My journey with author and illustrator Valerie Gorbachev, began when I grabbed Red Red Red from the library. It was a prefect book to use with a language delayed child as well as a child on the autism spectrum–the illustrations were colorful and simple, the story was engaging but not complicated, and there was a simple action on each page that invited wh-questions. Turtle is in a hurry to find something read and as a result, all the friendly forest animals start a line behind him guessing what could be his red prize–maybe racoon’s roses, goat’s red socks, fox’s red roof or a firefighter’s truck. This little parade of animals finally arrives at Turtle’s destination, a beautiful red sunset. The book lends itself to prediction questions, why? questions, brainstorming other red items and descriptions.
In Chicken Chickens Go To School, our little chicks are a bit timid about their first day at school. As they venture toward friendship by saying hello to classmates, they are stopped with a “Sssssssh” from Beaver, Rabbit and Frog who are busy making a tower, listening to a story and trying to sing respectively. These responses lend themselves to talking about emotions and brainstorming on what the chicken’s might do to gain a friend. Finally, during a trip to the meadow, the chicks are faced with crossing the stream alone. Guess which 3 animals offer assistance? Again, before reading the page, ask your child to predict how the animals might help the chicks get across. Talking about the beginning, middle and end and how the characters changed is a good activity for sequence and memory.
Chicken Chickens introduces the chicks to their first day at a playground. All the fun action drawings are great for description–mother hen rocking her babies, the pigs swirling on the merry-go-round, and the cats swinging high. Talk about cause-effect in regard to the chickens’ fear of each piece of equipment. They might get dizzy on the merry-go-round or fall off the swings. Finally, let’s solve the problem of their fear of the slide. How could the different animals help them down? What could they say to the chickens? How did Beaver solve the problem?
Other favorites are:
The Big Trip
That’s What Friends Are For
What authors of picture books do you like for using with kids with special needs? Let’s get a list going to help others.