March 25, 2011

After my daughter was born, one of my mother’s sisters found the book Gifts and purchased several copies to send to the women in my family, including my sisters, my mom, and another aunt.  Gifts is a collection of heartfelt essays by mothers of children with Down syndrome.  As the title suggests, the overall premise of the book is that our children are gifts – ones we never expected – but treasures nonetheless.

The essays fall under five themes: the gifts of Respect, Strength, Delight, Perspective, and Love.  It’s a perfect book for a new parent as you can pick it up and put it down, learning about each family and child as you feel ready or find the time.  For me, the first weeks brought trips back and forth to the hospital and nights alone without my baby.  I was able to read snippets of the book as I tried to imagine what our new life was going to be like.

This is definitely a favourite early book for parents who have received a diagnosis.  There is a whole range of emotions covered and a parent is surely able to find a number of stories that relate to what he or she is experiencing.  Accompanied by lovely photographs of the children, Gifts helps a parent see that life does indeed go on, differently than before, but with equal beauty and wonder.

Most importantly, the book celebrates the amazing children who inspired it.  My favourite line in the book is on page 175 when a big brother is quoted as saying, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every family had a kid with Down syndrome?”  At the time I first read it, I probably thought that that was a bit naïve.  Now I know he is absolutely right — it is wonderful to have a kid with Down syndrome in the family.  And like the other children in this book, mine is also a gift. 

Suggested for: Libraries specializing in health resources for families of kids with special needs; Down syndrome associations; parents and relatives of children with Down syndrome

The Particulars: Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives. Edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper. Published by Woodbine House, 2007.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Maureen Braun March 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Heather, so glad that book was helpful. I loved the stories and the pictures. For me it was enlightening, heartening and so very humbling.
If we don’t get to have a child with Down Syndrome we can at least learn from the families that do. We are all the better for it.


Nita July 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I haven’t read the book, but I too wish other families could have a brother with Down Syndrome like my brother. He is the most wonderful gift. I can’t wait to pick up the book.. It sounds wonderful!


Heather July 4, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Great to hear from someone in the “club”! Gifts 2 is great too. It has essays by other family members: brothers, sisters, grandparents, etc. I hope to review that one some time soon as well! I love hearing great stories from siblings as I used to worry about how my older son would find having a sister with DS. The more I hear, the less I worry! Cheers!


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