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LOOKING FORWARD: Grow Self-Esteem for Children with Limb Loss and Limb Difference

Adapted from the Amputee Coalition Fact Sheet on Resources to Help Children Understand Limb Loss and Limb Difference

Reading encourages children’s imaginations to grow and opens their world to new people, places, and possibilities. Reading books about difficult concepts, such as limb loss and limb difference, is a safe and familiar way to introduce children to the topic.

These books can help a child with limb difference or limb loss have greater self-esteem as they can identify with characters that “look like me” or are “different like me.” Children can find encouragement to talk about their limb difference openly and answer questions from friends. Some books even help explain how to be fitted for a prosthesis. These books can also be useful for easing fears that children often have about upcoming medical procedures or recovery for themselves, their friends, or an adult in their life.

While each of these books is different, a shared theme throughout is that people with limb loss are still just people and have a lot in common with others.

Some adults with limb loss visit classrooms and libraries for story time to help children learn about living with a disability and what it is like to be an amputee. Books often get kids talking and asking questions. This is an opportunity to teach acceptance and to reinforce the old adage that “different is not bad; different is just different.”

Most of the resources below can be purchased online by searching for the title or by ordering from your local bookseller.


5 Fingers and 10 Toes
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 14, 2016).
By Dawn Civitello (author), Francisco Villa (illustrator)

In hopes of spreading awareness to young children and families about limb deficiencies that exist among peers. This book is a great way to explain to children that differences exist and it’s OK to be different; everyone should be accepted for who they are!!

5 Fingers and 10 Toes: Jo-Jo Goes to School
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 1, 2017).
By Dawn Civitello (author), Francisco Villa (illustrator).

A story about a young boy who was born with a limb difference (missing his left hand). This story takes us along on his journey of entering school for the very first time. This story was written by Joseph Angelo’s mom in hopes of helping other children and families address and ease any worries or concerns they may have when entering a new situation.

Amputeddy Meets Nubby Bear
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC (June 4, 2012).
By Jean Boelter (author), Kate Policani (author), Marta Creswell (illustrator).
Kindle/digital only.

At the park, Amputeddy meets a new friend who is missing an arm. They play together and become friends. While they play, they compare their experiences and trials as amputee kids with their special outlook on life. They are glad to meet another little bear who knows what it is like to be a little different.

Amputeddy books are designed to voice the feelings of children who have an amputation or know someone who does. Todd’s experiences pave the way for communication and understanding.

Boo-Boo’s New Leg: A True Story of Illness, Acceptance, and Healing
AuthorHouse (January 25, 2011).
ISBN-10: 9781456715458 ISBN-13: 978-1456715458.
By Mary Garcia (author).

Sarah is 10 years old. She tells the story of how her grown-up friend is very sick and medicines don’t seem to help her too much. Her foot is bandaged, and she can’t get around without the help of a wheelchair and crutches. Sarah is saddened to see her friend in pain. Her friend must go to the hospital to have a special operation, called an amputation, to cure her illness. This is no ordinary or easy operation. But although her life will be forever changed, she will inspire a positive way of thinking in those around her with the greatest gifts one can have: laughter and friendship.

The Cherry Blossom Kids and the Three-legged Dog
Steveedee Publishing Co. (August 1, 2007).
ISBN-10: 0977498204 ISBN-13: 978-0977498208.
By Dr. Yvette C. Ross Hebron (author), Harold H. Hebron (author).

The Cherry Blossom Kids and the Three-Legged Dog is a story about children with disabilities. The story tells how they adapt efficiently to their impairment(s), allowing them to function in the world and live productive lives. The Cherry Blossom Kids represent the everyday lives of many children with impairments. One child has a congenital amputation of the arm, one has spina bifida, one has cerebral palsy, one has congenital cataracts, and the other is accident-prone. Their dog has only three legs. The story depicts the Cherry Blossom Kids’ positive attitude, how they play, and how they participate in activities that parallel that of the able-bodied child. Along with the three-legged dog, they are living and enjoying life.

Different Is Awesome
Mascot Books (July 7, 2015).
ISBN-10: 1631772155  ISBN-13: 978-1631772153.
By Ryan Haack(author), Wes Molebash (illustrator).

A little boy brings his older brother, born with one hand, for show-and-tell. The students ask him all sorts of questions about how he does things with one hand and realize that he can do anything they can do — he just does it differently. Along the way, they notice that we’re all different in one way or another, leading to the realization that not only are differences a similarity we all share, but they are also what makes us unique — and awesome!

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Schwartz & Wade (January 6, 2015).
ISBN-10: 044981744X  ISBN-13: 978-0449817445.
By Laurie Ann Thompson (author), Sean Qualls (illustrator).

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people — but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than 2 miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age 13 to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing 400 miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: Disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of people with disabilities.

Harry and Willy and Carrothead
Greenwillow Books; First edition, first printing edition (March 18, 1991).
ISBN-10: 0688094929 ISBN-13: 978-0688094928.
By Judith Caseley (author, illustrator).

Harry was born with no left hand. When he got to school, the kids asked him what was wrong with his arm. “Nothing,” said Harry. “That’s my prosthesis.” Harry’s hand didn’t keep him from being a good baseball player — or a good friend. Harry and Willy and Carrothead are three of the most real kids you are apt to meet between book covers, and you will like them as much as they like each other!

I Have a Doll Just Like You!
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (February 14, 2017).
ISBN-10: 153520611X ISBN-13: 978-1535206112.
By Julie Ann Zitterkopf Larson, MD (author), Jacqueline Kerr (illustrator).

I Have a Doll Just Like You! is a children’s story about amputation and limb deficiency. It was written with the goal of teaching children that people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities. This book is a fictional, illustrated story for children about a little boy with a congenital amputation of his left arm. It also includes a glossary of amputee terminology, a letter to parents and teachers, and a series of discussion starters for families and classrooms. All of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to send children with limb difference to amputee camp.

Knockin’ on Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates
Lee & Low Books; Reprint edition (September 1, 2012).
ISBN-10: 1600609805  ISBN-13: 978-1600609800.
By Lynne Barasch (author).

Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates was one of the legendary tap dancers of the 20th century. As a young boy, Clayton loved to dance, but when he lost his left leg in a factory accident at age 12, no one thought he would ever walk again, let alone dance. But Clayton’s musical spirit was still alive. Soon he was dancing again, first using crutches, then a peg leg. Within a short time, his peg leg matched the dancing ability of his other leg. Peg Leg Bates performed throughout the United States and Europe, winning the hearts of audiences with his unique style of dancing. He was an amazing showstopper and an inspiration to everyone he met. With determination and a love of life, he turned misfortune into triumph. His most lasting achievement might just be the extraordinary example he set for us all.

Let’s Go
FriesenPress (December 21, 2018).
ISBN-10: 1525539760  ISBN-13: 978-1525539763.
By Brenda E. Koch (author).

What makes you unique? For some of us, part of what makes us unique is that we need help doing the sorts of things that other people do without thinking. Bobby is just like that. Sometimes, he wears a prosthesis to help him walk; other times, he needs a wheelchair to get around. It can be hard for some of us to imagine what that would be like, but Bobby is happy to explain his experiences. Along the way, Bobby explains big words like “prosthetics” and “accessibility.” He wants to help us understand what it’s like to live with a disability, so that we won’t be afraid of, or feel bad for, people who are different from us. Come along as Bobby demonstrates how we are all just people, and we can all be friends. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s Go!

Let’s Play
FriesenPress (December 3, 2018).
ISBN-10: 1525539744  ISBN-13: 978-1525539749.
By Brenda E. Koch (author).

Everyone is unique. That is one of many things we all have in common. Some of us have two arms and two legs, and some of us don’t. Some of us can see and hear, and some of us can’t. We are all different from one another in many ways, but we are all perfect just the way we are. Bobby is special. He has only one eye, one ear, and one leg, but Bobby is not broken — he is just unique. And he is excited to meet you! So, what are we waiting for? Let’s Play!

Little Arm and Me
Vision Works Publishing.
ISBN-10: 978-0-9816254-2-3.
By Mutiya Vision (author), DeAriesha (illustrator).

Kiomi is a very “handy” and “capable” girl born with a little arm. As she works to find her purpose in the world, her example helps others realize that her potential goes far beyond her physical limitations. Kiomi doesn’t let the world’s limited perception of her influence how she sees herself. As she overcomes challenges, she learns to find value in the masterpiece she was born to be. Since she was created to be in the spotlight, Kiomi decides to be an inspiration by living a life filled with love, courage, and accomplishment.

Little Miss Jessica Goes to School
Jessica Smith; (January 1, 2017).
ISBN-10: 0994327528 ISBN-13: 978-0994327529.
By Jessica Smith (author), Joel Blakeley (illustrator).

Little Miss Jessica is a series of children’s books that focus on accepting differences, disability awareness and positive body image. The first book in the series is titled Little Miss Jessica Goes to School and is about Jessica’s very first day. She experiences what it is like to feel different because of her appearance, but by the end of her first day at school, Jessica and all the other students in her class realize that being different is OK! This is a fabulous book for all children to read. It allows young children the opportunity to read about characters that represent what and who they see in real life.

Uniquely Brave
Mascot Books (May 2, 2017).
ISBN-10: 1511609664  ISBN-13: 978-1511609661.
By Trace Wilson (author).

Every child worries about being different. Follow one brave little boy as he embarks on a wild adventure and learns to understand, accept, and love the differences that make him unique.

Visit the National Limb Loss Resource Center for more resources available to people of all ages living with limb loss or limb difference. Go to

Amputee Coalition. Resources to Help Children Understand Limb Loss Fact Sheet. Published November 2021. Accessed [February 6, 2022].