New library books are a special collection for special readers

By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein The Press-Tribune
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When Jen DeMuth learned her child, Zoie, had cerebral palsy, she wanted to read everything she could get her hands on about raising a child with special needs. But information was hard to come by, including at her local book repository. “There wasn’t much at all, so I went off on my own,” said DeMuth, a library employee whose daughter is 8 years old. Now, parents like DeMuth will be a little better off thanks to a special collection at the Martha Riley Community Library. The Access Collection debuted Monday with nearly 70 items – from picture books to DVDs and young adult novels – designed to serve the needs of special-needs children and their parents, teachers and siblings. “We tried to get a variety of materials to benefit pretty much everyone involved with a person with a disability,” said librarian Rachael Prouse. That includes books like “Special People, Special Ways,” a picture book to generate understanding for children with disabilities; “The Sibling Slam Book,” designed to help siblings deal with the emotions of having a special-needs brother or sister; and parent guides for navigating the public school system and financial planning. There are also young-adult books specially suited for special-needs adolescents (so-called “high-interest, low vocabulary” books), which boast the same sophisticated themes as non-special-needs books but have a vocabulary tailored to their readers, who are often reading at a lower level than their peers. That’s important Prouse said, because often special-needs adolescents can be turned off when steered to books meant for younger children – and that could leave a long-term negative impact. “If you’re older, you’re not going to want to read picture books,” Prouse said. The collection was funded by a $1,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Roseville’s community giving committee. Rotary member Steve Lund said the collection is an example of how the club gives back to the community. “Helping people with disabilities is critically important and Rotary’s all about finding needs and trying to do them,” he said. Lesli Goto, a library staffer and member of the committee that selected the books for the Access Collection, said the library hopes to expand it over time. “It’s a great start,” she said. The items are currently on display at the Riley library and available for checkout.