FAITH NEWS SERVICE – “No matter their story, every child has the right to thrive,”1 declares the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which champions the rights, needs, and values of disabled people.
Over 200 million children live with long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments leading to functional difficulties. In addition to the CRPD, Jesus admonished his followers to “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14 NLT).
Robin Marie Johnson has worked in education for over thirty years as an early childhood coordinator, preschool teacher, and para-educator, serving and learning from students with special needs. Her new picture book, The Adventures of Sammy the Cat: Brave, Kind, Different (Redemption Press) beautifully depicts how children can thrive while living with disabilities and demonstrate God’s love as life challenges help develop their character.
Born different with one stubby leg and a blind eye, Sammy the cat looks forward to making friends when he moves to a new neighborhood. Labeled a “loser” by another cat, Sammy realizes he is different for the first time and wonders why he was born that way. Wise mama cat reminds him to focus on his “superpowers” of courage and kindness.
Then the bully cat finds himself in a precarious situation, and Sammy has a chance to save the day.
“Working as a para-educator with students who struggle has given me a heart for the underdog,” says Johnson, who is also the writer, producer, and host of the Different Isn’t Bad podcast for kids. “It is important that children all over the world know that their differences are what makes them stronger.
They are accepted by God, even with their physical or emotional differences. And, embracing the uniqueness of whom God created them to be, they can use those differences as “superpowers.”
In Sammy’s story, children will see that “difference” and “disability” don’t mean less. Instead, they provide opportunities to grow in character and help them gain a unique insight into other people’s lives.
As Sammy said at the end of his adventure, “He felt different because he was different. He was brave and kind, which was the best kind of different!” This “superpowered” picture book assures all children who are “different” of their value in God’s loving eyes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robin Marie Johnson has worked in education for over thirty years as an early childhood coordinator, preschool teacher, and para-educator, serving and learning from students with special needs. She is the writer, producer, and host of the Different Isn’t Bad podcast for kids. Robin lives in Arizona with her husband Keith, her three adult children and their spouses, and her incredible grandchildren. She enjoys reading, listening to music, and spending time with family and friends.
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