Author: Jeanne Willis
Illustrated by: Tony Ross
Grade Level: Pre-K- Grade 2
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Summary: Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis is a children’s book that is strategically written to explain to children that children who use a wheelchair are not any different than them. The book begins by showing Susan experiencing different emotions, behaviors and activities that she encounters in her life. The book concludes by revealing Susan uses a wheelchair.
Element 1: Susan Laughs refers to the social justice element of self-love and knowledge because it discusses how a child of a different physical capacity participates in the same activities and experience the same emotions as other children. Throughout the book the illustrations show Susan playing with other children, as well as adults, while encountering different emotions, behaviors and actions.
Activity: Prior to reading the book, Susan Laughs, I would have my class draw or paint a self-portrait of themselves’ playing on the playground. Once they are done, I would have the students hang all of their portraits around the class. Next, while sitting in a circle, I would have each individual student provide a one or two sentence description of the activity they drew. In the end, I would have the children group the similar pictures (swinging, drawing in the dirt etc.) together. After the grouping is completed, I would ask the students to take a minute and look at all of the different groupings. By having the students review the groupings, I am allowing them to discover on their own that they all have similarities, no matter their physical capacity. I would conclude by reading Susan Laughs aloud to the class.