Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Seized a Moment

A good friend and fellow author, Gregory G. Allen, recently published his book "Chicken Boy: The Amazing Adventures of a Super Hero With Autism" which is based on his own godson who is autistic. During a recent discussion with my advanced group of sixth graders a question about autism came up. Coincidentally, we were finishing our unit on Response to Literature. Like any good teacher, I seized the teachable moment. I read the book and asked them to simply respond. I also asked them to rate the book from one to five stars, though it appears some forgot (or didn't hear me.) Their comments and ratings appear below.

“This story to me shows a great way to explain autism… I like it.” 5 stars

“I feel bad for Gabe. I feel this way because he can’t talk to a lot of people.  So I’m guessing that he doesn’t have a lot of friends since some children might be scared of him.” 3 stars

“I thought that this book was REALLY cool because I saw the view of a person who has it.”

“This story can happen to anybody and it’s not something to laugh at so it’s a good book to show that people with autism are the same as everyone. So I like this book.” 4 stars

“I think this book is trying to say the even if you have some type of illness you are still the same.”

“Now I understand that the kids that have the sickness are still normal but in a different way. Everyone is normal in a different way.” 5 stars

“I really enjoyed the story. I now understand autism. They are not weird. I give the story a 4.5 because it explains to the reader what autism is. Very good book.” 4.5 stars

“The story is good because it teaches young readers about autism.”

“I thought the book was very funny and interesting. The book was also very warm hearted. This deserved to be published.” 5 stars

“I like this story because it’s showing me that having autism is nothing different than anyone else. We are all the same.” 5 stars

“This is a nice book about autism. Because it tells us how autism is through the eyes of someone with autism such as “Chicken Boy.” Autism is when someone loves inside of their own brain. I hope that all people with autism find a cure and live happily.” 4 stars

“To me it makes me feel like now I know what to do when I see a child with autism. Or a grownup.” 3 stars

“It’s a really nice book. It really helped me see what autism is in a very nice way and funny as well.”
“This book depressed me as well as made me laugh. ‘Chicken Boy’ is autism in the eyes and thinking of an autistic boy. The boy has a superhero “Chicken Boy”. It also makes me understand now autistic children.” 5 stars

“I didn’t really enjoy the book. I thought the book talked more about autism not about a boy with autism.” 2 stars

“I liked the story because when I was small I used to be in my own world.” 5 stars

“This story talks about a boy who likes chickens. He also has autism. He is also living his life to the fullest because he can’t cure the condition. The story is good because it teaches young readers about autism. The character is actually a real person with autism.” 4 stars

“I think the book is cool because he is being unique like Chicken Boy. He doesn’t really care about what other people think.” 4 stars

“The story shows how people with autism live day to day.  Also from their point of view. How they feel.” 3 stars

“I think that the boy is sort of being bullied because people judge him by how he looks and they don’t get to know him.” 4 stars

“Chicken Boy is a fascinating story. I did not know they felt like that.” 5 stars

“This story makes me feel glad to not have autism but sad for all the people who do.” 4 stars

“I am not like him, but I would like to be his friend because he has a very different personality than others. I feel that he is having a pretty great life with autism because he must really have a lot of friends that might think he’s weird and all that but can be really great.” 5 stars

“I really like this book because my cousin has autism. I hope you write more books like ‘Chicken Boy’.” 5 stars

I agree with the last reviewer, Greg. I hope you write more books like "Chicken Boy."

"Chicken Boy: The Amazing Adventures of a Super Hero With Autism" is currently available from and other retailers.Click here to purchase from


  1. What wonderful reviews from your class, Jeff! Please tell them a HUGE THANK YOU from me. And to you: I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read and discuss the book with your class. What a great guy! Thank you.

    1. Greg,
      It was a pleasure to share your book with my students. I will definitely pass on your message. I will also share it with the other periods, perhaps later in the year. I will let you know what their response is.

  2. What you did was what teaching is all about. I applaud you for doing it and giving your students an opportunity to understand someone else point of view. And thanks to your friend for writing a book that allowed you to to that. The reviews were great and authentic for sixth graders. What you taught them won't be on a standardized test, but it will be something they can use in life. Bravo!

    1. Kim,

      Thank you. I just wish we had more time as teachers to do things exactly like this. But, as you know, all the testing, testing, testing, takes all the time away!

      Thank you for your comment!

  3. Wonderful lesson/book, Jeff! I have a family member who has a disability /mental illness and I really don't think we talk enough about stuff like this in the classroom. Bravo to you..great reviews from the students!

    1. Guen,

      Thank you! I wish we had time to do more like this, I have felt so rushed this year. Please let me know if you want to borrow the book.


  4. Inspiring post, Jeff! Thanks for sharing. I do agree with G. Spiller's comment. We tend to avoid talking about mental illnesses and conditions. And we should not, because the more we talk about these subjects, the better the chance for the rest of the world to accept these illnesses and open up to talking about them.

    Nowadays too many mental illnesses/conditions are labeled "taboo." It does not help. I believe in the power of talking about these sorts of taboos. It can be a mind-opening experience. In my experience writing about other 'taboo/unconventional' topics, people usually want to talk about these topics, they may be hesitant, though. That's where people like you or Greg G. Allen step up to the plate and initiate these sorts of vital conversations we should have much more often.

    Thanks again for your post!

    1. Alina,

      Thank you for reading and for your comment. I agree, there are far too many taboo subjects around we are afraid to talk about. And that only adds to the stigma. Attitudes can only change with discussion and time. I can remember when people thought cancer and HIV/AIDS were all contagious diseases spreadable simply by touching the person. Time has dispelled that myth, among learned people at least.

      Thank you again for your comment!

  5. Jeff, I think you are the super-hero of teaching children by making them analyze and express themselves. You took the time to go outside the lines of curriculum and taught them one of their most valuable lessons. Now, what name shall my super-hero go by?

    1. Nancy, Thank you for your comment. I have always tried to push my students to express themselves, but with English Language Learners it is not always easy. I just think it is as my job as a teacher.

      As for my super-hero name, I'll let you create it. ;) Thank you.