Just Because: Not Just A Tale of Two Siblings
As February is Jewish Disability, Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month (JDAIM,) it is being highlighted at JCC Chicago ‘Z’ Frank Apachi Early Childhood in a special way. Educators, Robin Bright and Juliet Ziak, designed a Book of the Month Club for their four-year-old classes as part of JCC Chicago’s Small Grants Program. This specific award allowed children to share specially selected books at home with parents, siblings and other extended family members that would focus on specific values which fits in perfectly with the JDAIM mission.
This month, the book, Just Because, written and illustrated by Rebecca Elliott, was chosen as our book of the month. It is a lovely story of two siblings and their bond with one another. As the story unfolds, we begin to see that the older sibling has differing abilities and uses a wheelchair. While she is not able to do everything the younger sibling does, the author points out all of the great things that she can do and how much the younger sibling loves her. This touching story encapsulates the meaning of the Sheva lens of D’rash. With children’s natural spirit of inquiry, our hope is that this book provides the opportunity to learn that even though we are all different, every person has great value and beauty, both inside and out. Amusing and often touching, this story encompasses the idea of differing abilities in a charming celebration of sibling friendship which children can easily relate to.
We know unequivocally that building early literacy skills is critically important as children learn about the world around them, begin to develop critical thinking skills, play with language, learn acceptance and so much more. Giving children the added chance to share a story at home with their families opens up important conversations and gives them the opportunity to ask questions and share their own interpretation of the story.
As educators, we also believe that we can build strong partnerships by focusing on Jewish values such as these and creating a shared vision with our families. Happy reading!
Written By: Leanne Nathan, Director, JCC Chicago ‘Z’ Frank Apachi Early Childhood