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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don't Call Me Special

Title: Don't Call Me Special- A First Look at Disability

Author: Pat Thomas
Illustrator: Lesley Harker

Age Range: 4-7

Purchase this book here:
Barnes and Noble

Don't Call Me Special explores the concerns and questions children have with regards to physical disabilities in a clear manner. The book allows readers to realize that everybody is a little different from everyone else. We each have things that we can do easily and things we might need help in. Children with disabilities need helpful equipment like you may need glasses to see or special scissors to cut. Don't Call Me Special identifies the equipment children with disabilities often use and discusses the different reasons a child may have a disability. Through this book, children are able to understand that the term "special" makes many people with disabilities feel different from everyone else. Children with disabilities may look different on the outside, but they are just like everyone else. Together, children and adults with disabilities and without disabilities can help each other grow and live happy lives.

Social Justice Element:
Don't Call Me Special is an excellent book for teachers to raise the awareness of children with disabilities. This book is a great resource to introduce physical disabilities to children in early elementary grades. Children with physical disabilities may often feel different from other students in the class. One way teachers can make children with disabilities feel like everyone else is by reading books such as Don't Call Me Special. It allows children to realize that by assuming that an individual, who may not look the same as them on the outside, is different can hurt that person's feelings. Students can become advocators for children with disabilities by raising awareness to other students, teachers, and family members. Everybody needs help doing something, therefore children and adults with disabilities should not be labeled as being "special". People of all ages should understand that people with disabilities are capable of doing everything we can and maybe even more. Through this book, children are able to discuss the importance of inclusion and how they can learn from each other.

As a future teacher, I would use this book as way to introduce physical disabilities to my students. After reading this book to my students, I could introduce people with disabilities that have made important contributions in our society such as Helen Keller and Franklin Roosevelt. In groups, students can do research on people with physical disabilities and how they have overcome their disability. Groups can discuss their findings to the class and learn about how people with disabilities can make important contributions as well. An activity that can be used following this book is through role playing. Students can take turns understanding what it may be like to be blind or deaf by being blindfolded and wearing headsets. This activity can help enhance the compassion and understanding to children with physical disabilities. This book can lead to many discussions on acceptance and tolerance of people who may be disabled. I would also have my students discuss the things they find easy to do and things they need help doing. Through this discussion, students will realize that everyone is a little different and we all need help doing certain things.

Below are websites that provide activities and ways to teach students about disabilities:
Classroom Activities
Teaching Diversity
Teaching Second Grade Students about Disabilities

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