Children’s Book on Inclusion – What are your Superpowers? by Marget Wincent, OTR

Children’s Book on Inclusion – What are your Superpowers? by Marget Wincent, OTR

Ah! I LOVE this book! Just finished reading What are your Superpowers? by Marget Wincent, OTR and the smile on my face says it all! I can’t wait to go over it one more time. I want to read it out loud to enjoy the beautiful rhyming text. I want to savour the inspiring messages that help ALL children understand kids with different needs or I should say “different strengths”. Bravo to both Marget Wincent, the author, and to Charity Russell, the illustrator, on this excellent book which we highly recommend.

With 35 years’ experience working with families as a pediatric occupational therapist, Marget Wincent says she recognizes the superpowers in every child. She knows first-hand that through education and awareness follows acceptance and inclusion. Ms. Wincent wanted to share the message that every child is valued and deserves to be included.

What are your Superpowers? is alive with beautiful colors and detailed illustrations. The soft pastel colored pages on the left-hand page only have the short four lines of text. The text in bold font is easy to read for young readers who love the “chant like” rhythm. It is good for beginning readers to have a left-hand page with text and a right-hand page, which face each other,  with a supporting illustration or vice versa. Caregivers/teachers can discuss the illustrations using the words used in the text and when the child reads it independently it will be easier.

Each page of text focuses on a different way of doing things by kids who are using their “superpowers”.  Each page can be used as a springboard for discussion about a child’s differences, the things that make this child truly unique which can be viewed as his superpower.

The adult sharing this book with a child will have lots of opportunities to discuss why some folks need aids like a wheel chair, picture schedule, or white cane. Others need a service dog or Hippotherapy.  Some kids’ superpowers are skills in math, or remembering facts, noticing details, or using sign language to communicate. Some people have an acute sense of hearing or taste, or boundless energy.

The excerpt below, shows how What are Superpowers provides an entry to discussing the reason behind the “white cane” and the “Braille Alphabet and Numbers” used by people who are blind or visually impaired. If I was reading this marvelous book to a class, I would also bring out the books on Louis Braille and Helen Keller so my students could learn more about this topic.

Excerpt from What are your Superpowers?

I have hands that glide

    and use a cane.

I read books by touch

   and that’s my game.

Guest Post by Marget Wincent, OTR

What are your Superpowers?

Children’s Book on Inclusion

 A description of the book- What are your Superpowers?

From the charming cover of three children signing “I Love You” to the colorful rhyming story on each page, What are your Superpowers? celebrates the abilities of all children. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from acting, dancing, enjoying sports, riding horses or wheelchairs, playing quietly or finding hidden treasures in the park.  The beauty and talents of children are explored with the message “We are all unique and our differences can be our Superpowers!”

The reason I wrote the book:

Our family entered the community of people with disabilities when our first son, Zach, was diagnosed with Down syndrome. I had been working as a pediatric occupational therapist for 8 years and had rich experiences supporting children with a range of diagnoses and educating parents. Through our journey, the greatest life lessons my family learned – it takes education (of others) and awareness (of differences) to open minds and hearts to acceptance and inclusion. When out on playgrounds with Zach or his sister Zoe (adopted from China), there always seemed to be a bully who would yell out, “hey retard, go home”. I couldn’t believe that an elementary school age child could be so cruel. So, our family developed a mantra to FORGIVE, then EDUCATE! and we did, by writing letters to local editors, pushing for inclusion in school and clubs, rallying parents with similar backgrounds to become united at the school level, starting parent support groups.

By observation, it was easy to see that some students who lacked experiences of interacting with a peer who spoke differently, used adaptive equipment or a wheelchair might be hesitant to get to know the new student with different abilities. Using simple explanations at the student’s level of understanding and modeling natural interactions with all of the children seemed the best way to encourage the development of friendships and empathy.

Always active at school in the life of my children, we started an inclusive club, the first in our high school, where students participated in social activities together (not isolating the special education teens as a group). It was successful and still active in our HS. In 2008, our son Zach was given an authentic sign of friendship and love from his high school Senior Class by being voted Prom King. In a school of 2100 students, in a far west suburb of Chicago (St. Charles North HS), this was unconventional for the time.

Reflecting back on our classroom experiences, I did not see books that were written for the purpose of celebrating the strengths of all kids from an early age (Pre-K to 5th grade) that showed children working and playing (with a range of disabilities). Many books written for children to learn more about differences are “disability specific”. I wanted to write a book that represents all children and asks a very simple but powerful question on the last page. I haven’t seen a book that shows a child at school with his service dog, a child using a picture schedule or children acting or riding horses, or someone that is sensory sensitive. What a wonderful display of Superpowers!

The target audience it is for children Pre-K to Fifth grade.


Excerpts from What are your Superpowers?

A sample of the pages within the book:

Children at work, children at play,

use superpowers every day.


 

I have a four-legged friend who keeps me calm.

I’m always successful when Mo comes along.


 

I can speak a language without making a sound.

My hands sign the words and never let me down.


 

I can help tell a story up on stage.

Acting gives me a chance to NOT act my age.


 

I have an emotional, caring heart.

I can sense when your feelings are wiggling apart.


 

I have magic hands tossing all types of balls.

If you need to practice, just give me a call.

Authors Bio:

Marget Wincent, OTR, author of Children's Book on Inclusion - What are your Superpowers?Marget Wincent, the author of “What are your Superpowers?” is a seasoned mom and pediatric occupational therapist (for 35 years), whose ministry and mission is to share the message that all children have talents/Superpowers and want to be valued, accepted, included.

From personal experience, raising her oldest son who happens to have Down syndrome- “We felt the painful blows of name calling and exclusion”. “We grew through the empowering support of authentic friendship and inclusion”. Ms. Wincent’s family of five embraces diversity through international adoption as well, adopting two children from China.

After supporting other families through international adoption groups, school parent groups, developing inclusive programs/clubs, providing therapy to children with developmental and learning differences and running a private therapy practice, Ms. Wincent felt that there weren’t enough tools in the classrooms, libraries and neighbor’s homes to help children view each other as unique- having their own Superpowers. This little book, “What are your Superpowers?” is the result of that journey.

Ms. Wincent is grateful to her Creator for the lessons and blessings in her life. The author’s other passions include traveling, visiting art museums and toy stores around the globe, planting flowers, sailing with her husband and laughing at the antics of the family’s papillion, Piper.

Follow Marget Wincent, OTR

Illustrators Bio:

Charity Russell illustrator of Children's Book on Inclusion - What are your Superpowers?

Charity Russell lives in Bristol, England, with her husband and two children. She has a master’s degree in illustration and design from the University of Sunderland. She loves all things bookish and receiving handwritten letters in the post.

Link: www.charityrussell.com

Buy What are your Superpowers? by Marget Wincent, OTR  Amazon.com  Amazon.ca

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.
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