The story of Dr Temple Grandin.
I’ve decided to put this review up today because it is the International Day for Autism Awareness. Dr Temple Grandin is a PhD in animal science, an animal activist and a vocal autism awareness campaigner. She is an incredible woman and she is also autistic.
“The girl who thought in pictures” is a book about Grandin’s life that is pitched at kids aged between 4 and 8-years old. It is written in very easy to follow rhyme and follows the life of Dr Grandin from birth through to becoming a successful inventor, lecturer and public speaker.
This book talks about some of the ways in which Temple Grandin was different as a child. It highlights her struggles at school where she didn’t fit in and was bullied. The book also takes children through an experience that changed the course of her life, which was simply spending time out of the city on a farm with family members. It was here that she found her real comfort zone among the animals.
We then follow Temple’s high school years and journey to college and beyond. These years are not without struggles but are greatly improved by a few people who see her unique talents and help her to turn these to her advantage.
At university Dr Grandin devised a mechanism for moving cattle from place to place in a way that significantly reduced their stress and also the injuries that they received in such moves. At the time a lot of farmers were resistant to the idea that they needed to improve conditions for animals, but despite having difficulty with large crowds and being a female in a very male dominated industry, Dr Grandin toured America and worked with farmers and associations to transform the industry into one that was more humane.
This is a story that every child should read or have read to them but it is also one that thoughtful adults can benefit from too. Kids who fit in and don’t feel different can learn how it feels when you are different. Those who feel on the outer at school or anywhere else will take hope and encouragement that they just need to find their passion and that they too can be great. Adults can see through this very simply told story the difference that we can make in the life of a young person just by taking the time to look at them, see their particular strength and help them to make the most of it.
The strength of this book lies in the ability of the author Julia Finley Mosca to tell Dr Grandin’s story in a way that gives a strong sense of her life, struggles and triumphs without wasting a single word. It means that the story is short enough to hold the attention of younger readers.
The illustrations by Daniel Rieley are also bold and engaging so that younger children are likely to ask questions about what is happening in the story and this will provide an opening for further discussion and explanation.
Although, there are parts of the story that I felt could have been presented in more engaging prose, I still highly recommend “The girl who thought in pictures” for its message and the ease with which you will be able to share the very important topic of autism and difference with your kids!