Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand?
Sheila Dhir
Sheila Dhir
age group: 
5+ yrs
Number of pages: 
value education differently abled
picture book, non-fiction


A starkly simple cover that takes nothing away from the question being raised; the one who is asking the question is boldly illustrated.

The layout of each page has a shout at the top that is all too familiar; the illustrations are direct, each page echoing the heart of physically disabled children stating honestly what they feel.
There is a pleading and this is interspersed with the asking to be accepted to be accepted with all their inabilities as they are.

Why do most children reject challenged kids as friends?

The author has used the right word in the title, yes they are afraid!!!
Till they are about seven years old the natural focus of the child is their own body and anything that anything that seems ‘not normal’ almost scares them. They really do not know how to handle it.
They do not have a natural sense on what to say or do. It is here that parents play a role in bringing awareness about the world around us and the challenges that the human body can face.
It is crucial that children know that those with challenges have a normal heart and do have the same feelings as anyone else their age. They have the same needs of friendship, affiliation and company.
They need to be accepted as they are and be included by normal kids in all their interactions, even if they have to use props to move along. After all do we not use glasses when the muscles of the eye are not in great shape? Is anyone lesser for it? Children who are differently- abled have the same minds as anyone else that age. Their emotions are the same as anyone else their age.

Acceptance is a learnt process since looking at challenges in another child could trigger anxieties connected to their own selves. Parents need to be authentic in being role models and encouraging their kids to befriend them. So may I ask parents ‘why are you afraid to open that differently abled world to your child and hold his/her hand as they walk into it, even if with some trepidation’? It is your genuine open communication that will help the child build his/her confidence in a situation that demands it. Attitudes then take shape with a genuine understanding and sense of giving.

The appropriate thing to do would be to accept the normal child’s feelings when they encounter a situation like the ones stated in the book. Then the parent needs to raise the idea that all challenged children however different they may look have the same inherent needs such as friends, sharing toys or books, a hug, being touched, a chat and most of all as the author speaks you be you and me be me.

This is an ideal book to read together- parent and child -cuddling up with a leisurely, dialoguing mood prevailing between them. It would help the child understand the world with a sense of security and hand holding. That said then, ‘why are you afraid to hold my hand’ could well read ‘I love it when you hold my hand and talk to me’!!!!

So go ahead and pick up this most reasonably priced, simply written book that will offer an opportunity to well up compassion and support and subdue the mean-ness and hurt that is normally traded merely from not knowing how to deal with a situation.

Reviewed by Padma Srinath


Shamim, I was very happy to read your wonderful article and to see my sensitive book, titled Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand ?  featured prominently there on the Facebook homepage on the important occasion on December 3 on the International Day Of Persons With Disabilities. You will be glad to hear that Goodreads has nominated this book as one of the top 20,books for children -- an honour, indeed; since it talks about the stereotypical attitudes towards the differently abled and is a silent dialogue between a disabled child and society at large, about many preconceived notions and preconceptions towards the differently abled.The book Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand ? with simple verses and powerful illustrations, has been translated in 3 Indian languages : Tamil, Malayalam and Gujarati and into Korean - which is published as a hardcover book. It is used as a prescribed textbokk in countries like Singapore Australia, etc. Shamim. Since then, you would glad to hear that I created a whole series of six, two-colour healthcare awareness children's books; on : AIDS, Autism, Blindness, Cancer, Asthma and Educating the Girl Child, Meena
( which is an important social issues in some parts of India; not in Kerala, though ). These six two-colour, meaningful, positive and sensitive healthcare awareness chilsren's books, on the same lines as my book Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand ? are to be published by Mango Books ( the children's division of DC Books, a well known book publisher in Kottayam, Kerala, India); and marketed and distributed to 8--12 year olds
in the schools and school libraries, initially in Kerala. I will share the six YRU Afraid books with you, Shamim, along with an IPOD broadcast interview, that was done recently with me, about this pertinant and relevant healthcare awareness children's book series on AIDS, Autism, Cancer, Blindness, Asthma and Educating the Girl Child Meena. Thanks once again for reviewing my sensitive children's book, Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand ? -- a book that is very close to my heart and a cause / causes that I am very passionate about.
Please do stay in touch,Shamim. I am in India for another month, till January 11, 2019, when I head back home to Hilo, Hawaii, U.S.A via Singapore and Chicago. 
Warm regards,
My email address is : dhir.sheila@gmail.com

My website ( to see my graohic design projects, portfolio and international children's books ), is :

My Indian mobile phone number with WhatsApp is :

My U.S cell phone number with WhatsApp is :
  +1 706 266 7130

On Tuesday, December 11, 2018, youngindiabooks.com <info@youngindiabooks.com> wrote:

Dear all,

I was very happy to read your book featuring a disabled child. The sensitivity with which it has been written and illustrated is truly commendable. It's high time that the radar focused on disabled children. For too long have they been treated as outcastes, objects of pity to be stared at and/or treated as helpless, mindless beings. 

I have written an article on the topic do check it out HERE
I am also happy to inform you that your book is featuring on it.  
You can also find it on our FB page. Do Share it on your pages so that the message goes out loud and clear in order that no child is left out from a happy and fulfilled growing up experience.


Shamim Padamsee

Young India Books



1204 Kihonua Place, Hilo, Hawaii 96720-3490, U.S.A.