Our Beginning

In our book, Literacy Beyond Picture Books, reasons for wanting to write a book about teaching literacy skills are explained in the Introduction section. It is discussed that we felt the need for improvement in our curriculum, we were getting suggestions from parents to make our classrooms more age-appropriate, and the mandates from No Child Left Behind made us realize that we needed to modify and enhance the way we taught. Two of us had recent Master’s Degrees from Western Carolina University, and the professors there taught us about expanding our horizons and expectations for our students.

At the very beginning, Dotty and Martha got together to discuss age-appropriate literature. Dotty was a Special Education teacher in a Middle School and Martha was the Speech Pathologist. They got together with the librarian at the middle school to find middle school literature that had a movie to go along with it. After they found some age-appropriate literature that could be modified for students with moderate to severe disabilities, they asked Jill to join them. Dotty and Jill began team teaching while Martha helped with augmentative communication support and vocabulary words and games made with Boardmaker.

Word about what we were doing quickly spread and Dotty and Jill were asked to present their ideas to the Council on Exceptional Children’s Conference in Greensboro, NC in 2004. Martha and the Occupational Therapist at the time, Julie, helped with the technical aspects of the program.

The program, titled “Beyond Brown Bear, Brown Bear” was well received. There were over 200 participants and the reviews were very favorable. We got notes from people saying, “You should write a book!” We were grateful and excited that so many people had found the information we gave beneficial.

After they had settled down from the conference, Dotty and Jill were in the hall one day. Jill said, “Dotty, I have been thinking, and I think we should write a book about what we are doing.” She said, “I have been thinking about the same thing, and I think we should do it!” We talked with Martha and she was willing to give it a try.

We began by expanding our outline of our conference presentation, with each person taking certain sections. We finished up the summer of 2005 and began contacting publishers. Carol Collins at Corwin Press contacted us and said they may be interested in our book. To say we were excited is an understatement! We knew that Corwin Press had an excellent reputation in the field of Special Education, so we felt we were in good hands.

The first draft went to a team of reviewers. We were thrilled to find that the reviewers felt the book was worth publication. We began the process of editing and re-editing. It was more labor intensive than we thought was possible, but we are so happy with the final result. The book is beautiful and we feel it turned out very user-friendly.

We hope you enjoy it and use it with your students. Let us know what areas are most helpful and ideas you have for themes!

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