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My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy

Last updated Monday, February 5, 2018

Author: Shaila and Aanyah Abdullah
Date of Publication: 2014
ISBN: 161599212X
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Feb. 2018

Synopsis: A simple tale of love and friendship to warm your heart.

Award-winning author and designer Shaila Abdullah teams up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah to bring you this heartwarming tale of a little girl who forms a close bond with a child with cerebral palsy. The girl finds that through her art, she can reach her special friend Suhana.

Note to readers:
•  Suggestion: before you read the story, read "About Cerebral Palsy and Special Friendships" (the second to last page of the book).
•  Go over the definition of "Cerebral Palsy" and "Disability" first, and discuss the kids' thoughts before and after the story.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  How many friends do you have? How are they different from each other?
(Adult reader can give examples from own life like: I have a friend with curly hair and another with straight hair, I have a friend who uses a wheelchair, and another friend who has a dog who helps her get from place to place...)
•  Some of your friends could have disabilities (see definition below). It is a way of being different, like you and your friends are different from each other. We are going to read a story today about a friend who is different, because she has a disability called cerebral palsy (see definition below).


•  Disability- A disability is a physical or mental condition that makes it difficult or impossible for a person to walk, see, hear, speak, learn, or do other important things. Examples: a person who cannot walk, a person who is blind...
•  Cerebral- Having to do with the brain.
•  Palsy- Having a problem with moving
•  Cerebral Palsy- A disability caused by a certain kind of brain damage. Our brain tells our muscles what to do. Cerebral Palsy makes it hard for the brain to do that, and that makes it hard for someone with cerebral palsy to use their muscles.
•  Anxiety- When something or someone makes you nervous

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  It’s really tough when your body can’t do everything you want it to do. But everyone has some activities that are easy for them, and some that require more effort. Kids are all different, and they have different strengths and talents as well as things that are harder for them. Whenever you see someone who might be having a hard time, they’re still kids who need friends and understanding
•  How was the main character a good friend to Suhana? How can you be a good friend?

Citations and Additional Reading for Volunteers

•  My Child without Limits: How to Explain Disability to a Child
•  The Mighty: How to Talk to your Kids about Disabilities

Craft ideas:
•  Make a kite (like on pg 10)
•  Color your moods- what color is "happy" for you? "Mad?" "Excited?"
•  Draw a picture for a friend.
•  Make a Valentine Card for your best friend or someone you love.
•  Check our February craft ideas on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!