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Abilities Awareness Week School-Wide Read-Alouds

Elementary Level Selections—Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2

Book: One by Kathryn Otoshi (2008)

Age Level: 4–8 years of age

Disability Highlighted: All disabilities—acknowledging that everyone has differences

Description: (From School Library Journal) Blue is a quiet color. Red’s a hothead who likes to pick on Blue. Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple don’t like what they see, but what can they do? When no one speaks up, things get out of hand — until One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up, stand together, and count. As budding young readers learn about numbers, counting, and primary and secondary colors, they also learn about accepting each other's differences and how it sometimes just takes one voice to make everyone count.

Book: Be Good to Eddie Lee by Virginia Fleming and Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (1997)

Age Level: 4–8 year of age

Disability Highlighted: Down Syndrome

Description: (From School Library Journal) On the first day of summer vacation, Christy follows her friend JimBud to a nearby pond, looking for something to do. When Eddie Lee, a child with Down's syndrome, follows them, Christy tells him to stay home, and JimBud tries to chase him away. Only when Eddie Lee leads the girl to a hidden place to show her frog eggs and water lilies does she fully grasp that everyone is special and has unique, individual gifts. Cooper's (Illustrator) attractive, full-page borderless scenes of the rural South- waist-high, straw-colored weeds; a clear, rippling stone-bottomed brook; hazy green woods and water-are painted in oil wash, but have the smudgy appearance of oil pastel. Clearly the focus of the illustrations is the insightfully realistic portraits of Eddie Lee, and it is Cooper's artful accompaniment to the text that truly brings out the author's positive message.

Poem: “Like Me” by Emily Perl Kingsley

I went to my dad and said to him, there’s a new kid who’s come to my school. He’s different from me and he isn’t too cool. No, he’s nothing at all like me, like me, No, he’s nothing at all like me.

He runs in a funnyish, jerkyish way and he never comes first in a race, sometimes he forgets which way is first base. And he’s nothing at all like me, like me, No, he’s nothing at all like me.

He studies all day in a separate class and they say that it’s called “Special Ed.” And sometimes I don’t understand what he’s said. And he’s nothing at all like me, like me, No, he’s nothing like me.

His face looks kind of different from mine, and his talking is sometimes so slow and it makes me feel funny and there’s one thing I know; He is nothing at all like me, like me, No, he’s nothing at all like me!

And my father said, “Son, I want you to think when you meet someone different and new that he may seem a little bit strange, it’s true, but he’s not very different from you, No, he’s not very different from you.”

Well I guess, I admitted, I’ve looked at his face; when he’s left out of games, he feels bad. And when other kids tease him, I can see he’s so sad. I guess that’s not so different from me, from me, No, that’s not very different from me.

And when we’re in Music, he sure loves to sing, and he sings just like me, right out loud. When he gets his report card, I can tell he feels proud, and that’s not different from me, from me, No, that’s not very different from me.

And I know in the lunchroom he has lots of fun; He loves hot dogs and ice-cream and fries. And he hates to eat spinach and that’s not a surprise, ‘Cause that’s not very different from me, from me, No, that’s not very different from me.

And he always so friendly, he always says hi, and he waves and he calls out my name. And he’d like to be friends, and get into a game, which is not very different from me, from me, No; I guess that’s not very different from me.

And his folks really love him. I saw them at school, I remember on Open School Night—they were smiling and proud and they hugged him real tight. And that’s not very different from me, from me, No, that’s not very different from me.

So I said to my dad, hey you know that new kid? Well, I’ve really been thinking a lot. Some things are different…and some things are not…but mostly he’s really like me, like me, yes, my new friend’s…a lot…like me.

Elementary Upper Grades 3-6 and Junior High Selection

Book: Niagara Falls, or Does It? (First Book in the Hank Zipzer series) by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver (2003)

Age Level: 7 and up

Disability Highlighted: Reading Disabilities and Learning Disabilities

Description: (From School Library Journal) On the first day of fourth grade, Hank's teacher assigns a five-paragraph essay, "What I did on my summer vacation," and he knows he's in trouble. It has always been difficult for him to read, write, and spell so he decides to "build" his assignment instead-to "-bring Niagara Falls into the classroom, water and all." With the help of his friends, he creates a working model, complete with water pump, Saran-wrapped tubing, and a papier-mâché mountain. Predictably, his "living essay" comes to an unfortunate end when a leak leads to a flood and chaos in the classroom. Hank's creativity is rewarded with two weeks' detention and grounding, but his friends are counting on his help for their upcoming magic show. Just when the boy's self-esteem is at its lowest, the new music teacher suspects that he has "learning differences" and suggests that he be tested. Eventually, the misunderstood protagonist convinces his parents to let him perform in the show, which is a big hit, largely thanks to Hank's ingenuity. Less dysfunctional and outrageous than Joey Pigza, Hank Zipzer is the kid next door. Humor, magic, a school bully, a pet dachshund named Cheerio, and a pet iguana that slurps soup at dinner add up to a fun novel with something for everyone.

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