The Bottom Line
Edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Heather McNamara, and Karen Simmons; 332 pages. Subtitle: Stories of Love and Understanding for Those Who Care for Children With Disabilities.
If you've ever read a Chicken Soup book, you know what's waiting for you here -- close to 100 stories, each just two or three pages long, telling tales to warm your heart. In this volume, the stories are about children with special needs, and indeed, they are an inspiring bunch. Even if you're usually unmoved by Chicken Soup stories, you may find some tears brewing here. Let them fall. It feels good.
- Stories encompass a range of disabilities and ages
- Positive focus is consistently encouraging
- Many of the stories are humorous as well as hopeful
- Seems less maudlin than some of the other Chicken Soup books
- Short items mean you can easily read as much as you have time for
- Some of the stories do slip into the "magic disabled person" trap
- Stories by outsiders seem less meaningful to me than the ones by parents and family members
- You may wish people were showing your child and family that love and understanding
- Part 1: Adjusting
- Part 2: Gratitude
- Part 3: Milestones
- Part 4: Breaking Barriers
- Part 5: Community
- Part 6: Sibling Revelry
- Part 7: Early Learning
- Part 8: Fostering Independence
Guide Review - Book Review: Chicken Soup for the Soul - Children With Special Needs
My daughter is an avid reader of Chicken Soup books. In fact, it's about all she'll read. Her learning and language problems make most reading experiences no fun, but Chicken Soup books strike a cord -- and if my girl is going to actually ask me to buy her a book, I'm sure going to do it.
Personally, though, I've not been a fan of the series. I've read some of the teen-centered versions with book groups in my kids' middle school, and always found them fairly heavy-handed. And really, heavy-handed is probably appropriate for teenagers; the experience was just no fun for me.
And so it was with mixed emotions that I picked up Chicken Soup for the Soul - Children With Special Needs. I'm always up for a little love and understanding, but would I find a bunch of unsubtle "disabled people exist to teach us lessons" essays? Three-hundred-plus pages of tearjerking is a lot to take on.
But I forged ahead, and was quickly absorbed. Yeah, some of the essays are manipulative or inspiring in a fabricated way, but many many more are genuine, enchanting, true to life, and honestly tear-inducing. I especially enjoyed the ones by parents, being a parent myself, but there were others that worked as well.
I had myself a good little cry over some of these, and there's nothing wrong with that. But what I appreciated most, in these times when so many memoirs dwell on the overwhelming hardness of special-needs parenting, was the relentlessly positive tone of all of these essays. That is, indeed, a comforting dose of Chicken Soup. Dish some up for yourself next time you're feeling a little sorry.