Thank you for visiting my blog! I have been having a lot of fun creating these blogs, and I hope you enjoy reading about the books I've shared!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Can't Stop! A Story About Tourette Syndrome. By: Holly L. Niner. Illustrated by: Meryl Treatner. (2005).

This is a book about a boy with Tourette's Syndrome. I first became interested in Tourette's Syndrome a few semesters ago when we were asked to read Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had, by Brad Cohen. This book is happy, and sad, and inspiring. Brad Cohen talks about his experiences with Tourettes Syndrome as a child and as an adult. It appals me the way he was treated in the classroom, not only by his peers, but by his teachers as well. Everyone wanted him to stop barking, and stop jerking around, and to just sit still and be quiet, but he couldn't. So when I saw the title, I Can't Stop: A Story About Tourette Syndrome, I just had to read it. You can read about special needs in text books, but when you read a real life story about someone with special needs, it becomes real to you. After reading about Brad Cohen, I just had to read more about Tourette's Syndrome, and this was my chance to do it, since there really are not that many books on it.

Nathan is the boy in this book that has Tourette's Syndrome. Much like Brad Cohen, Nathans teachers and classmates do not understand why he doesn't stop sniffing, or barking or jerking his head. Even his mother demanded him to stop, and could not understand why he wouldn't. They took Nathan to the doctors and the doctor said Nathan had Tourette's Syndrome. They were going to watch Nathan for a year and decide if he should go on medication or if his tics were improving. Nathan helped educate his classmates and teachers on Tourette's Syndrome. He felt more comfortable now that people knew he couldn't control his tic, and were not making fun of him all the time. He became closer with classmates and made some good friends. Now, even when kids who did not know Nathan made fun of him, he didn't care because he had friends now, and he knew that the other kids were only making jokes because they did not understand. Nathan became strong with the support of his friends and family. He might not have control of his tics, but he had control of his life, and he wasn't going to let his tics or anyone else ruin his fun. This was a great story, and the book had a lot of good information.

About the Author: Holly L. Niner grew up in Newberg, New York. She is a Speech Therapist with a passion for books. She now lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with her husband, Keith, and her two children, Evan and Beth. She also wrote Mr. Worry: A Story About OCD, because her son has OCD and she wanted to have a book that would teach about OCD that would children and adults could read and learn to understand about OCD.

Genre: Special Needs
Theme/Skill: Informing readers about Tourette's Syndrome.
Grade Level: It is recommended for grades K-4 but it should be read by all ages. Everyone should be more informed on special needs.

Pre-reading Activity: Go around the room and have everyone tell one thing about themselves that they think is different then other people or extra special. Class discussion on how everyone is similar and different, but that everyone is special.

Post-reading Activity:  Students should discuss what they learned about Nathan. How did they feel about the story? If they were friend's with Nathan would they understand his tics? Were all different. When people found out Nathan could not control his tics, they were more accepting of him.

More Wild Critters. Verse by: Tim Jones. Photography by: Tom Walker. (1998).

My son got this book for Easter, and I put it on the bookshelf in his room without even looking at it, I was just looking for one more book to add to my blog when I discovered this treasure. The book is a collection of 22 poems about Alaska's wildlife written by Tim Jones. Each poem has a beautiful photograph or collection of photographs of the animals in the poems. One of my favorites is called Critters in the Garden, by Tim Jones.
"When I go walking in the woods,
I never see a thing,
I never see animal,
on hoof or paw or wing.

There are some big ones out there;
that I know of for a fact.
So how can something
big as a deer, even hide it's rack?

I guess I'll just keep walking,
ever on my guard.
Someday I hope I'll see
some kind of critter in my yard."

Next to the poem is a beautiful photograph of a Mule deer with antlers hiding in the brush. The poems are wonderful, and the photographs really grab you. This book is wonderful; I think it would be enjoyed by children and adults.

About the Author: Tim Jones has lived in Alaska since 1973. He has been a boat captain, a commercial fisherman, a home builder, he has lived in the Bush and has voyaged on the ocean. He will occasionally fall back on his experience as an editor to make a living, "when necessary", as he said. He has written Wild Critters (1992), More Wild Critters (1998), Keep the Round Side Down (1994), Race Across Alaska  (1988), and Alaska and the Last Great Race (1981).

Genre: Poetry
Theme: Poetry, wild animals
Grade Level: Amazon recommends ages 4-8 but I think this is a great book for all ages.

Pre-reading activity: Students should have a discussion about animals that they see in the wild. They should discuss what they think about the animals they see everyday and that they see every once in awhile. What do they look like? What do they act like? Do they remind you of anything?

Post-reading activity: After reading, students should write their own poem about an animal that they have seen, or know a lot about. They should also draw a picture of this animal in it's habitat to go along with their poem.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. By: Bernard Waber. (1965).

I remember reading Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, by Bernard Waber when I was a child. I was reunited with the book a few years ago at one of my practicum sites. The students were in second grade and they were in their reading groups. They were listening to Lyle, Lyle Crocodile on headsets while they read along. The five students in the group were totally engaged. They all were smiling and visibly enjoying themselves. So of course, the first thing I did when I left the school was to head over to Barnes and Noble and buy a copy of Lyle, Lyle Crocodile for my son. He was only 3 or 4 at the time, but he liked the book. It was a little long for him, but he always enjoyed it for as long as a book could hold his attention. He's almost 7 now and we still read it from time to time. It is just one of those classics that kids are always going to enjoy. Who doesn't like to read about a crocodile who lives in an apartment in the city?!?

This book is about Lyle, a crocodile who lives in the city with the Primm family; Mr Primm, Mrs. Primm and their son Joshua. The Primm's neighbor, Mr. Grumps had a cat named Loretta that did not like Lyle, but in the end it was Lyle who saved Mr. Grumps and Loretta. Lyle has many fun adventures in the city; shopping, and ice skating and all kinds of other fun activities! Not your average crocodile!

About the Author: Bernard Waber was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1924. He was a staff Sergeant in the United States Army from 1942-1945. After he left the Army, he went to the Philadelphia College of Art and graduated in 1951. He started writing in 1962.
Genre: Fiction, humor, character education

Theme/Skill: Be positive and kind. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Be a good citizen

Grade Level: K-4

Pre-reading Activity: Discuss with the class what it means to be a good citizen and a good neighbor. Discuss how it makes you feel when you see someone who is not being kind and not being a good neighbor. Have students discuss as well. 

Post-reading Activity: Lyle is the hero. Mr. Grumps announces that Lyle is the bravest, kindest, most wonderful crocodile in the whole wide world. He did not always feel this way about Lyle. Discuss in partners a time when you decided something about someone before you knew them. When you got to know them, did you find out they were different than you thought? Did you find out you had more in common with them than you thought?

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. By: Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. Illustrated by: Lois Ehlert. (1989).

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is a children's classic. What a great story about the letters of the alphabet. Children can learn and practice the letters of the alphabet as they come alive playing around the coconut tree. This is a must read for all preschoolers and children in kindergarten. This story is told in a beautiful rhythm that any child would enjoy. Great book!! My son is a little old for it now, but when he was younger, he loved it!! Now I read it with my daughter who is 21 months and learning the alphabet, and she loves listening to it.

About the Author: Bill Martin Jr. was born in 1916 and died in 2004. He wrote children's books for almost 60 years. He wrote his first book, The Little Squeezy Bug: The Story of the Firefly in 1945. He wrote over 300 books including Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, which was illustrated by his good friend Eric Carle. John Archambault wrote this along with Bill Martin Jr, and the duo wrote a number of other books together.

Genre: fiction, letter awareness

Theme/Skill: Letter recognition and awareness.

Age Level: 2yrs-6yrs.

Pre-reading activity: Students should recite their ABC's. Then in circle time, students should use picture/letter flashcards to identify words that begin with each of the letters of the alphabet.

Post-reading activity: Students should predict what is going to happen next. What order will it happen in? Who will come after a on the race to the top of the coconut tree (and so on...).

The Berensteain Bears and the Trouble With Friends. BY: Stan and Jan Berenstain. (1986)

The Berenstain Bears: Trouble With Friends, by Stan and Jan Berenstain was one of my favorite books growing up! Who doesn't love the Berenstain Bears; I think I had them all (that were published at the time). This one was one of my favorites, probably because I was a bossy little girl myself, much like Sister and Lizzie Bruin in this book. In this book, Sister Bear is sad because Brother Bear is always off playing with Cousin Fred, and his other friends, leaving Sister Bear to play by herself. Then one day, she sees a moving van down the road. A new girl cub was moving in... Lizzie Bruin. Lizzie and Sister became the best of friends right away. Then Sister went over to Lizzie's to play school. Both Lizzie and Sister thought they should be the teacher. They got in an argument and Sister left. Later on, Lizzie came by and Sister and Lizzie made up. This is a cute story about childhood friends, who may not always get along, but learn that they should compromise with one another to keep each other happy.

About the Author: Stan and Jan Berenstain started drawing together when they met in Miss Sweeny's drawing class on the first day of art school at Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now called The University of the Arts) in 1941. Stan went into the Army in WWII, and shortly after his return home, Stan and Jan married. They raised two sons, Mike and Leo. In 1962 then introduced the Bear Family in The Big Honey Hunt. Since 1962, they have created over 300 Berenstain Bear books. In 2005, at the age of 82, Stan died, but Jan and her son Mike continue to write Berenstain Bear books.

Genre: fiction, character education.
Theme/Skill: Character Education: How to be a good friend. Compromise with your friends so that you can both be happy. Take turns, and do what others want also (within reason).
Age Level: 2yrs-7yrs.

Pre-reading activity: Students should talk about the importance of being a good friend. What makes a  good friend? What makes you think someone is not a good friend? Class discussion.

Post-reading activity: Students should write something they like to do with their best friend and they should draw a picture of themselves with their best friend playing together.

My Brother Sammy. By: Becky Edwards and David Armitage. (1999).

My Brother Sammy, by Becky Edwards and David Armitage is a story that all children should read.The book is about a boy, and his brother Sammy, who is Autistic. The boy describes his feelings he has about Sammy, and about the things about Sammy that he does not understand. People are afraid of what they don't understand. If we teach people about special needs at a young age, they will understand more and be more accepting. This book was special to me because I have a child with special needs. Much like Sammy, he doesn't play the same way other children play, and he acts differently, and gets upset easily. When he was younger the difference between him and other children was obvious, but as he gets older, he seems a little less different than the other children. He's learning how to socialize, and through therapies, his world has opened up. I could really relate to this book though, looking back, not understanding why he was acting different than the other children. I now know that he is special, and I wouldn't change him for the world. He's so smart, he's so creative, and he's an all around great kid. When he gets upset by loud noises, we give him earplugs; when its a sunny day, we give him sunglasses; we buy him socks without seems and make sure all the tags are cut out of his clothes. He's different than the other children, but there is nothing wrong with him. Now that we are learning to control some of his sensory issues, he's really coming out of his shell and has been making a lot of friends. His friends know that he gets upset easily, and that he needs help in gym class, and they also know he's fun to play Pokemon with and and to color with. Its when kids are not exposed to people who are different than them that they become scared of those who are different.
The book My Brother Sammy  is all about accepting Sammy for who he is, not wanting to change him. He might play differently, but he's still a lot of fun!

Genre: Special needs, character education
Theme/Skill: Accepting and understanding differences.
Grade level: Kindergarten and up.

Pre-reading activity: Class discussion: What is your favorite thing to play? What are your brother/sister/cousins/friends favorite things to play? Do you always like to play the same things? What is your favorite color? What is your favorite food? Discuss the similarities and differences between the class. Is it okay that we like different things? Is it okay to be different?

Post-reading activity: Everyone should draw a picture of their family. Some families are big, some families are small, but we all love each other. Post everyones' family pictures so students can see the similarities and differences between families.

Mr. Worry: A Story About OCD. By: Holly L. Niner. Illustrated by: Greg Swearingen. (2004).

I was very interested to read Mr. Worry: A Story About OCD for two reasons. The first is that I have never seen a book like this on OCD before, and the second reason being that my best friend's son has OCD, and he is my son's best friend, so we are very close with him, so I have a personal interest to find out more about OCD. I first of all liked the fact that the author, Holly L. Niner has a son with OCD and that is why she chose to write this book.She starts the book with a note to parents and teachers, teaching a little bit about OCD. This is very important, because I always hear people talk openly about having OCD, when clearly they don't. I don't think people understand that just because you like to have a clean house, does not mean you have OCD. OCD is much more severe, their worrying thoughts and obsessions will consume much of their lives. This book is about Kevin, and his life with OCD. Kevin had rituals he had to do before he went to bed, Kevin had to ask questions to double check things over and over again, even if he should have known the answer. He names his obsessions, Mr Worry. In this book, Kevin tries to over come his OCD. In the end he says that when Mr. Worry calls, Kevin tells Mr. Worry that its nonsense and not to call again. That was his way of overcoming the OCD.

About the Author: Holly L. Niner grew up in Newberg, New York. She is a Speech Therapist with a passion for books. She now lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with her husband, Keith, and her two children, Evan and Beth. She wrote Mr. Worry: A Story About OCD, because her son has OCD and she wanted to have a book that would teach about OCD that would children and adults could read and learn to understand about OCD.

*I also want to mention, that when I googled lesson plans for teaching students about special needs (I searched in a variety of ways), I had a hard time finding anything. Usually, if you google a topic for a lesson plan, you will get a laundry list of sample lesson plans. I think teaching students about special needs is very important. I know it is not part of a curriculum, but I was surprised at how difficult it was to find anything. Luckily, I have my own ideas!

Genre: Special needs, character education.
Theme/Skill: Everyone is different. We should not be afraid to be ourselves, and we should embrace others for their differences.

Grade Level: 1-4

Pre-reading activity: Class disscussion on what makes us different. Everyone is diferent. Make a variety of graphs of favorite color, types of ice cream, eye color, fair color, etc. Students will see that many students have similarities and differences, and that some students may have the same eye color, but not like the same type of ice cream, etc. Then have a clas discussion about all the differenes we can see in the graphs.. Students will learn to appreciate their differences.

Post-reading activity:  Disscuss: What is something that was difficult for you to learn how to do? Was there every anything that you did that you wanted to be able to stop doing? Kevin had to teach his brain not to want to do certain things. I want you to write about something you had to teach yourself to do. I want you to write about how you felt when you were trying, how long it took you to do, and how you felt when you accmomplished it.