Written by Julia Finley Mosca, illustrated by Daniel Rieley
This book is a really accurate depiction of Autism Spectrum Disorder and shows Temple as a dynamic, positive character as we read about some important events in her life. It encourages self-reflection by relating directly to the audience about feeling like they don’t fit in. Even though it’s an autobiographical book, it’s written in nice short, engaging sentences that allow for fun voices and interpretations to keep it really interesting. It identifies autism in a positive way and shows how she’s similar to other kids.
The book jumps around between some of her major life events without a lot of explanation in between, making it not a super strong narrative–more like briefly describing major life highlights. Since in reality, Temple Grandin did some complicated livestock work, but the descriptions of that work isn’t very clear in the book: it seems like the author doesn’t attempt to get into detail of those things, making some parts a little vague. Instead, the book focuses on the takeaways of thinking differently and being brave and persistent.
During the reading:
- Talk about Temple’s feelings throughout the book and relate them back to your child. For example, she feels sad and scared because of the loud sounds and people around her! If your child has ever experienced something like that, ask them to tell you about that experience and see how they relate to Temple’s feelings. Or if your child has ever felt uncomfortable with the clothes they have to wear, or when somebody hugs them when they don’t want to be hugged, ask them to tell you about that and show how they are similar to Temple in that way to build empathy and realize that they’re similar to somebody with autism.
- Talk about the things your child has in common with Temple, like how she likes ice cream and art. This will help your child to continue to build empathy and make autism less scary and more relatable.
- You can talk about how lots of people didn’t understand the way she thought about things and why she did things a certain way, so they weren’t nice to her. Explain how even when people are different from you, you should be nice to everyone and see how everyone can do great things with their differences! You can show how because she was so brave and kept going, she was able to help lots of people with the unique way she thought.
- Tell your child the ways in which you see them as special, too! Encourage them to be brave and share your good ideas. Make sure and put more emphasis in who your kids are becoming and not as much on what they become.
- Show great belief in your child’s ability to succeed like Temple. Often, parents’ belief in their children’s success is even more important than the childrens’ own belief (which is quite pivotal), so express great confidence in them! If a child thinks they cannot be successful, they will not be motivated, and then will have low achievement. Greater motivation = greater achievement!
- As you read about Temple’s education and experiences on the ranch, talk about how she studied and worked really hard. Try to emphasize the work that she put into her achievements more than any natural ability to accomplish her work. That way, even when something doesn’t come naturally to your kids, they won’t think, “oh, I’m just not a math person” or, “I’m just not good at soccer”. You’ll be better equipping them to be persistent since they’ll know that natural talent only plays a small role in success.
- Teach what persistence means as you read along so that your child can build their understanding of what it means through the many examples in the book.
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