A Song for Birdie

A Child's Journey with Autism

Children - Social Issues
36 Pages
Reviewed on 09/01/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

A Song for Birdie: A Child's Journey with Autism is a social issues story book for children written and illustrated by Cindy Shirley. Birdie Williams was in the second grade now, and her teacher, Mrs. Andrews, wanted to speak with her parents. Birdie wasn’t really interested in what Mrs. Andrews was talking about, but she took the note her teacher gave her and handed it to her mom when she picked her up from school. Birdie’s mom knew her daughter was upset; she watched as Birdie lowered her head, covered her ears with her hands and began to hum and to tap her foot. She and her husband discussed their daughter’s situation in school that night and attended the conference with Mrs. Andrews several days later. Birdie found lots of things to look at as the adults were speaking. She made a tally of the number of square tiles on the floor and had fun visualizing animal shapes and patterns. This was so much more interesting than what the grownups had to say. Mrs. Andrews suggested putting Birdie in the school’s special ed program, and her parents agreed. By the time Birdie got home, she had no interest at all in ever going back to school again, but then something wonderful happened.

Cindy Shirley’s social issues story book for children, A Song for Birdie: A Child's Journey with Autism, is a moving and insightful look at how a child on the autism spectrum sees her world. As I read this story, I also considered counting squares and visualizing fantastical creatures to be far more interesting than listening to the adults discussing her inability to pay attention and preference for doodling. Seeing Birdie’s instant rapport with the little bird that perches on the window the next morning is mesmerizing and magical. I loved seeing how that connection with another being seems to provide a link for Birdie with the world. Her bird and the new teacher, Miss Amy, go so far to help Birdie explore her skills and abilities and to interact with others. A Song for Birdie is a marvelous tool for parents, caregivers and educators of children on the spectrum. It’s also a useful way for children who have autistic peers to gain insights into their behavior, gifts and needs. A Song for Birdie: A Child's Journey with Autism is most highly recommended.

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

Birdie is a little girl with autism, but her parents don’t know that yet. When the word is first mentioned they’re afraid of it, but when Birdie’s teacher mentions sending her to a special class where she can get the help she needs, they’re open to the idea. Learning in a new environment is better for Birdie, but there are still challenges that make her day a little more difficult than the traditional student. With the help of her new teacher, Ms. Amy, her parents, and her new friend, she’s off to a brand new start in A Song for Birdie by Cindy Shirley.

This book is all about a little girl who has her own challenges in life. Any child will have difficulty in school, especially with staying focused, but for a little one with autism it can be even more difficult. This is a story about overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness for yourself. This is a great book for any child who is struggling because it’s going to help them understand what can happen for their future. There are plenty of ways that a child with autism can excel and this book is about one little girl with autism who has some great skills, even if she’s not as good at paying attention in class.

The pictures throughout the book really draw you into the story, letting you see Birdie going through her day and her experience with her brand new school. A Song for Birdie is a great way to introduce the idea of beautiful differences to any child.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Every child is special and has unique, special gifts to share. Sadly, not every child fits into the ‘norm’ of childhood development. This makes standardized education a challenge. A special needs child, whether he/she is autistic or has some other special needs, has a unique way of learning and working within the world around them. Little Bird, or Birdie as her parents and teacher call her, is autistic. She has a difficult time in a large, standardized classroom. But when placed in a smaller, special needs classroom, with an understanding, caring teacher, Birdie is allowed room to grow in her own way and at her own pace. Birdie’s special talent is drawing and singing. When a real little bird comes to visit, the two start singing together. This inspires an entire collection of drawings. The two develop a unique bond and sing together whether Birdie is at home or at school.

Music and art have a unique ability to reach a child with special needs. The colors, shapes and sounds are attractive, encouraging and very soothing. Cindy Shirley’s little early chapter book, A Song for Birdie: A Child’s Journey with Autism, addresses the compelling social issues of a family and an education system struggling to find the best way to help a child with autism. This is Birdie’s story, but it is also her family’s story and her teacher’s story. Told with both compassion and understanding and accompanied by beautiful, colorful illustrations, this is a good educational tool for helping young people, not only those with autism, but also those who may sit next to an autistic student in the classroom. Beautifully told.

Melinda Hills

Birdie Williams is a second grader, but not just any second grader. In A Song for Birdie: A Child’s Journey with Autism by Cindy Shirley, you learn that Birdie interacts differently with her environment and that doesn’t fit in well with a traditional classroom. Birdie’s mom and dad have known that their beautiful, loving daughter is different than many other children, and on the advice of the classroom teacher, choose to have Birdie attend school in a special needs class. This is just one of the things, though, that makes a positive impact on Birdie.

Not only does she receive support and kindness from her new classmates and teacher, she makes a very special friend – a small yellow canary who sings with Birdie and inspires her art work. Recognizing Birdie’s talent with art, the teacher is able to relate well to the child and encourage her to succeed. This makes Birdie very happy and her parents quite proud and relieved. Providing a bird house and feeder at home as well as on the school playground keeps Birdie’s friend safe and close and allows the other children to take part in Birdie’s happiness.

Dealing with autism is a challenge for every family and a warm hearted, straightforward book like A Song for Birdie: A Child’s Journey with Autism by Cindy Shirley can help make it a bit easier. Without preaching or sugar coating, this short story provides an optimistic look at enjoying the good things that arise while doing the best that you can. Well written and touching, this story will make you come away feeling a little more positive about having or dealing with a family member living with autism.

Mamta Madhavan

Birdie Williams is having a tough time in school. It is the beginning of grade two and her teacher, Mrs. Andrews, is unhappy with Birdie’s lack of motivation in class. She sends a note, asking Birdie’s parents to meet with her. A Song for Birdie: A Child’s Journey with Autism by Cindy Shirley tackles the topic of autism and sheds light on how parents of autistic children deal with them and how they can understand them better. The story is about how Birdie’s parents accept their daughter being different from others, how she gets support, help, and love from her teacher and classmates in school, and how they encourage her love for art and music. Birdie’s friendship with the yellow canary adds another layer to the story with the school and parents providing a bird house and feeder on the school playground and at home so that Birdie is happy in both places.

Autistic children go through a lot of struggles and difficulties in their daily lives and the author portrays this effectively through the story of Birdie. The author’s approach to the topic is warm and honest and she makes it optimistic and positive for everyone who is dealing with autistic children in their lives. The illustrations are bright and lively, and they bring the characters and scenes alive. The incredible emotional connection between Birdie and the little bird is palpable to readers. The story is heartwarming and well expressed, and is a good read for both children and adults alike. It is a story of love, acceptance, tolerance, and hope and is definitely a must-read.