Happy Book Birthday: WE WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL: The Fight for Disability Rights PLUS Giveaway

HURRAY!!! Another new book!!! And this one is written by one of my favorite CPs, Maryann Cocca Leffler. And woo-hoo – there is a GIVEAWAY!!

Written by Maryann Cocca-Leffler & Janine Leffler – Illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Here’s a little bit about the book from Amazon:
There was a time in the United States when millions of children with disabilities weren’t allowed to go to public school. But in 1971, seven kids and their families wanted to do something about it. They knew that every child had a right to an equal education, so they went to court to fight for that right. The case Mills v. Board of Education of the District of Columbia led to laws ensuring children with disabilities would receive a free, appropriate public education. Told in the voice of Janine Leffler, one of the millions of kids who went to school because of these laws, this book shares the true story of this landmark case.

Dear friends…we are so lucky because the lovely Maryann stopped by to chat with us and give us an inside peek of the story behind the story…and the path to publication for this very important book!

New Children’s Book on Disability Rights

I Want to Go to School! The Fight for Disabilities Rights, is a nonfiction children’s book about a little-known 1971 court case that paved the way for students with disabilities to go to public schools. Do you believe that before 1972 kids with disabilities were denied a public-school education? It’s true.

What inspired you to write this book?

MCL: I have been a disability rights advocate since my daughter, Janine, was born with CP (Cerebral Palsy) in 1985. Her journey became my world and as an author & illustrator of children’s books, I tried hard to sell books on the topic of disabilities over the years. (Every child wants to see themselves in books!) It was not until recently that publishers began to embrace equality and equity, and are now seeking books which champion disability awareness. Finally, the time had arrived to get the word out about the History and Heroes of Disability Rights.

What drew you to this topic?

MCL: I have been researching the history of education for children with disabilities for years, and to be honest, it is a very sad history, one filled with discrimination, segregation and abuse. Children with disabilities were legally excluded from public schools until the mid 1970’s.  I Want to Go to School! The Fight for Disability Rights is a true story about seven brave children with disabilities and their families who stood up and said, “ENOUGH”. These children wanted to go to public school with everyone else. The book highlights the 1971 court case, Mills v. Board of Education of the District of Columbia, which changed everything when the judge ruled in favor of the children. This case, and others like it, paved the way for a 1975 Federal law ensuring that children with disabilities all across the country had the right to attend public school and get a free appropriate education.

JL: And that is where I came in. When my mom told me about the history, I realized that if it wasn’t for these brave families, my life could have been very different. The story is told in my voice, as I talk about my early years in public school where I received therapies and accommodations to help me succeed in school. Unlike children with disabilities before 1972, I was able to learn side-by side with my peers.

MCL: Exactly. Janine’s perspective and character in the book are important. It is through her voice that the reader understands the impact that this case had on history; and how it helped her and other students with disabilities gain an education.

What was the most interesting information you found throughout the course of your research?

MCL: Great question. Two things:  

First, it amazed me how many children were denied an education and were forced to stay home or in institutions. The 1971 Mills Case not only represented these 7 children, but became a class-action suit representing 18,000 children with disabilities in the Washington DC area who were not allowed in school. Even more amazing, at that time there were 8 MILLION children in the United States who were not getting an education because of their disabilities.

Secondly, I was very fortunate to connect with the last surviving lawyer on the Mills Case, Attorney Paul R. Dimond. He shared firsthand insight into this landmark case and graciously wrote a wonderful note in the book. The children, their families, the Judge and the Lawyers were all heroes. Attorney Dimond coined the phrase, “The Quiet Revolution” because this milestone case and its judgment went unnoticed; no press, no rallies. I’m very happy to have been able to bring this story to light, a moment in history that went on to help change many lives.

Do you hope that this book will inspire others to get involved in Disability Rights Activism?

MCL: Absolutely. Learning the History of Disability Rights and seeing how people united to fight for change, shows how important it is for people to join together to have their voices heard. There is still a lot of injustice in the world for people with disabilities and laws that need to be improved. Make your voice heard.

For more information visit:
http://www.maryanncoccaleffler.com and http://www.JaninesParty.com
Twitter- @mcleffler
Instagram – @maryanncoccaleffler

A HUGE THANK YOU TO MARYANN AND JANINE!!! For writing this much needed book…and for sharing so many insights with us…and for the generous giveaway!
Please remember that the best way to tell authors that you love their books is to buy them, review them, tell friends about them, and ask your local library to purchase copies for their collection.

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway! Maybe you can tell us what you loved/hated most about school when you were a kid.

19 thoughts on “Happy Book Birthday: WE WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL: The Fight for Disability Rights PLUS Giveaway

  1. I can’t wait to read this important book. When I was a kid, there were no children with disabilities in my classes. I’m extremely grateful for the determined, courageous families featured in this book who paved the way for my daughter with disabilities to be included and supported in the regular classrooms all through her education.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an important book! Just to educate all of us, on inequalities that existed recently, and how even just a few voices can make a big change! Wonderful that kids who face these challenges now have the same opportunities as someone who doesn’t. Thank you MaryAnne and Janine!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This book is going to be more than eye-opening to me. I enjoyed this interview and am adding this book to my must read list. Thank you for the chance to win a copy. As far as my school experiences go, I loved seeing my friends every school day and it saddens me to think so many kids were being denied this simple pleasure of learning with friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow this is such an important part of history and I’m so glad there’s a book sharing it. I can’t wait to read it with my children.
    I loved my English classes in school because writing was my favorite. School was hard for me, though, because I was shy and struggled with my confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing! I’m always excited to learn about books that highlight important achievements in our country’s past. It saddens me to know that so many kids were denied the right to learn alongside their peers in school. So glad this book is out in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We could learn so much from kids. When there is a child with a disability attending a small school, the kids generally accept them as they are. It isn’t until they leave that bubble that they begin to realize they are different. But there is sooooo much more sameness!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. MARYANN AND JANINE: THANK YOU for bringing to light this important story! I am especially excited to see it through the eyes of someone so personally affected by the outcome of 1971 case. This is a TRULY WONDERFUL story to show how kids can make a difference. I am also SO IN LOVE with the illustrations and their childlike qualities. BEAUTIFULLY done! THANK YOU!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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