Today’s guest blogger is Leslie Anido, a special needs teacher in California. She first connected with First Book as a member of long-time partner Pi Beta Phi Fraternity. She now receives books and resources for the children she serves through First Book.
“Books have helped our students look beyond their differences and discover their similarities, regardless of appearance or skills,” explains Leslie.
Leslie’s students’ physical, medical and communication abilities mean many use assistive technologies to aid their learning. Though they learn differently than their peers, they have the same interests, dreams and love of books.
Books from First Book have helped start a dialogue about disabilities at Leslie’s school. Most recently, the students read “Out of My Mind,” by Sharon Draper, featuring a main character who uses an augmentative communication device, which three of Leslie’s students also use.
Her students have been able to relate to these characters on a very personal level. Their peers have also gained a greater understanding of what life is like for kids who rely on learning tools and assistance. They are now initiating and engaging in conversations with Leslie’s students more frequently. These books have served as more than just an educational resource. They’ve become tools for developing an understanding of community and inclusivity within the school.
“The lives of our students have been truly enriched by the availability of these books,” says Leslie.