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Have you heard of the book Aiden McGee Gets a Case of the Actuallys by Aaron McGinley? I’ve been wanting to read it for months and finally ordered a copy this week. I’m so glad I did. It does a great job of showing why some bright, but very literal, children don’t realize they’re offending other kids – and, sometimes, even adults.
Aiden, the book’s main character, is nice at heart, but many of the people he interacts with don’t realize that because he constantly splits hairs.
I can relate to this because I’m currently trying to curb my seven-year-old daughter of doing so – with me. (I swear, she’s a miniature attorney sometimes.) Like Aiden, she isn’t trying to be rude, she just likes to be precise.
What I love about this book
Aiden McGee Gets a Case of the Actuallys is a great way to show how constantly correcting people can come across to others.
The illustrations of the supporting characters are spot on, too. You can use them to discuss non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language.
Word choice matters
In first grade, my son had a case of the obviouslys. (er, obviouslies)
I’d been so worried about the challenges his class clown antics were creating that I didn’t notice it at first. Then, during a beach trip the following summer, my friend’s husband pointed it out. (Dan is a nice guy, but very analytical and literal himself, so he thought my son’s frequent use of “obviously” was hilarious.)
Although I agreed it was amusing to hear a six-year-old use that term, I realized that if my son was saying “obviously” to kids as well (and he probably was), it could be misconstrued as condescending – even though he truly didn’t mean it that way. Things were, well, obvious to him and he assumed they were to everyone else, too.
One evening in fourth grade, I realized I needed to explain to my son that some kids have to study for tests.* He was shocked. He truly thought “studying” meant simply completing homework assignments. At first, this surprised me. After further thought, though, I realized he’s never known anything different. In fact, until third grade, he wasn’t even sure why kids treated him so differently.
* Lack of study habits are a huge reason why many bright kids’ grades start to plummet in middle school or high school (more at end of this story)
Blending point of view and SEL
There’s a growing repository of reading and English language arts resources that help teachers guide students on how to identify and compare points of view (perspective). In addition, educators and counselors are starting to incorporate social-emotional learning (SEL) into their teachings – which is awesome because these skills are critical for success in adulthood. What I didn’t realize when I bought Aiden McGee Gets a Case of the Actuallys (but love) is that it’s a wonderful tool for touching on both of these areas!
A great story for everyone
Teachers, counselors and librarians, I hope you’ll add Aiden McGee Gets a Case of the Actuallys to your book collection. Not only is the story helpful for kids like Aiden, it can help their peers – and even adults – understand these kids’ point of view which, in so many cases, has no ill intent behind it.
In addition, there’s a good lesson at the end about how we shouldn’t expect perfection overnight. Building these skills can take time.
And for any “kite kid” parents who may read this article, you should grab a copy, too. The author is a former kite kid, who at one point, faced this same learning opportunity. Therefore, he knows firsthand why it’s important. 🙂 He also has dysgraphia.
* Because of the way their brains are wired, most kite kids don’t learn the executive-function skills associated with good study habits in elementary school. Then, when they reach middle school or high school, many of them suddenly feel stressed out, and like failures, who are no longer living up to their “potential” . Too often, this also leads to adults telling them they’re lazy or aren’t trying hard enough. It also can lead to clinical depression and anxiety disorders.