3 out of 4 stars
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Snowflakes and station wagons, freckled faces, lemonade, slumber parties, horseback rides, and friends that are just “swell.” These are but a few of the nostalgic details you’ll find dancing across these pages. Do you have the gumption to do what it takes, to face adversity head-on in the quest to overcome?
Give Me A Chance is a unique children’s book by Beth Seiler that highlights the extraordinary strengths of kids with disabilities. Through 8 authentically told short stories, she provides scenarios that encourage readers to learn how these challenged children hope to be treated and accepted, addressed and encouraged. As a teacher with commendable experience in the Special Education setting, she is uniquely suited to reflect on her own observations throughout her years as an educator. As a young girl who came into the world with visual impairment (due to retinopathy of prematurity), she faced a childhood full of discrimination and restrictive limitations. As a woman (and mother) now totally blind, her years of diminishing sight have allowed her to write an authentically meaningful and deeply genuine book about the topics of struggle. Intended to provide the public with a greater understanding of those who are physically limited, cognitively impaired, developmentally delayed, or forever changed by tragic accidents, Seiler becomes a visionary inspiration to us all.
As the stories progress, you’ll find that some of the young characters are simply slow at math, others are blind, hard of hearing, confined to a wheelchair, or congenitally missing a hand. One is even a lonely old man who’s battled depression since his wife passed, and another is a little girl that has cerebral palsy. Most exhibit feelings of nervous trepidation at attending a new school, especially since kids at their previous schools had called them names like: “stupid” and “retarded.” But sometimes kids are deaf (not dumb) and jumping to conclusions simply leads to misinformed first impressions of these otherwise gifted souls.
Many important issues are brought to light, especially through examples that show how some well-meaning teachers can often cause more harm than good by setting lower expectations for their “special” students. Such behavior sets a precedent, quickly perceived by fellow students, that becomes hard to disprove or successfully overcome. These heartwarming and compassionate tales are full of frustrations, joys, limitations, and accomplishments, coupled with determination, perseverance, and a twinkling hope to blend in. Seiler also teaches readers the difference between compassionate acceptance and pity, and why one is more preferable to receive.
Themes of childhood depression, isolation, bullying, name-calling, loneliness, teasing, shame, and crippling self-doubt are present, and there is even an implied mention of necessary gun safety, when a little girl suffers a spinal cord injury from the accidental discharge of an unsecured firearm. But new friends, the healing powers of animal therapy, and the simple joys of outdoor exploration offer a nice balance to the heavier content. There are some grammatical and typographical errors that need to be corrected and addressed, but an additional round of thorough editing could easily provide the final bit of polish. While written at a third or fourth grade reading level, most of the characters are 8 to 11 years old, and I feel this book would be appropriate for grade school students and beyond. Within this 47-page collection, there are included mentions of Braille and large print textbooks, but all of the stories contain lessons that are broadly applicable to a wide range of readers.
**The noted errors by this reviewer have all been corrected within the book**
I award the current version of this book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. One star had to be deducted for the errors I encountered, but I would otherwise gladly award this title a full rating and glowing recommendation. These stories serve as a reminder to us all not to take anything for granted. If you have been gifted the ability to see, hear, run, and think, be eternally grateful for the capabilities you possess. Not all disabilities are readily apparent and “special accommodations” need not be made unless specifically requested.
Give Me A Chance
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