There's not a lot of ADHD representation in the world; I know, because I have ADHD, and I can count on two hands the number of times I've encountered a book or movie or other form of media that actually depicted the struggles of my brain beyond a few reductive jokes of "Ooh! Shiny object!" (Shout-out to Sex Criminals). I also have a wonderful little 9-month-old who was born premature, which further increases the likelihood that he's going to have ADHD. The diagnosis I received when I was 20 was an absolute game-changer for me, but I still lie awake worrying about how I'm going to help my kid, if he ends up with it, too.
My Busy Busy Brain: the ABCDs of ADHD by Nicole Russell and Antoinette Thomas is the first children's book I've seen that explicitly tackles ADHD head-on; and it depicts the myriad complications of the condition in a way that's accurate and accessible. Here's the official synopsis:
We've all heard that Big Question. It's easier to answer for some of us than others. And once Nicole's dad asks, "What did you learn in school today?" She struggles to remember.
Nicole has ADHD and a busy, busy brain. Facing a big, bright, bumbling world at school each day, she seems to notice everything around–except Mr. Oakley. She is excited to learn, but in a room full of colors and characters, Nicole can't help but daydream. With a little bit of courage, she makes a decision to confront her struggle with inattention, and finds she is not alone along the way. In standing up for herself, she helps her friends do the same.
My Busy, Busy Brain provides practical tools for children struggling with controlling their emotions, impulses, and concentration. Nicole's experience encourages kids to embrace their special brains and provides a simple guide to take charge of their experience in the classroom and beyond.
A beginner course for children curious about mental health, ADHD and the challenges we feel but can't see.
It's refreshing to see a character in a book who's genuinely intelligent, and genuinely curious, and genuinely wants to learn things … but is genuinely overwhelmed by so many subtle stimuli that it makes it near impossible to do so. Nicole's feelings of shame and inadequacy are painfully real. But it's also empowering — even moreso for kids, I imagine — to see that no one blames her for condition, accusing her of laziness or demanding that she just work harder. Instead, the book shows the different ways that ADHD can uniquely manifest in people. There's a wonderfully realistic spread of racial diversity and neurodiversity (ADHD diagnoses are frequently overlooked in both young girls and Black children, and Nicole is both), and it encourages them speak up and ask for the specific accommodations they need. Better yet, the adults in her see her for who she is, and respect these requests.
The first time I ever asked for ADHD accommodations, I got fired in retaliation. I'm a 35-year-old man, and seeing that kind of understanding depicted in a children's book hit me pretty hard.
If your looking for a touching and accessible story for any young kids you know with ADHD, My Busy Busy Brain is where it's at.
My Busy Busy Brain: the ABCDs of ADHD [Nicole Russell and Antoinette Thomas]