Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Brother Charlie

“My Brother Charlie”
~ Written by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
~ Illustrations by Shane W. Evans.

This book raising awareness about the struggles and challenges of coping with autism can be purchased here:

Book Review and Video:

“My Brother Charlie” is an inspiring and touching children’s book about a little girl named Callie and her twin brother Charlie, who is diagnosed with autism. It is based off of a true story about fraternal twins, Ryan and Rodney, Rodney having autism and Ryan not. The goal of this book is to help and to encourage others to become aware of the challenges of individuals who live with autism. Also, it helps family members living with an individual who has autism to become aware of how unique and special that individual really is. This book explains what autism is and how people with autism are very good at some things, and struggle with other things, just the same as everybody does. It starts by discussing the similarities that Callie and Charlie share and then brings up how the two are very different from one another. Charlie does not talk much and their mother starts to realize that he is not developing the way a child his age should be. This is the point where the family realizes that Charlie has autism. There are a number of things that Charlie is very good at, and many things that Charlie has difficulty with, like making friends. Charlie teaches his family so much about tolerance and love. Charlie is sweet, caring, and has an enormous heart that his family only wishes other people could see. Just because Charlie has autism does not mean there is anything wrong with him. Charlie is viewed as a blessing on their family and a teacher of love, compassion, and kindness for his family.

How “My Brother Charlie” represents the SJE of Raising Awareness:
“My Brother Charlie” addresses the Social Justice Element of Raising Awareness. Due to the fact that I am going to school to one day become a teacher, learning about children with disabilities could be very beneficial to me. This book shows readers what it is like living with a family member who struggles with autism. This book raises awareness about the strengths and challenges of having a close friend or family member living with autism. It gives children an opportunity to really learn about what autism is and how it affects individuals. This book covers the subjects of tolerance, prejudice, family and social structures, challenges, and different abilities. It discusses the importance of acceptance and the inclusion of people who have autism. Just because an autistic individual’s mind acts different than others may and they have a hard time making friends and striving socially, they are still incredible individuals. The objective of “My Brother Charlie” is to help society understand how amazing autistic people really are and learn about what it is like for a person to live with autism. Five percent of the authors’ earnings for this book have been given to the HollyRod4Kids Foundation to help autistic children afford and have access to therapies and treatments they may need. This book can truly help society to become aware of those with autism and how to cope with it.

Activities and Lesson Plans:
“My Brother Charlie” is at the reading level of ages four through eight years old. In my classroom, I would use this book as an interactive read-aloud for a second or third grade classroom. Although I was unable to find any lesson plans for this book, I would hope to do an activity after reading the book with my students that specifically focuses on their family members. I would begin by having each child draw a picture of each of the members in their family doing something they are good at. Next, I would have my students get into pairs of two and share their drawings with another student. After every child has shared their family pictures, I would have them present their partner’s family members to the entire class. I believe that this would help my students learn about and appreciate other families and their uniqueness. It would also encourage children to think about and reflect on what makes their families special and how every member of their family differs from one another. This activity would raise awareness that every family is different, but every family is unique and this uniqueness should be recognized.

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