New for 2012: instead of the random book review posts, I’m starting a Weekend Read post every Friday. A book suggestion for the weekend (or whenever), when you’ve got a couple of lazy days ahead and need a book to read.
As a teacher, I come into contact with a wide range of learning styles, personalities, and needs. It’s just part of my job. And while I took all the required courses in undergrad (and some in my graduate studies) about students with special needs, I don’t think a teacher is ever really prepared for that challenge. I can have a bag full of differentiated instruction, interventions, and alternative assignments, but until I know that student individually and understand their needs, all my fancy schooling means nothing.
And all my years of schooling didn’t teach me half as much as I learned from reading the young adult novel, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. To peek into the mind of an almost-eleven year old with Asperger’s syndrome has open my eyes and mind in a way a textbook never could.
The narrator, Caitlin lives in a world of black and white due to her autism. But when her older brother is killed in school shooting, things get all fuzzy. It’s heartbreaking to watch her and her dad struggle through the fog to try and heal. And what they eventually create is beautiful and hopeful.
This book made me laugh out loud at how literal Caitlin is and the confusion that sometimes causes. And then I cried when she tries to make everything alright for her dad while not fully knowing how to handle the tragedy herself. This book is just lovely.
Sharing with my students: There are some people I would not want to read this book because they couldn’t handle it, would not be gentle and loving with Caitlin. I feel like I need to protect her and sharing this book with some kids would somehow do damage to this sweet girl. This is a book that many people need to read (educators or not) but some of my students won’t be mature enough to read Mockingbird. They would just use it as entertainment or as a way to make fun of someone. And this book, and Caitlin, deserve more than that.