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One of the benefits of COVID has been helping us experience compassion and concern for others in our school community. Never in modern life has the idiom “It takes a village” been more apt. Dealing with a pandemic has given us the ability to admire each other for our abilities to persist in the face of so many obstacles. Having been through many hard experiences together, we have more capacity for empathizing and offering support to one another, a harbinger of a possible future change when it will be endemic to naturally help one another.

It is well documented that undergoing challenging situations, like a pandemic, can undermine our feelings of competence and self-worth. Some days we wonder how we can possibly cope with everything life throws our way. Even parenting can seem like an impossible job. Most of us have unreachably high standards and the tendency to feel guilty when we fall short. “I just yelled at my child, when all I wanted was a great afternoon together.”

In addition, when children are experiencing developmental struggles, it’s easy to experience a sense of discouragement. “Will he be going through this forever?”

Yet in a loving, supportive environment, teachers and parents can partner to adopt a growth mindset, viewing challenges and mistakes as an important source of learning.

One tool for maintaining an expanded, more self-valuing perspective is the use of positive affirmations. Research shows that self-affirmations not only reduce stress and give people a broader perspective, they positively affect brain functioning. When situations feel threatening, self-affirmations can help us reflect on important sources of self-worth and core values. One of the healing aspects of repeating affirmations daily is that they program our minds to step out of our habitual negative thought patterns, like worrying about the future.

Here are some a few examples of affirmations that can help us maintain positive feelings of self-worth even in difficult situations:

  • My efforts now will make a big difference in the long run.

  • It’s okay to accept help when it’s offered. I don’t have to do this all on my own.

  • I can stay calm even when my child is upset.

  • My children need me to take care of myself.

  • My child being angry doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong.

When we learn about the power of affirmations, we gain the ability to help children think positively about themselves even in hard situations. They can practice positive affirmations too. One of the many wonderful aspects of our school community is that we get to know children over many years and watch their individuality emerge. We are indeed a whole village cheering them on to know and believe in who they are.

Last week’s Book Fair was a huge success. We sold more than $9,000 worth of books. The four-day event was a fundraiser for the library. Our share of the sale was about $1,800 before taxes (we don’t know the exact amount yet), plus $800 in “book profit” – books from the fair that we kept.

Literati, the company behind the fair, said we would need to sell $3,500 worth of books to qualify to hold another one next year. “We weren’t sure we’d make it,” said librarian Mari Pongkhamsing, who coordinated the event. “The high total was a happy surprise!”

In addition to buying books for their children, parents also bought many books from the teachers’ “wish list” bins – some teachers were able to refill their bins during the week because parents had bought all the books they’d set aside.

Mari used some of the book profit to fulfill teachers’ wish lists, and the other books were added to the library collection. In addition, a neighborhood realtor donated $500 for books for the library, and a grandparent donated $50 for books for Room 10, the first grade classroom that doubles as our elementary aftercare room.

Nineteen parent volunteers helped over the course of the week, and six staff members helped Mari set the fair up and take it down afterward. “Thank you to all the volunteers – and to the families who came to shop and support us!” Mari said.

The list below, compiled by our Equity & Inclusion Committee of parents and staff members, is split into Early Childhood, Young Readers and Older Kids/Young Adult. There are a wide range of books designed to teach children to be empathetic, inclusive, and accepting of all types of people.

Early Childhood

What Happened to You? by James Catchpole and Karen George

  • Talks about how disabled kids just want to be treated and played with like other kids, and do not want nosy questions!

Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher

  • About life with a disabled mother

My Travelin’ Eye by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

  • About a young girl whose lazy eye lets her see the world a special way

Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar

  • About a deaf bear who can do many things!

I See Things Differently by Thomas Pat

  • A first glimpse at autism

Young Readers

We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch & Anne McGuire

  • A celebration of disability culture and community

Rescue & Jessica by Jessica Kensky

  • Based on a true story about a disabled woman and her service dog

How I Learn by Brenda Miles

  • Introduces the concept of learning disabilities and how it affects one boy at school

A Kids Book about Disabilities by Kristine Napper

  • A straightforward, simple explanation about disabilities

When Charley Met Emma by Amy Web

  • About a boy befriending a physically disabled girl

Awesomely Emma by Amy Web

  • About a girl with limb differences who uses a wheelchair

You are Enough by Margaret O’Hair

  • About inclusion and diversity, inspired by a real girl with Down’s Syndrome

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca

  • A biography of autistic science Dr. Temple Grandin

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott

  • About a boy who speaks with a stutter learning to accept himself

All My Stripes by Shaina Rudolph

  • About a zebra with autism navigating the world

Older Kids/Young Adult

Rolling Hero: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution by Judith Heumann

  • The young adult version of disability advocate Judy Heumann’s autobiography

El Deafo by Cece Bell

  • A graphic memoir of a deaf girl

I am Not a Label by Cerrie Burnell

  • Biographies of disabled artists, advocates, and athletes

Not So Different by Shane Burcaw

  • An autobiography that answers many every day questions people have about living with a disability

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

  • A young adult/adult autobiography of a non-vocal autistic boy

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