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Lesson Plan

Inclusive Stories: Teaching About Disabilities With Picture Books

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Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions, at minimum
Lesson Author

Krista Sherman

Mason, Michigan


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



This lesson incorporates the staples of a strong secondary English lesson: read-aloud, independent reading, research, and writing. It also encourages students to explore a variety of disabilities with the goal of teaching them to think critically and sensitively about differences. Throughout the lesson, students read The Acorn People by Ron Jones, which tells the story of a camp for children with disabilities. Students also read, analyze, and synthesize information from picture books about disabilities. They then choose a disability to research using a variety of websites and create a picture book about the disability.

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Prewriting Sheet: Use this handout to have students synthesize the information they have collected and to begin writing their stories.

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Kitterman, J.F. (2002). Children's books and special needs students. The Reading Teacher, 56(3), 236240.

  • Inclusive education efforts mean students with high-incident disabilities are often found in general education settings.

  • A teacher's attitude is crucial in the acceptance of students with disabilities. Teachers must model acceptance.

  • Teachers are responsible for the effectiveness of inclusion.

  • Picture books broach the subject of disabilities and differences in "uncomplicated language."


Zambo, D. (2005). Using the picture book Thank You, Mr. Falker to understand struggling readers. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(6), 502512.

  • Picture books can motivate older learners because they are familiar and because they often have mature themes, captivating story lines, and interesting illustrations.

  • Stories are a natural way to learn and picture books have an intrinsic, universal appeal.

  • Picture books can be used with a variety of learners and act as a way for students to learn about themselves, and build resiliency, empathy, and moral reasoning.


Albright, L.K., and Ariail, M. (2005). Tapping the potential of teacher read-alouds in middle schools. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(7), 582591.

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