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Lesson Plan

Inclusive Stories: Teaching About Disabilities With Picture Books

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

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

Krista Sherman

Mason, Michigan


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • The Acorn People by Ron Jones (Dell Laurel-Leaf, 1976)

  • Zoom Upstream by Tim Wynnes-Jones (HarperCollins, 1992)

  • Transparencies and overhead projector

  • Computers with Internet access

  • LCD projector (optional)

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1. Identify and gather picture books that discuss various disabilities. You may choose to focus on disabilities that are present in your school or community. If you are struggling to identify which disabilities to focus on, talk to your school social worker or special education director. He or she will have a good sense of the prevalent disabilities in the school and which ones tend to be more sensitive. The Supplemental Booklist and A Guide to Children's Literature and Disability website should be helpful resources, and you might also contact your school or local librarian for other possible picture book suggestions. You want to have enough picture books so that you can divide your class into small cooperative groups if you choose to (see Session 2).

2. Prepare to discuss disabilities that may be present in your school or classroom. Again, your school social worker and special education director would be primary resources. Let them know that your students will be discussing what school is like for students with disabilities (see Session 1). Ask them for names of students who may be willing to come in and talk with the class. Talk to any students with disabilities in your class and find out how comfortable they are talking about their disability. The school social worker or special education staff may also be available to speak with your students. And ask around your school. You may be surprised how many teachers have disabilities.

3. Obtain and familiarize yourself with The Acorn People by Ron Jones. You will be reading this book aloud, but may choose to have students follow along with their own copies. You may want to start reading the book about a week before beginning this lesson to prime students and help ensure that the book is finished by the time the lesson is completed. During the lesson, you will read for about 10 minutes at the beginning of each session; discussion questions that start at the beginning of the book are listed at the beginning of each session.

4. Obtain and familiarize yourself with Zoom Upstream by Tim Wynnes-Jones. This book has a website, Page by Page: Creating a Children’s Book, that outlines the steps involved in writing a picture book. You will use both the book and the website with students to talk about the process of creating a story and illustrations.

5. Print off one copy of the K-W-L Chart for each student, and if your students are unfamiliar with the K-W-L strategy, make a transparency as well.

6. Make one copy of the Disability Book Sheet, the Picture Book Notes handout, the Disability Research Website List, the Prewriting Sheet, and the Picture Book Rubric for each student in your class. You may also want to have some extra copies of the Disability Book Sheet available for students who read more than two books (see Session 2). Make a transparency of the Specific Disability Picture Book Notes.

7. If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, schedule Sessions 4 and 5 in your school’s computer lab. If possible, arrange to use an LCD projector during Session 5.

8. Visit the websites listed on the Disability Research Website List, and add them to the Favorites list on your classroom or lab computers.

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