Sunday, October 21, 2007

Smarty Sunday Book Recommendation: The Short Bus, by Jonathan Mooney


This book I have for you today is certainly a horse of a different color. Many of you who have or work with children with various special needs, or children who aren't diagnosed with "special" needs but just seem a little out of sync with the world, will truly enjoy this book.
As many of you know, I have ADHD, and I also am an adult college student. Not long ago I came across a book called Learning Outside The Lines, which was a book written by two young men. One had ADHD, the other had dyslexia, and both had had miserable times in elementary school and beyond. Yet both had graduated from Brown University, an Ivy League school. The book they had written was a guide for students with learning differences, showing them unique ways to study and learn, ways that the young men had either been taught or figured out for themselves that would work especially well for people with learning differences. I am now using many of these tips as I go through school myself.
Recently I found out that Jonathan Mooney went on to write another book, called The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal.
While trying to market the first book he'd co-written, Jon had contacted different schools and different parents of children with special needs, offering to come do public speaking for them. His book tour put him in contact with many other people, children and adults, with various special needs. Many of them were going through their own miserable experiences at school, including a special ed class whose teacher told them to "Please try to act normal" and a boy whose teacher regularly used a "seat belt" to restrain him at his desk and keep him from moving around the room.
Jonathan decided to go on a different sort of tour. He bought a small bus, the kind of "short bus" often ridden on by children everywhere with special needs. Jon converted this bus into a camper, and set off on a mission to meet and spend time with people who didn't fit into this world. His journey included several boys whose lives mirrored Jon's own, boys who dreaded going to school and who even contemplated suicide to avoid it but who lit up a room when given the chance to pursue their own interests; a young woman with Down syndrome who was an advocate for others with special needs; and a little girl who was both deaf and blind but had mastered the art of cussing out her teachers in ASL.
In The Short Bus, Jon Mooney speaks for all people with special needs and other differences. You'll definitely want to check out this book!

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