10 Children’s Books that Teach Inclusion

Summer is a fantastic time for exploring new books that foster meaningful conversations between children and adults. Help children understand and welcome peers with and without disabilities by reading one or many of these books this summer. Whether you’re a parent, children’s ministry leader, or summer school teacher, you’ll enjoy sharing these stories with the kids in your lives. Be sure to add your own favorites in the “Comments” section below!

Note: All book descriptions are from Amazon unless otherwise noted.

  1. All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopman

    All Cats have Asperger SyndromeAll Cats Have Asperger Syndrome takes a playful look at Asperger Syndrome (AS), drawing inspiration from the feline world in a way that will strike a chord with all those who are familiar with AS.Delightful color photographs of cats bring to life familiar characteristics such as sensitive hearing, scampering at the first sign of being stroked and particular eating habits. Touching, humorous and insightful, this book evokes the difficulties and joys of raising a child who is different and leaves the reader with a sense of the dignity, individuality and potential of people with AS.This engaging book is an ideal, gentle introduction to the world of AS.

  2. All Kinds of Friends, Even Green!All Kinds of Friends, Even Green! by Ellen Senisi

    More than just a story about friendship, ALL KINDS OF FRIENDS, EVEN GREEN! looks at difference—such as being in a wheelchair or missing toes—in a unique way. With this beautifully photographed and engaging story, children discover that living with disability and facing its challenges can be seen as interesting, even positive. With an Afterword about disabilities, Moses, and iguanas, the story provides material for discussing inclusion at school and home.

  3. Be Good to Eddie LeeBe Good to Eddie Lee by Virginia Fleming

    This book is an excellent tool to begin discussions with children in grades Preschool-6 about forming friendships with a child with a disability. Before you begin reading this book, tell the children gathered, “When we are done, I’m going to ask you which person in the story knew how to be the best friend.” You will have a great discussion and open the doors to talk about the way in which you want children to treat one another in your setting. (Available from CLC Network.)

  4. Body Building: Devotions to Celebrate Inclusive CommunityBody Building: Devotions to Celebrate Inclusive Community by Barbara J. Newman

    This book features 6 weeks of 7 devotionals. Each devotion highlights a passage of Scripture as well as a story from an inclusive Christian school or church. The devotion book also offers opportunities for those reading to submit a story from their own community to CLC Network for possible publication on the website or in a future book. We are delighted to offer this truly unique and inspirational resource written by Barbara J. Newman with theological support from Dr. Andrew J. Bandstra. (Available from CLC Network.)

  5. Don't Call Me SpecialDon’t Call Me Special by Pat Thomas

    This delightful picture book explores questions and concerns about physical disabilities in a simple and reassuring way. Younger children can find out about individual disabilities, special equipment that is available to help the disabled, and how people of all ages can deal with disabilities and live happy and full lives. Titles in this series for younger children explore emotional issues that boys and girls encounter as part of the growing-up process. Books are focused to appeal to kids of preschool through early school age.

  6. Little RainmanLittle Rainman: Autism – Through the Eyes of a Child by Karen Simmons

    Recommended by world-renowned author and speaker Dr. Temple Grandin, this children’s book paints a picture of what life is like for children with autism. Unique illustrations accompany a child’s voice as he explains the different ways he thinks, sees, hears, and feels. This book is great for reading to children with or without autism to encourage acceptance and understanding. Written by Karen Simmons-Sicoli, mother of a son with autism, this was one of the first books of its kind and it continues to be a classic in the autism community.

  7. The Little CupcakesThe Little Cupcakes by Anthony King

    The Little Cupcakes is a beautiful and engaging learning journey, encouraging children and parents to talk with each other about tolerance and diversity in a caring, sharing, sensitive way.

  8. We'll Paint the Octopus RedWe’ll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

    As six-year-old Emma anticipates the birth of her new baby brother or sister, she vividly imagines all of the things they can do together. Emma feels ready to be a big sister! Then when the baby is born, her dad tells her that it’s a boy and he has something called Down syndrome. Finally she asks, “If Isaac has this Down thing, then what can’t he do?”. Her dad thinks about it, then tells her that as long as they are patient with him, and help him when he needs it, there probably isn’t anything Isaac can’t do. In this touching story, Emma helps her father as much as he helps her to realise that Isaac is the baby they dreamed of. The book concludes with a set of commonly asked questions about Down syndrome with answers for children and how it might affect their sibling and family. For ages 3-7.

  9. You Are SpecialYou Are Special by Max Lucado

    In this heartwarming children’s tale from the best-selling pen of author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is–no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It’s a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are.

  10. You've Got a FriendYou’ve Got a Friend by Joni Eareckson Tada

    Benjamin, sad and lonely in his wheelchair, receives help from two angels when they create the opportunity for him to fix his old friend Tony’s flat bicycle tire.

How about you…what books about disability and inclusion do you recommend?

Note: If you purchase these books through Amazon, CLC Network (Christian Learning Center) will receive a percentage of your purchase through AmazonSmile.

 

The Benefits of Journaling

We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.
–  
John Dewey (1859-1952)

Life has seemed to move us all into the fast lane. Unfortunately we are taking our children there with us. In the classroom the emphasis has shifted from mastery of learning to coverage of material. When we rush learning, children may do well on the Friday test, but come Monday, all is forgotten. How do we correct this? How do we help children to think deeply about concepts new to them and not just memorize facts? To do so, it is essential to teach children to reflect on what they are learning.

Journaling as a Form of Reflection

Journal and PenThere are many ways one can use to teach children the skill of reflecting. I would like to focus on one that I find to be superior: journaling about what is being learned. Journaling is effective for children (and adults) of all ages and abilities. It is not time consuming and can take on many different forms. In school it can be done in all classes from the arts to physical education to math.

A simple way for teachers to use this technique with their students is to pause after presenting new information, asking students to take out their journals and in some way reflect on the concept or information that was just given. Students are free to journal in whatever form best helps them to process the new information. This could be a simple sketch, a graph or diagram, a poem, notes connecting this to prior learning, questions needing clarification, or any form of writing that helps the learner internalize the new teaching.

Just the process of writing in itself is valuable and recent research demonstrates that doing so helps us process the information in different parts of the brain than hearing alone does. For those children who enjoy drawing or sketching to illustrate the concept, there is the added benefit of thinking metaphorically and this may help them think more deeply about the material.

Process with a Partner

Collection of JournalsPerhaps the biggest benefit of journaling is what comes next. After students have been given five minutes or so to put down their thoughts they are then given time to share their entries with a learning partner. Real learning is now taking place because they must explain their thinking to their partner. Furthermore, they also are now able to see how their partner processed the information. This exchange of thinking and sharing of ideas is learning at its best. From this sharing, misunderstandings can be revealed and new perspectives can be taken. Children are now truly reflecting on their learning. Journal notes make a great way for later study.

Such journaling does not have to be limited to the classroom. People of all ages journal their thoughts on what they read or keep a spiritual journal on their daily devotions. In short, journaling is a fantastic way of recording those thoughts and ideas we really wish to learn and remember and it is always handy for review. The secret is that it forces us to slow down and more deeply consider that which is important to us as learners.

photo credit: vidalia_11 via photopin cc
photo credit: Dvortygirl via photopin cc

Photo of Greg YoderGreg Yoder is a teacher consultant at CLC Network in Grand Rapids, MI. Read about his involvement in creating inclusive communities at West Highland Christian Academy and Creston Christian School.

Questions You and Your Child Should Be Asking

This month, we’ve focused on increasing reading comprehension with your child. We’ve talking about why comprehension is necessary to be a successful reader, how to introduce books to your child, and today, we’ll conclude with more practical strategies you can try with your son or daughter. 

Asking questions during and after reading encourages active engagement and remembrance of important details and information. This can also help your son or daughter connect what he has learned to what he already knows. Your child is monitoring his own comprehension when he asks questions.

How It Works:

1)         Let your child know that asking questions while reading can help him focus on what he is reading, gives him a purpose for reading, and helps him check to see if he is understand what he is reading.

2)        Read a story to your child and model the questioning process (eventually, he should do this on his own). Stop during the reading and ask questions that come to your mind. You may have to model this several times – your child will not pick this up completely after just one modeling.

3)      Some questions to ask while reading could include:

  1. “What does this mean?”
  2. “Is this important?”
  3. “How do I think the story will end?”
  4. “What does this word mean?”
  5. “Do I need to read this again?”
  6. “How could that be?”

4)      Encourage him to ask himself these questions when he is reading on his own.

A Fun, Interactive Post-Reading Activity:

You’ll need: a beach ball and a permanent marker

Steps:

1)      With a permanent marker, write the following questions on an inflated beach ball: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Beach Ball Reading Activity

2)      After reading a text, toss the ball back and forth with your child. Look to see which questioning word is closest to your right thumb and answer that question with regard to the text that was just read.

3)      Toss the ball back to your child and have her answer the question closest to her right thumb.

Teaching Reading at Home

We hope the reading strategies over the past month have been helpful for you as you’ve worked with your son or daughter on reading comprehension. If you’re an educator and have a student that’s struggling with reading comprehension, we’d invite you to share these strategies with his or her parent’s to work on at home. For more reading strategies and tips, check out Best Practices for Teaching Reading at Home.

Sandra Vroon IMGSandra Vroon has served as a general education teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, adjunct reading and literacy professor and most recently, a home educator. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College.

Susan Harrell IMGSusan Harrel has spent the last 30 years in a variety of educational settings including a one-room mission school in Uganda, a K-12 school for LD students, multiple elementary grades, a Reading Recovery room, private tutoring of home school students and more. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College. 

How to Introduce New Books to Your Child

Last week, we shared why reading comprehension is necessary for your son or daughter to be a successful reader. This week, parents, teachers, home educators and authors Sandra Vroon and Susan Harrell share one strategy for helping your child strengthen their comprehension skills: introducing new books with to child.

Why is this important? Because it will pique their interest, introduce new words and concepts and give them an idea of what the story is going to be about.  (Learn more about this from Drs. Fountas and Pinnell)

Reading Together

Credit: Phil Dowsing Creative, http://flic.kr/p/4G8o6f

Steps for Introducing a New Book:

  1. Give a summary of what the story is about. This gives your child the main idea to refer to when reading the story.
  2. Talk about the pictures together before reading. Look at the pictures and talk about what your child thinks is happening and will happen next. This will help him to predict the story and reinforces the meaning of the text.
  3. Talk about any interesting language your child may encounter during the reading of this book. This will help your child use structure and language patterns.
  4. Discuss any concepts that you think may be new or difficult for your child to understand based on his background knowledge
  5. Preview the book and find one or two high frequency words that you are working on. Go to the page the first word is located on. Say the word you want your child to locate and have him repeat it after you. Ask him what letter he would expect to see at the beginning of the word. Have him run his finger slowly under the word and read it. Repeat this with the second word. This helps your child use the visual information from letters to guide him through the text.
  6. Enjoy this opportunity to read with your child. Keep the experience fun and relaxing for both you and your child.

Check back next week for a fun reading activity!

This text was adapted from Sandra and Susan’s new book, Best Practices for Teaching Reading at Home.

Sandra Vroon IMGSandra Vroon has served as a general education teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, adjunct reading and literacy professor and most recently, a home educator. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College.

Susan Harrell IMGSusan Harrel has spent the last 30 years in a variety of educational settings including a one-room mission school in Uganda, a K-12 school for LD students, multiple elementary grades, a Reading Recovery room, private tutoring of home school students and more. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College. 

Comprehension: A Key Component to Successful Reading

Reading is one of the most important keys needed to unlock learning for your child. Many children just learn to read by themselves. For others, the reading process does not come easily. These children need to be purposefully taught

Teaching Reading at Home

the strategic activities and decision-making processes that good readers naturally use on their own.

Over the next month, Sandra Vroon and Susan Harrell will share strategies they’ve learned through their experience as parents, teachers and home educators to help children become successful readers. We will be sharing excerpts of
their new book Best Practices for Teaching Reading at Home with hopes that you can apply their suggestions to help your own son or daughter.

Let’s begin with a story.

Young girl imageKatie was an excited early reader. She enjoyed listening to stories and her emerging ability to read them herself. Many good teaching lessons were put into her decoding, fluency, expression and accuracy. Katie sounded very good when she read a story. She often had difficulty, however, predicting what might happen next in the story, as well as remembering the order of events. This made retelling a story difficult for her.

Katie struggled with comprehension – the understanding of what is read. Comprehension is the heart and soul of reading. It is not the product of reading, but the process of reading. Comprehension strategies enable a reader to make connections and make sense of the text. This meaning is a strong support in maintaining fluency, detecting and correcting errors and solving words while reading.

How do you detect comprehension?

You may notice that your child already has a good sense of stories and what they are about. He knows stories are about getting a message and meaning. Keep building on this with each text your child reads, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. Your child might need extra support in this area if you notice him saying words that make no sense at all in a sentence or story. You might ask your child a question about the story during or after his reading and realize that he missed the main idea that the author intended to convey. You might find that your child has difficulty predicting what might happen next in the story, showing that he hasn’t fully understood what has happened so far and where that is leading to.

If this is the case, stay tuned for strategies to help your son or daughter comprehend what they’re reading.

Sandra Vroon IMG

Sandra Vroon has served as a general education teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, adjunct reading and literacy professor and most recently, a home educator. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College.

 

Susan Harrell IMG

Susan Harrel has spent the last 30 years in a variety of educational settings including a one-room mission school in Uganda, a K-12 school for LD students, multiple elementary grades, a Reading Recovery room, private tutoring of home school students and more. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College.