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.

Monday, February 11, 2013

God Made Me Special: Tourette Syndrome, My Personal Story

Author: Ryan C. Farrell
Illustrator: Ryan C. Farrell
Grade Level: 5th or 6th

Buy it here!

Additional Resources:

About Tourette Syndrome

Teaching Kids with Tourettes

Educational Materials

Summary: At the time he wrote this book, Ryan Farrell was twelve years old and grappling with the enormous burden of having Tourette Syndrome. A neurological disorder, Tourette syndrome is comprised of involuntary movements or vocalizations that range from sounds to actual words. In his book, Ryan uses eight of the nine chapters to tell his story. He describes what Tourette  syndrome is as well as the particular aspects of his own case. He writes about the beginnings of his disorder before his family knew what it was, being bullied and misunderstood, his frequent trips to see doctors and specialists, and the happiness he finds in doing the things he loves. His family also contributes a chapter, describing their feelings and experiences toward Ryan and Tourettes. Ryan encourages those with Tourettes to not let the disorder hold them back and to try their hardest for whatever it is they want in life. He believes that God has made him special and through dealing with Tourettes, he has become a better person.

Element 1: Self-Love and Knowledge: There is a lot that is misconstrued about Tourette syndrome. The media often relates it to shouting out inappropriate and explicit words, or just words in general, with no control. But few really know the truth about Tourettes unless they know someone with the disorder. Ryan tells the story most children who grow up with Tourettes will recognize quickly. They may recognize the bullying, the obsessive compulsive behavior, the difficulty with school but they may also recognize the love and support from family and friends and the realization that they are just like anyone else. Ryan fully encourages this viewpoint and tells others who read his book that have Tourettes that they can do anything, that they do not need to be afraid of themselves because they are special people and not so different from everyone else. He encourages them to love themselves in their special form of diversity.

Activity: I would personally choose to read this book to my students or have them take turns reading aloud to each other. They can read as many chapters a day as will fit into the time allotted for the reading program. An activity the students can do after reading this book is to think about themselves and find an aspect of their personality or life that they think makes them special. It can be anything they want because the activity is all about their opinions of themselves. Have them write out what that aspect is and why they think it makes them special. Have them title it, "I Am Special" and let them decorate the page in any way they wish.

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