Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reflection #9: Disability and Differences

I love that there are books out there that touch every aspect of life. So far for this class, we've read books about LGBTQ issues, diversity, multicultural struggles, books that have been banned/challenged because of controversial content, and now, we've read books that have characters with disabilities or something that makes them just a little bit different than other characters.

I first read Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. This was such a great read. Poor Joey. He struggles with his ADHD so much. He gets into all kinds of trouble. I felt so bad for him. I hurt through the whole book, just like I hurt for my students who are struggling with this. It is so hard for them to stay seated for 8 hours a day, not talking, and listen to teachers talk about things that they don't completely understand. The focus aspect is hard enough, but when you are hyperactive on top of it, it's like the world is working against you. I think this book is perfect for anyone who is struggling with a similar disorder, or for someone who knows someone like Joey.

Marcelo in the Real World was another book that pulled on my heartstrings. When Marcelo was forced to work in the mailroom at the law firm instead of with the ponies at his school, I was upset for him. I know this is all supposed to teach a lesson about overcoming adversity and whatever, but books like this just upset me.

The book about Temple Grandin was inspiring. I've always found her story to be inspiring, in general. She overcame so much and worked to create new methodology in relation to herding cows. She embraced her disability and excelled because of it.

The two articles for the week were also very interesting (not as interesting as the consumerism articles from last week that I absolutely loved, though ;) ). I loved the three reasons for writing a literary character with a disability: "to teach about a disability, to focus on the life of an individual with a disability, or to tell a story that happens to include an individual with a disability." Kids need characters like them in literature so they don't feel so alone. This is especially true of children with disabilities. They need to see themselves in something so that they can relate.

I love the idea of teaching about disabilities and differences with picture books. I think that giving students a more creative approach to such a difficult concept gives students the freedom to question and think before they make a decision. Students are quick to judge one another and will sooner laugh and mock than just accept someone who is different from them, especially when they are younger. It's because they just don't understand why the difference exists. The older they get, the more accepting they become, but it is still hard to understand. Picture books can really help teachers and students address these difficult concepts.


Bibliographic Information: 

Gantos, J. (2014). Joey Pigza swallowed the key. New York: Square Fish, Farrar Straus Giroux.

Lok, C. (2009). Book Therapy: The Power of Picture Books for an Inclusive Classroom. California Reader, 42(2), 24-28.

Montgomery, S. (2012). Temple Grandin : how the girl who loved cows embraced autism and changed the world. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Stork, F. (2011). Marcelo in the real world. New York: Scholastic.

Wopperer, E. (2011). Inclusive Literature in the Library and the Classroom. Knowledge Quest, 39(3), 26-34.