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  • 1. Evaluating Children’s Books that Address Disability as a Part of Diversity Book Title: We’ll Paint the Octopus Red Written by: Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen Illustrated by: Pam De Vito Publisher: Woodbine House, 1998 Accessed the book from Centennial College Library Nasim Khan Student ID: 300621777 Course Code & Sec: ECEP-233/01 Instructor: Prof. Chris Cadieux Date: February 08, 2013
  • 2. A Short Synopsis of the Story“We‟ll Paint the Octopus Red” is a children‟s story book that addresses disability.This book has been written by Stephanie Stuve- Bodeen, and illustrated by PamDevito. It is a very meaningful, touching, and learning book for children. This is anexcellent book to teach young children about Down syndrome. This book alsoencourages children not to discriminate but to become friends with people withdisabilities. The perspective of this story has been woven through discussionsbetween Emma, a 6 years old girl, and her father about the arrival of a new baby.The author nicely illustrated the dimensions of a child‟s imagination about thearrival of a new member in the family. Initially, Emma (the existing girl) is not atall interested to do anything with the new baby. But when her dad told that Emmawould be able to help change the new baby‟s diapers, she replied, “That soundsyucky” (p3). She is not interested to roll a ball to the baby, to read books with him,and to play with him kickball in the backyard. She thinks that the new baby willshare her privileges, so she is not ready to share the upcoming new born baby. Buther father motivated her slowly to attract attachment with the new born baby. ThenEmma thought of herself „at least a million things‟ she would be able to do withher new brother or sister. She thought that they would feed calves with a nipplebottle in grandpa‟s firm, paint a picture with an octopus, go to see Aunt Wendy, goto Africa on a safari etc. She developed some positive attitude towards the newNasim Khan Page 2
  • 3. child in her own world of imagination. Finally, she is now ready to accept the childmentally.In such a situation, she received a message from her dad that the baby was bornwith Down syndrome. Emma observed her father‟s eyes red when he labelled themessage to Emma. She did not know what Down syndrome is, but she made herown explanation of Down syndrome. She developed an idea that the new baby willnot be able to do anything she thought earlier. However, the author explainedDown syndrome to Emma through her dad. The book nicely explained why somechildren get it and the reason of parents‟ sadness when a baby with Downsyndrome is born. Her dad told that Isaac (the new baby) would be able to doeverything with a little help.This story will help the children understand that a child with Down syndrome cando activities like other children. Children with Down syndrome can do any activityif they are supported with patience and helping initiatives. The question-answersection of this book will help the children to understand more about Downsyndrome and related issues.Nasim Khan Page 3
  • 4. A Checklist to Evaluate Children‟s Books that Address Disability as Part of DiversityCircle T for each statement that is true and F for each statement that is False.1. Check the Illustrations:Stereotypes: There are no stereotypes promoted in this book.T or F (True)No stereotype illustration is presented in the story. In the illustration, I saw thatIsaac is doing all works like a healthy typical child. For Example, the illustrationhas shown that Emma and Isaac are standing in front Aunt Wendy‟s door. Theillustration is not showing any disability syndrome. All children including thosewith Down syndrome will get encouraged with this positive illustration.Who’s doing what: The children/characters with disabilities haveleadership and/or action roles.T or F (True)Emma and her father were thinking about the activities that the new born babywould do in future. They imagined that he will be able to feed calves, stick out histongue at car with some extra help. The illustration shows that Isaac is doingeverything with his sister in his own way like a healthy baby, and Emma is helpinghim.Nasim Khan Page 4
  • 5. 2. Check the Story Line:Standards for success: The characters with disabilities are accepted for theirown individual behaviours.T or F (True)The article „Nine ways to Evaluate Children’s Books‟ addresses Disability as Partof Diversity, and has mentioned, “To gain acceptance and approval, the child withdisability should not have to exhibit extraordinary qualities”(p1). In this storywhen the boy was born with Down syndrome, the family accepted him as anindividual. Emma and her father were discussing that the new born baby withDown syndrome will do everything like any other baby, but he need more time andhelp.Resolution of Problems: The characters with disabilities help resolve theproblem.T or F (False)Isaac is a new born baby who cannot resolve any problem. Emma thought thatIsaac would not be able to do lots of thing like sticking his tongue, visiting AuntyWendy‟s house, or going to a safari in Africa. Dad said Isaac would be very goodat those things. Her father is explaining how the baby would be resolving theproblems in future with little help. When Emma asked her father, “If Isaac has thisdown thing then what can‟t he do?” Her father replied, “As long as we were patientwith Isaac, and helped him when he needed it, there probably wasn‟t anything hecouldn‟t do.”Nasim Khan Page 5
  • 6. Role of the character with a disability: The same story could be told if thecharacter did not have a disability.T or F (False)The Down syndrome of the baby gave a climax to the story. It has made itnontraditional. In the absence of the disable character the story would not continuefurther. This disable character enriched the story by new thoughts and ideas aboutdisable children by family members. It has developed curiosity to the readers whatwould be next, and what is going to happen.3. Consider the Effects on a Child‟s Self-Image: There are one or more characters with whom a child (reader) with a disability can readily identify as a positive and constructive role model.T or F (True)The character, Isaac, is a perfect role model for children with disability. Isaac is apositive character showing his future participation in activities that attract otherchildren with Down syndrome. As a reader or listener a child can be encouragedwith understanding that any child is able to do activities despite they have physicaldifferences.4. Consider the Author and/or Illustrator‟s Background: The author and/or illustrator‟s background strengthens the value of his/her work.T or F (True)The author‟s background strengthens the value of her writing. She is an awardwinning children‟s author. As a teacher of early childhood class in YMCA, and amother of two children she is able to understand children‟s points of view as wellas parent‟s points of view. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania (backpage of the book). So she has knowledge about different communities. She alsowrote Elizabeti‟s Doll (Lee & Law books) which is the winner of the Ezra JackKeats Award. She wrote another book about disability named “The Best WorstBrother”. By this story „We‟ll Paint the Octopus Red‟ she tried to removestereotype ideas about a child with Down syndromeNasim Khan Page 6
  • 7. 5. This book is developmentally appropriate for preschoolers?T or F (True)This book is appropriate for preschoolers. This book is intended for children fromages 3-6 years. The words used in this book are very simple and natural. Forexample, when Emma‟s father gave her many choices she replied to her father,“That sounds boring”, “I don‟t know how to read yet” (p3, 4). The preschoolerchildren could find similarities with the story character. In this story the author didnot use any stereotype or any offensive terms.Nasim Khan Page 7
  • 8. Short paragraphThis story addresses a positive attitude towards children with disability. The authorgave the way out, how the ability of children with Down syndrome could beincreased. The author stated that a child with Down syndrome can do everythinglike other children with some extra help and care. The style of the story helpedEmma to develop positive attitude towards a child with Down syndrome. In thisstory, dad explained the situation to Emma about a child with Down syndromethrough a long discussion. It helped Emma to believe that the child will be able todo everything she thought. But the author did not forget the reality. She mentionedthe emotion of dad by saying „red eyes‟ of dad. It created negative impression inthe mind of Emma about a child with Down syndrome. So she guessed, „Isaacwon‟t be able to play kickball with me‟ (p13). The author presented the reality thatevery parent has an expectation for a healthy baby, but when they have a baby withsome disability they need some time to cope with it. As mentioned in the book„We’ll Paint the Octopus Red‟, “Grown-ups might be sad because they did not planto have a baby with Down syndrome………then they can stop being sad andscared and just enjoy their new baby” (question-answers # 6, Question answersection of this book).Nasim Khan Page 8
  • 9. Yes, I recommend this book for preschool children. This will open their positiveattitude towards people with disability. This story will help them to learn that achild with Down syndrome can do everything like others. They are not different.Preschoolers will accept them as an individual with their strengths and weaknesses.This will help reducing social stigma and isolation with Down syndrome.Nasim Khan Page 9
  • 10. Self-EvaluationStrengthsPractical experience of working with preschoolers during my field placement is mystrength. I know what types of story they like, and what type of books areappropriate for them. Moreover, the checklist as described in the handout „NineWays to Evaluate Children’s Books that Address Disability as Part of Diversity‟helped me to evaluate the story for the preschoolers. My passion drove me findingthe appropriate book, and evaluating the book on time.ChallengesThis is the first time that I have evaluated a children‟s book that addressesdisability as part of diversity. I worked hard to find the relevant books at bookstores, in my local public library, and college library. I could find very limitednumber of children‟s books that address disability as part of diversity. I havesearched through the internet to find names of some children‟s books that addressdisability as a part of diversity. I selected name of some books including theedition, writer, publisher, and library catalogue numbers. Then I went to the bookstore „Indigo‟ to buy the book. But I did not find any related book that I needed.Next day, I went to the local Toronto Public Library. I tried for half an hour myselfto find a children‟s book that addresses disability as part of diversity. Then INasim Khan Page 10
  • 11. approached the librarian to find me a book. The Librarian gave me two books thataddress disability as part of diversity. I borrowed those books, I read them, but Iwas not satisfied. Then I have searched Centennial College online library for morebooks. I found the book „We’ll Paint the Octopus Red‟ at the library, and put it onhold online. Next week, I went to the Centennial Library, talked to the librarianabout the book that I put on hold, and got it. I read the book several times, and thenI read the assignment package related to this assignment. I read the book again.These steps helped me to work on this assignment.Future PlansAfter completing this assignment, I have developed an in-depth idea aboutcritically thinking and evaluating a children‟s book before reading it to thepreschoolers. I also developed insight about choosing the books for children withspecial needs. In future, I will apply nine ways to evaluate a story book moreeffectively.Learning OutcomeI have developed valuable positive learning skills while doing this assignment. Forthe first time I have evaluated a book for preschoolers based on nine ways. I readthis book and saw the illustrations as a critic. I have learned how to choose andpresent a book to the children. I have also learned that children with disabilityNasim Khan Page 11
  • 12. should not be treated and viewed differently. According to the nine ways toevaluate children‟s books, “The Children with disabilities should not only functionin supportive or, subservient roles.” (Nine ways to evaluate children‟s that AddressDisability as Part of Diversity, p1). I believe that this assignment is the gateway tothe vast world of inclusion as a subject of study. This assignment will help me infuture to choose books for the students in the classroom as an ECE. It will also behelpful to handle the children with Down syndrome. From this book I have learnedthat I will give the extra time and care, and will be more patient with such children.Nasim Khan Page 12
  • 13. Bibliography 1. Stuve-Bodeen, S. (1998). We‟ll Paint the Octopus Red. Bethesda (MD): Woodbine House Inc. 2. Nine Ways to Evaluate Children‟s Books that Address Disability as Part of Diversity. Handout by Chris Cadieux. 3. Recommended Reading for Siblings. Retrieved on Jan 26, 2013 from Khan Page 13