AIDS Annotated Bibliography


Dr. Ava L. McCall



Children’s Books

Background Resources On AIDS

Social Action Projects



Children’s Books


Alexander, E., Rudin, S. & Sejkora, P. (1996). My dad has HIV. Minneapolis, MN: Fairview.


Picture book, lower elementary level. The main character, Lindsay, explains to readers that her father has the HIV virus, but still is able to volunteer and work as a substitute teacher at her school. She distinguishes between the HIV virus, and other viruses that cause colds or chicken pox. The text describes simple characteristics of the HIV virus (lives only inside the human body; found in blood; and attacks white blood cells limiting their ability to fight other diseases). The text closes on a hopeful tone with Lindsay's father taking medicine to slow down the spread of HIV in his body and scientists and doctors working together to find a cure for HIV.


Fassler, D. & McQueen, K. (1990). What's a virus, anyway? The kids' book about AIDS. Burlington, VT: Waterfront Books.


Picture book, lower elementary level. This book is written to help adults explain AIDS to young children and can be used in AIDS education curricula for children in grades 1-5. It explains in simple language and through children's drawings the answers to these questions: What's a virus? How can a virus make you sick? What is AIDS? How does someone get AIDS? Who does get AIDS? What happens to people with AIDS? Will they ever find a cure for AIDS? The book begins with general guidelines for adults when talking with children about AIDS. A list of agencies and organizations and books for parents, teachers, elementary school children, and adolescents which deal with AIDS are given at the end of the text.


Flynn, T. & Lound, K. (1995). AIDS: Examining the crisis. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner.


Upper elementary/middle school level/adult resource. The text is an excellent resource for developing background knowledge on HIV and AIDS. It traces the history of how the U.S. became aware of the existence of AIDS in the 1980s, who had the disease, its symptoms, research on the illness, and the public's reaction to the disease and its victims. It explains clearly how HIV harms the body's immune system, illnesses associated with AIDS, and ways to become infected with the HIV virus. The explanation of how HIV can be transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk and not through tears and saliva is especially valuable. The public's reluctance to learn about AIDS prevention as well as organizations which encourage education and action in fighting AIDS are described.


Fox, P. (1995). The eagle kite. New York: Orchard Books.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The book is told from Liam's perspective, an adolescent male. When Liam's father Philip developed AIDS, Liam's mother explained it came from a blood transfusion. The strained relationship between Liam's parents and Liam's memory of his father with another man while on a family vacation nurtured Liam's doubts about the truth of the source of the disease. After Philip moved to a cottage to live alone and cope with the disease, Liam discovered more about how Philip got AIDS and the reasons for the tense relationship between his parents. Liam's anger and confusion about his father's illness, his father's sexual orientation, and the place of the Liam and his mother in his father's life are portrayed. The book also refuted some misconceptions about how AIDS is transmitted.


Girard, L. W. (1991). Alex, the kid with AIDS. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.


Picture book, upper elementary level. This book provides a positive portrayal of how a school prepares for a child with AIDS to attend. Although Alex is at first an outsider in his fourth-grade classroom, he also uses his illness to expect special treatment from the teacher and other adults. The teacher learns to treat Alex like other students and Alex begins to become friends with other students in the class.


Hausherr, R. (1989). Children and the AIDS virus: A book for children, parents, and teachers. New York: Clarion.


Picture book, elementary level. This book explains what the AIDS virus is, how it is transmitted, and how it is not transmitted. It also portrays two children with AIDS; one contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion, the other from her mother. The book emphasizes that children can play safely with someone who has AIDS.


Jordan, M. (1989). Losing Uncle Tim. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.


Picture book, elementary level. Daniel tells the story of enjoyable experiences with his favorite uncle and then the discovery Uncle Tim has AIDS. Daniel is sad about Uncle Tim's worsening illness, but is reassured by his parents that he cannot catch AIDS by being with him. He continues to spend time with Uncle Tim until his death. The family deals with AIDS and death in a supportive, sensitive manner.


Merrifield, M. (1990). Come sit by me. Toronto: Women's Press.


Picture book, lower elementary. Karen, the main character, becomes friends with Nicholas, another child in her preschool who also has AIDS. When the other parents learn about Nicholas' illness, they no longer want their children to play with Karen or Nicholas. Karen's parents hold a meeting to educate the parents about HIV and AIDS which leads to the children's greater acceptance of Nicholas. Background information on AIDS is provided at the end of the book.


Moutoussamy-Ashe, J. (1993). Daddy and me: A photo story of Arthur Ashe and his daughter, Camera. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Picture book, lower elementary. Camera, Arthur Ashe's daughter, describes life with her father after he contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion. The photographs of Camera and her father show them in everyday activities as well as taking medicine and being in the hospital. Camera explains simply her father's symptoms and the love they share.


Newman, L. (1995). Too far away to touch. New York: Clarion.


Picture book, elementary level. Zoe, the main character in the text, enjoys the special outings with Uncle Leonard, but the outings described in the text are different because Leonard is ill from AIDS. Readers become aware of some of the effects of the illness, including fatigue, hair loss, and frequent medications. Zoe and Uncle Leonard do not shy away from the hard question, “are you going to die?” Uncle Leonard assures Zoe that even if he dies, he is “too far away to touch, but close enough to see,” just as the stars.


Pollack, E. (1992). Whisper whisper Jesse, whisper whisper Josh: A story about AIDS. Cambridge: Advantage/Aurora.


Picture book, elementary. Uncle Josh, whom Jesse barely knows, comes to live with Jesse and his parents while Josh is ill with AIDS. The book hints at the difficult relationship which existed earlier between Jesse's father and Uncle Josh. The parents are reluctant at first to discuss AIDS with Jesse, but later explain AIDS is not contracted through hugging and kissing which people with AIDS need. After Uncle Josh's death, the family learns to help each other cope.


Quinlan, P. (1994). Tiger flowers. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, lower elementary. This book encourages a more compassionate view of AIDS with a sympathetic portrayal of an AIDS victim and his loving family relationships. Joel, the main character, cares deeply about his Uncle Michael who helps him build a treehouse and care for the flower garden. When Uncle Michael becomes ill from AIDS, he comes to live with Joel and his family. Michael explained that some of his friends did not want to be with him anymore because of his illness, but that no one could get AIDS by being near him. After Michael dies, Joel and his family find comfort in their memories of him.


Starkman, N. (1988). Z's gift. Seattle, WA: Comprehensive Health Education Foundation.


Picture book, elementary level. Z, short for Edgar Zachary, Jr., was a student in Mrs. Brown's class when Mrs. Brown told them she had AIDS. Some of the parents wanted to take their children out of school unless Mrs. Brown left, other teachers avoided eating lunch with her, and the children tried to elude contact with their teacher. At Z's suggestion, his mother learned more about AIDS and how it was spread from their doctor who shared this information with other parents. Z also initiated contact with Mrs. Brown and offered to eat lunch with her which touched the teacher deeply. The focus of the book is to encourage adults and children to know how AIDS is transmitted and to show compassion for those with AIDS.


Verneiero, J.C. (1995). You can call me Willy: A story for children about AIDS. New York: Magination Press.


Picture book, lower elementary level. Willy is an eight-year-old girl who contracted HIV from her mother when she was born. Even though Willy must take medicine and sometimes misses school because she is too ill to attend, Willy wants to go to school, have friends, and play baseball. Willy and her grandmother encounter adults and children who do not want Willy to attend school and play baseball because they fear she will spread AIDS to others. With the help of others, Willy and her grandmother prove that casual contact will not distribute the AIDS virus. The book illustrates the cruelty as well as the kindness which children can show to children with AIDS or HIV.


Weeks, S. (1995). Red ribbon. New York: HarperCollins.


Picture book, lower elementary level. The main character in the text is Jenny, a young girl concerned about her neighbor's illness. Although the text does not identify the illness as AIDS, Jenny's mother's suggestion they wear red ribbons to show they care about their neighbor lets the reader know the disease is AIDS. This text offers no information on AIDS, but shows how young children can communicate their support for those ill with AIDS. Directions are provided for making red ribbons to show "I care." Accompanying the text is a tape of the text/lyrics also sung by the author. A portion of the royalties from this book goes to "God's Love We Deliver," a nonprofit organization which provides food for people ill with AIDS.


White, R. & Cunningham, A. M. (1991). Ryan White: My own story. New York: Signet.


Upper elementary/middle school. A very powerful book in which Ryan White describes in his own voice his experiences with AIDS. Ryan explains how he contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion for hemophilia and the pain of discrimination and exclusion from his high school in Kokomo, Indiana, others in the community, and even from members of his church. After Ryan and his family moved to Cicero, Indiana, they experienced the benefits of AIDS education with much more acceptance at school and the community in general. The book portrays how Ryan tried to live a "normal" life while dealing with a misunderstood, devastating illness.


Wierner, L.S., Best, A. & Pizzo, P.A. (1994). Be a friend: Children who live with HIV speak. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.


Picture book, upper elementary level. This book is a collection of art and writing by children who came to the National Cancer Institute to be treated for AIDS or HIV infection. One section deals with what children with HIV wonder about and wish for. For example, the children often wonder what their lives would be like without AIDS or HIV and if they will die. Another section focuses on living with HIV in which children speak about not feeling well, taking medication constantly, and being treated differently by others. The last section deals with family and friends. Here children write about their family members and friends who are ill with AIDS or HIV and perhaps have died or children with AIDS or HIV write about how others treat them after they know about their infection or disease.



Background Resources On AIDS


Dansky, S. F. (1997). Nobody's children: Orphans of the HIV epidemic. New York: Harrington Park Press.


Adult resource. The text contains statistics on the number of children who have been and who are projected to be orphaned by the HIV pandemic in the U.S. and world by the year 2000. This increase in the number of orphaned children is largely due to the increasing number of women infected with HIV. The author attributes the growing number of women who are dying from AIDS as a result of intravenous drug use or unprotected sex with an intravenous drug user. He suggests one solution to this social problem is adoption of these orphans by gay and lesbian couples and includes interviews with gay couples who have adopted such orphans as well as interviews with older children and adolescents whose parents died from AIDS.


Hawkins, A. H. (2000). A small, good thing: Stories of children with HIV and those who care for them. New York: W. W. Norton.


Adult resource. The author documented six stories of Hispanic, European American, and African American children who were born with HIV to mothers who were HIV infected. The mothers usually acquired the virus through intravenous drug use or unprotected sex with an infected partner. Hawkins followed the care and treatment they received at a pediatric HIV clinic in southern Ohio and from their biological, adoptive, and foster families over several years. Especially valuable aspects of the text include the main physician’s advice on how to explain to young children they have HIV infection (pages 242-244), children’s use of their HIV status to manipulate teachers and administrators at school and appropriate responses to this manipulation (pages 113-114 and 158), proper terms for HIV infection (page 92), and different treatments for children with HIV. Through examples of discriminatory treatment the children experienced, readers could conclude the importance of AIDS/HIV education among the general population.


Quackenbush, M. & Villarreal, S. (1992). Does AIDS hurt? Educating young children about AIDS (2nd ed.). Santa Cruz, CA: ETR Associates.


Adult/teacher resource. The text contains general information about HIV and AIDS, including how the HIV virus is transmitted and how people can protect themselves from it. One chapter in the text deals with appropriate information about HIV and AIDS to share with children from early childhood through elementary school (ages 3-10). The authors suggest providing simple explanations of HIV transmission to 5-year-olds, especially if they ask. They also emphasize the importance of correcting misconceptions, dealing with broad issues such as AIDS, and introducing the dangers of HIV and how it is transmitted to elementary-age students. One valuable aspect of the text is the inclusion of vignettes of teachers and students learning about aspects of AIDS and HIV within a comprehensive health curriculum. The authors also provide advice for responding to children’s questions and introducing the topic if children do not ask.


Wisconsin AIDS/HIV program, Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services. Web site:


The web site provides background information on different programs, statistics and reports, resources, a calendar of events, and links to other web sites dealing with HIV and AIDS. Of special value for teachers is the section on “HIV Prevention Education and Risk Reduction.”



Social Action Projects


1. Contact the Aids Resource Center of Wisconsin, 120 Morrison Street, Number 201, Appleton, WI 54911, (800) 773-2068 or (920) 773-2068 to find out how you might best serve their clients. Speak with either Molly Herman or Jan Talbot about possible projects. One project Jan Talbot suggested was to purchase gift certificates for meals, haircuts, movies, or video rentals which could be donated to their organization and then dispensed directly to their clients. Since most clients with HIV are spending much of their income on medications, they often have little money for such luxuries. Possible avenues for raising money to purchase gift certificates include: selling flowers and vegetables you grew; selling crafts, drawings, and art you created; obtaining pledges for walking, swimming, or biking; selling foods at children's activities; providing a service for your community (collecting litter or planting flowers) and charging a small fee; having a penny drop; holding a math-a-thon (ask others to pledge money for each problem solved accurately); organizing a talent show; or holding a bake sale.


2. Donate money to Camp Heartland, a Milwaukee-based non-profit camp for children with AIDS.


3. Support local community efforts to allow children and youth with AIDS to attend school and use public recreational facilities.


4. Develop a play, skit, poster, article, or presentation which educates others about AIDS, what it is, how it is spread, and the importance of treating those with HIV or AIDS humanely.


5. Make a memorial panel for the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Write or call the NAMES Project Foundation, 2362 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94114, 415-863-5511.

For more information on the AIDS Memorial Quilt:


Ruskin, C. (1988). The quilt: Stories from the NAMES project. New York: Pocket Books. This text tells how The Quilt got started in 1987 as a national effort to create a hand-sewn tribute to the tens of thousands of Americans stricken down by AIDS. Photographs of many of the panels are included as well as letters and stories about those who were honored with quilt panels and the quilters.

6. Make a quilt for a young child ill with HIV or AIDS and send to the ABC Quilt project. For more information on where your quilt is most needed, send a stamped, self-addressed #10 envelope to PO Box 107, Weatherford, OK 73096.

For a more complete description of the project:


ABC Quilts. (1992). Kids making quilts for kids. Gualala, CA: Quilt Digest Press. This text tells how children and adolescents can make quilts to comfort young children ill with HIV or the AIDS virus, provides quilt patterns, information about AIDS, and where the finished quilts can be sent.



Social problems/social action

Annotated bibliography list