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile Alabama.

O’Brien’s mission has been to let kids know that children with special abilities (“angel kids”) can teach others about hope, courage, adversity and the strength to overcome obstacles. He also hopes that those angel kids themselves realize how very special they are.

For more information on the “CJ and the Angel Kids” series, or to purchase the books, please visit the CJ and the Angel Kids Facebook page.

For suggestions on other books for children and young adult books featuring differently-abled characters, check out these resources:

A Book Long Enough


Institute for Humane Education

Albert Whitman & Company

For more information on National Read Across America Day, being held on Monday, March 2, 2015, please visit the National Education Association website.