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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Author: Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Elizabeth Peete (with Denene Millner)
Illustrator: Shane W. Evans
Grade Range: K-4
Element Five: Raising Awareness
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Summary: about a sister who has a brother, Charlie, who has autism.
My Brother Charlie is a wonderful book for anyone wanting to learn about autism, despite the books’ K-4 reading level. The pictures in this book are pleasing as it portrays everyday life and activities of children. Callie and Charlie are twins who share the same characteristics and interests but are different in many ways. I like the fact that the book listed their differences before stating the information that Charlie has autism. In this way the book highlights how Charlie is different the same way anyone is different. The book is written from Callie’s perspective and how special Charlie is to her and her family. Callie loves Charlie very much and Charlie loves her. Charlie expresses his love to her by his actions more so than words. The last few sentence at the end sums up the book: “Charlie has autism but autism doesn’t have him”. This book is an excellent example of raising awareness to realize that autism does not mean a person isn't a person.

Element 5- Awareness Raising
As a future special education teacher, learning about disability is essential for my career, however, general education teachers and anyone in general could benefit from this book. Learning about disabilities raises awareness and suppresses any discomfort that some may have.  In order to raise awareness, teachers should provide opportunities for students to learn about and respect differences so they can embrace the diversity we all bring into this world. This book offers as a tool to help explain autism and covers themes of acceptance, inclusion, tolerance, challenges, and abilities. Every student can benefit from this book, no matter the grade level, as autism is becoming more recognizable and identifiable. This book does a great job of describing the characteristics of autism and how families work together to help each other. This is also a great book for children because it does a nice job of showing how all children are special and how we can find the value of uniqueness in all people.

Classroom Activity: Before reading the book, I would brainstorm with my class what they know about autism. Then I would make a web on a poster board of all answers. Note: if you have difficulty with students coming up answers about autism, then help them with the information provided at this website: http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/ed_autisminc.pdf (Appendix A) and display on SmartBoard. Read the book aloud and then assemble students into small groups. Ask students to talk amongst themselves to make the connection that Charlie is just like them. I would then have the students draw a big picture of themselves and write characteristics about themselves inside their pictures. We would then relate it to each other’s as well as Charlie’s and Callie’s. I would debrief the students about Charlie’s disability on how he shares characteristics with other students and that everyone is unique in their own ways.

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