It all began with a request for Bookworm to participate in Sethu‘s Autism Awareness Week event at the Garica d’ Orta Park, Panjim.
It was hardly a blue suggestion, and one that required an affirmative response.
So, I set to work , thinking of how we could participate and keep reading central. This should be a no brainer for any event, but for an Autism Awareness Event, it proved to be a brain twister.
I began with researching libraries and how they approach Read Alouds for children with Autism or like. It was hard reading, trying to sift through what was necessary for practise and what is the reality and can work. Given my extremely limited experience with working with children with autism I had a lot of reading ahead of me and I conquered some.
I was able to pull out some established truths that we put into a hand out for parents. My Lit review was done, I was eager to now get into the main research questions – what books to choose ? and how to read aloud .
I am blessed to have younger colleagues who listen, learn and also do their own research. So I shared some of my findings with Sheena who would be my story teller for the evening and we set about finding books that fitted the 3 R’s – Routine, Repetition and Reinforcement.
We found a nice list of books that fit the ‘key’ idea of good books for children with autism / related disorders in our collection and we share it here.
- Lyle Lyle Crocodile – Bernard Waber
- The Three Billy Goats Gruff
- 10 Minutes Till Bed Time – Peggy Rathmann
- Sameer’s House – Nina Sabnani
- Sea in a Bucket – Avehi Abacus
- Bindi Su – Milan Khanolkar
- If You Take A Mouse To School – Laura Numeroff
- Sheep In A Jeep – Nancy E Shaw
- Clap Your Hands – Lorinda B Cauley
- Colour Zoo – Rob Campbell
- Freight Train – Ezra J Keats
- Goodnight Moon – M W Brown
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
- Leo The Late Bloomer – R Kraus
- Swimmy – Leo Leonni
- Wheels Of The Bus
- There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly
Sheena identified a host of other wonderful non fiction books, photo books, books that can used for social story telling, word books, song picture books and we were set.
What I learnt through this week of preparation is that books are inclusive. They are meant to be shared and if you know what and for whom you are looking for a book, you will find one ! Books include us and we can be inclusive when we include books.
What I also learnt is that it is hard to find books where the character has special needs. this is an old theme of concern but was brought very sharply to light in my search this past week. We pride ourselves ( and rightly so!) on our book collection – it is over 16000 books and growing, all carefully selected and cover a wide range of issues – but books on disability are hard to find. Why ?
Books with autism at the heart of the story / character / context we do not own and this must change. I am creating a wish list and hoping that it will be fulfilled as we go along. We need an inclusive collection to promote inclusive reading in an inclusive society.
We set off this afternoon, armed with books, blocks, more books and our puzzle logo in support of Autism .
We learnt a lot and we will continue to learn as we discover and uncover more puzzling aspects of life that are yet to captured in books. Until then, we share what we have and we work with all children and communities and we thank Sethu for reminding us about this.