Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Love That Cat - Cat Books, Part 1

Rainbocalico by holly lu conant rees
Actually, I have no idea if there will be a Cat Books Part 2.
I am hoping you will send an indignant comment/email, 
"How could you forget about ______!"
Then I can write Part 2.
Here, in roughly reading level order: 
The Shy Little Kitten (Golden Book)
The Golden Book series offers 
gentle, sweet tales for kids, often with a
very sympathetic animal protagonist.
The Shy Little Kitten is by Cathleen Schurr and illustrated by 
Gustaf Tenggren, illustrator of The Poky Little Puppy.
Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat
by Cynthia Rylant.
The Henry and Mudge books are kid favorites.
with lots of illustrations and short, easy
chapters, these fun boy/dog tales are
great early readers. In this one Henry adopts
an ugly cat who becomes great friends with
his dog Mudge.
Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech
My boy loved this book because of its
poem format. He didn't engage with the
story of a boy struggling with his mother's
deafness. But he really enjoyed
the look of the words on the page and
all the other poems at the back of the 
book.
-Spectrum Mom


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Talent Tuesday - Spotlight on Gifts


Pretend today is Tuesday.
Talent Tuesday is when I feature books by people in
the autism community.
Two of my favorite people/authors in the community
are Leo and Leisa.
Leo is a young adult with autism. 
Leisa has a daughter with autism.
Leo’s book follows a ferret.
Leisa’s book follows families. 
I’m thinking about them because 
I’m thinking about the many talents
people with autism have.
Leo’s authorship is not just his gift of words.
His book demonstrates his gifts of focus and determination.
Leisa’s book features many talented people with
autism, especially her daughter Grace (Grace
creates amazing art).
We all have unique ways of engaging with the
world.
Sometimes these ways trip us up. 
Sometimes they let us soar.
The stereotyped picture of someone with autism 
too often misses their talents entirely or dismisses 
them as something freakish - “splinter skills” or
“savant ability” as if they are not connected to
the person and all that they are. 
These gifts offer others the wonderful 
chance to better understand how that person interacts 
with us and the world.
I want to share this perspective. I’m still working on how. 
Will you help me? Would you send me a note about your gifts
(if you have autism) or your kid's (any age with autism) gifts?
 autismreads@gmail.com


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When Your Kid Rejects Your Favorite Kids' Books Part 2


Last week I asked for your suggestions on what to
do when your children reject your favorite books.
Many thanks to D. Marcotte who sent in a good one -
letting your children select and read the abridged
versions of classic stories.
Here a few of my thoughts:
1) Give them time. 
Every day brings a flood of posts
about other people's second graders reading Harry
Potter or Lord of the Rings. And some kids w autism
may do that. But most kids with or without autism
will not. That is OKAY. If you introduce a favorite
that is soundly rejected, wait a year or two and try again.
2) Be sneaky. 
My father had beloved books that he would offer with
a kind of righteous urgency usually reserved for green
vegetables at dinner (he hated vegetables so he had a
lot of urgency to spare). This meant I avoided Kim and
King of the Khyber Rifles for months - but when he stopped
talking about them and just left them in my way, I read and
loved them. Don't make a speech about the book, just 
hand it over when they're in the back seat of the car
or looking bored.
3) Be direct.
Get it out and start reading it at bedtime. Put the
audio version on at home or on the road. If they
hate it, go back to number one.
4) Watch the video.
If you want to share the story, but the book presents
a barrier, there's probably a movie or tv version 
somewhere. Find it and share that way.

Now I know there are more and better suggestions
out there. Make them! Make them here!
(please). 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When Your Kid Rejects Your Favorite Kids' Books Part 1

If you're like me, you couldn't wait to open up 
Alice in Wonderland,  Wind in the Willows
and the other books you adored as a kid and share them with your child.
If you did, and you and your child joyously bonded as
you read, mazel tov. You can stop reading now.
That did not happen for me. While we started
happily enough with Boynton, there quickly came
a day when he rejected But Not the Hippopotamus,
and soon wouldn't let me read to him at all. 
We worked through it.
He enjoyed almost all of Dr. Seuss and Madeline,
though he started to prefer to read to himself.
Next came The Nursery Alice which I doggedly
read aloud, despite the calm apathy he radiated.
And that was about it. Subsequent attempts
with The Jungle Book and Just So Stories 
were unwelcome and I cut them short.
I started looking somewhat desperately
for what he would like, while he contentedly
read and reread Dr. Seuss.
(digression Your Favorite Seuss is in his
high school library-do other kids his age
still read Seuss?).
What to do?
I don't have a solution, just some thoughts. 
But this post is long enough.
Why don't you comment, email me
- autismreads@gmail.com- or post
on the autismreads facebook page.
And I'll be back next week with what
wisdom I can muster.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dragons Part Two - Flying Higher



In some ways, I'm totally out of my depth
writing about chapter books for kids with
autism. My son reads them for school 
with great difficulty and does not read
them for pleasure. 
If you are or have a teenager with autism that
likes to read books for teenagers-send me
a review! 
(autismreads@gmail.com)
Fame, glory, (as much as I
get - in other words, close to nil) 
or
near complete anonymity can be yours!
(I have to know who you are)
I continue to read books about dragons myself.
Anne McCaffrey
explored the glory of raising a dragon
in The Dragonriders of Pern series.
One of her best is The White Dragon about a "misfit"
dragon and isolated boy which I discuss more here.
The Dragon Book features short stories
by contemporary fantasy writers 
(Tad Williams is the best, and your
teen may also love Tailchaser's Song).
For a reader mature enough to handle
a fair amount of sadness and death,
(not younger than 13, 15 would probably
be better) I recently discovered 
Patricia Briggs'
Dragon Bones and Dragon Blood,
extremely satisfying books, with a
fascinating view of dragons.
I don't remember the dragon (s?) in
Guards, Guards! but Terry Pratchett
is hilarious and older teens love him.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dragons - for the Young Flyers

Dragons!

If your child is fascinated with dragons,
there are some wonderful books out there.
The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame*
is a gentle, funny fable about a misunderstood
dragon and the boy who helps him find a way
to coexist with those who fear him
(for a contemporary graphic novel take, 
look at The Monster on the Hill-a dragonish
creature who isn't scary enough).
The Reluctant Dragon boasts a Disney movie
and a play based on it as well.
You may already know the How to Train Your
Dragon movies are based on the books by Cressida
Cowell. They're fun. (I've a special
liking for the picture book that started it all-
Hiccup the Viking-but it's not Dragony).
Elsewhere on the blog I've discussed
My Father's Dragon, an excellent series 
for read aloud or early chapter books.
Dav Pilkey's Dragon series is as funny
and goofy as you would expect from the Captain 
Underpants writer, but much sweeter than
you might think and bridges the gap
between picture book and chapter book.

Next week I'll give some choices for more
advanced readers. I already wrote about
my favorite for tweens/teens here.
*a note about today's links - "Monster" & "here" take
you elsewhere in the blog. "Dragon" takes you to Amazon
and the lush Michael Hague illustrated edition.
Full disclosure: If a lot of you click through and buy that, they'll give me a credit.
Not to worry, I've earned one $20 credit in the five years I've blogged.





Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back to Johnny Boo

Currently my boy with autism is struggling with The Odyssey.
I really don't have anything to say about that yet,
other than that it's slightly ridiculous to expect him
to understand The Odyssey.
But if you want your kid to get a regular diploma .  .  .
My reluctant reader without autism is reading
Johnny Boo.
A few things about this make it relevant to this blog:
1  Full color pages with a few words per page invite
many reluctant readers.
2  Graphic Novels/Comics appeal to kids.
For more of those, see this post.
3  He's reading it in the car.
With both boys, if I hand them a book in the car, 
or leave a book in the car, they at least look at it.
This puts that book a few dozen nags ahead of 
other books.

On another note, if you're in the Nashville area,
don't forget The Billy Goats Gruff Creative
Dramatics Story Time at Green Hills Library
at 10:30.