Years ago, as part of my graduate program in Mild/Moderate Disabilities, one of my professors challenged our class to evaluate how our forms of entertainment portrayed those with special needs. Did movies present only stereotypes? Did books regulate those with disabilities to the role of the secondary character? Did music ever venture into this arena? I have never forgotten her class. And so, soon after I started doing thematic round-ups, I put special needs on my list of topics.
Being a resource teacher, I feel relatively confident of my ability to analyze how accurately books portray students with disabilities. My bigger dilemma actually came in narrowing down my selection. Should I review books which featured any special need? Or should I narrow my choices to books featuring those with physical handicaps, mental retardation, learning disabilities, or behavior and emotional disorders? Although I have experience working with students in all these areas, the bulk of my time I spend helping students with learning disabilities. Hence, I decided to limit myself to this theme.
Having made that decision, I simply had to pick out the books to review. As with adoption, I thought it’d be most useful to start out with some factual books. This provides the working knowledge one needs to understand the topic. Then I turned to fiction selections. The bulk of these I found in the juvenile shelves. When I eventually broaden my coverage to include other disabilities, I wonder will I find ones on the young adult shelves?
Before I close, I want to highlight two books. Although eventually I would have featured this topic in my thematic round-ups, receiving a complimentary copy of The Absolute Value of Mike from author Kathyrn Erskine is what inspired me to turn to it this fall. Then because I had been promoting the round-up, author Carmen Swick contacted me about reviewing Fishing with Grandpa, book one in The Patch Land Adventures series. She wrote it for her son, who is legally blind in one eye and so needs to wear a patch. Technically, this disability doesn’t fall under learning disabilities, but I agreed to include it in my coverage of nonfiction books because it can cause academic struggles.
This round-up will work similar to my adoption one, except the majority of my posts will appear every two days. This allows me time to read the longer selections on my list. Then I’ll wrap-up my learning disabilities round-up with a reflection that will include links to all relevant posts. If you’re interested in knowing the full list of books which I’ll review, you can find it near the top of the right-hand column. Enjoy the round-up!