Publication Year: 2004
Author: Lesley Ely
Genre: Fiction, Austism
Grade Level: Kindergarten to Grade 3
Theme: Children with disabilities
Skills Taught: Building better character
Summary: Looking After Louis is told from the perspective of a girl who is a classmate of Louis, a boy with autism in an inclusive classroom. At recess, Louis begins talking to a couple of boys who are passing a soccer ball around. Louis is unable to do much with the ball, but when the ball makes contact with Louis's foot, one of the boys congratulate him. When the students come into class from recess, the teacher allows Louis and the boys to go back outside and play with the soccer ball. The girl narrating the story becomes frustrated with the teacher, but she learns to be accommodating, encouraging, and understanding of Louis, and students similar to him.
About the Author: Lesley Ely is a special education teacher who has years of experience working with students with autism. Another book of hers, Measuring Angels, which was published by Frances Lincoln, tells a story of two girls friendship. Lesley works with her good friend Polly Dunbar who illustrates her books. Lesley currently lives in Northampton, United Kingdom, where she continues her joy of writing children's books. (http://www.wheelers.co.nz/books/9781847800480-measuring-angels/?page=4)
For the Classroom
Pre-Reading Activity: I would begin with a class discussion on differences, and how we should appropriately view each other. Introducing the word "Diversity" to our classroom would make a positive step forward, and always make students aware that we should embrace and accept one another's differences.
Post-Reading Activity: After reading the book, students would write in their log books about an event they have seen in school about someone respecting someone else or a time they encouraged a student with special needs. I would call on volunteers to share their log with the rest of the class and hope this activity would make students more consciously aware of building better character.
Reflection: While many children's books include animals or magical characters, this book follows a different path, and one I think many more should follow. Looking After Louis includes a main character with autism in an inclusive classroom. Over the years, we have become aware of the symptoms of autism and how to better tend to children with special needs in an inclusive classroom. This book will help make students aware that children with disabilities need to be accommodated, encouraged, and understood. It usually takes awhile for students to gain these concepts, but once they do, it makes a classroom a much better learning community for all.
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