Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Learning About Learning Disabilities: The Coping Series by Jeanne Gehret, M.A. (Book Review)

My twins will be starting kindergarten in the fall, and I have to admit that I’m a little nervous about it! Even though they’ve been going to preschool for three years, this is now the “real thing.” They’ll actually be learning how to read, do math, explore science concepts, be responsible for projects, and much more! I can’t help wondering how my boys will do. Will they enjoy school? Will they catch on quickly? Will they have a teacher who is a good “fit” for them? Are they ready for this big step in their lives? I’m sure these are concerns that many parents have at the start of the school year.

School can be especially anxiety-ridden when a child has been diagnosed with a learning disability, such as ADHD or dyslexia. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, nearly 2.9 million school-aged children in the United States have learning disabilities. For these children, not only are there issues related to finding the best educational and instructional tools to meet their needs, but there are also social issues to deal with. No child wants to be labeled as “different” or “difficult.” Author Jeanne Gehret, M.A., has been talking to children about these types of issues for almost twenty-years. And she has written several children’s books in The Coping Series through which children can read about other kids who have the same challenges as they do. These books also help children without learning disabilities better understand children who do. The books in this series include:

Houdini’s Gift

Houdini’s Gift presents animal-loving Ben with the challenge of having another pet after losing his pet hamster. Knowing that Ben is not ready to care for a new pet, his parents help him develop responsibility and readiness by using a reward chart. Young readers will enjoy sharing the secret that Mom keeps from Ben through the whole process of selecting and preparing for the new pet. The advice within the story shows how families living with ADHD or learning disabilities will gain strength by fine-tuning desired behaviors through setting and pursuing goals.

Eagle Eyes

Klutzy Ben wishes he could stop driving away the animals he loves—not to mention his sister Emily! He discovers that his eagle eyes that see everything are typical of a child with attention deficit disorder and begins learning ways to control his attention. The hallmarks of ADD—impulsivity, distractibility, and hyperactivity, as well as difficulty sleeping—are clearly shown in this story. New coping skills include a song to jog his memory, help with falling asleep, and medication. It all pays off one day in the park when his ability to notice everything is the very quality needed to deal with a family emergency.

The Don’t-Give-Up Kid

For Alex, the only thing better than eating his mom’s cookies is being able to read. Hearing how Thomas Edison worked at inventions despite repeated failures gives Alex the courage and determination to persevere at school. His clever and humorous approach to snatching cookies conveys the truth that children with learning disabilities have strengths to admire and celebrate.

Each book includes a series of questions called “Discussion Starters” that help parents and educators talk to kids about the issues in the book. Visit for more information on the terrific Coping Series of books.


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