Words Bookstore Welcomes Those with Special Needs
Kim and I are fond of pretty much every independent bookstore (unless the people who work there are mean to us, in which case you simply won’t ever see a review on this blog) but every once in a while a bookstore comes along that has a special slant that’s particularly meaningful to one or both of us. For example, there’s the bookstore that serves wine–talk about being tailormade for Kim . . . (hee, hee).
And if you wanted a bookstore to mean something special to me, you’d make it geared for families dealing with special needs. You’d ensure that their children always felt welcome there by providing your staff with sensitivity training and that the parents would be able to find both the books they want to read for enjoyment and the ones they need to read for information about their children’s disabilities. My dream store would also make a point of hiring and training adults with special needs. It would also be warm, cozy, and inviting.
It would, in short, be exactly like Words Bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey. Except maybe it would be in Southern California so I could actually go and see it with my own eyes.
Oh, well, you can’t have everything, and the very good news is that Words Bookstore is flourishing in Maplewood and that the community there has a resource unlike any other. Jonah Zimiles, who, with his wife Ellen, owns the store, is pretty new to the bookstore business, having been a lawyer, a business school student, and a stay-at-home dad to his son with autism over the last couple of decades. But once he and Ellen decided to buy a bookstore, they knew exactly the direction they wanted to take it in.
I’ll let the Zimiles describe their goal for the store in their own words (taken from the store’s website): “Words’ mission is to serve Maplewood and surrounding communities by offering a warm, intellectual atmosphere where men, women and children of all races, religions, ages, sexual orientation, political beliefs and abilities will be welcomed and feel comfortable. In particular, we are dedicated to the families in Maplewood that have a member with a developmental disability, and strive to help Maplewood become a model community of inclusion through our treatment of disabled customers and employees, especially those with autism. ”
Not only does the store go out of its way to make families struggling with a disability comfortable and welcome, but the Zimiles also offers vocational training and employment for local residents who are developmentally disabled. This is a store with a heart as big as its extra-wide aisles.
Because they stock their special needs section with the best resources they can find, and to wrap up the end of National Autism Awareness Month with one last tribute, and since the Zimiles and I both have kids on the spectrum, I asked them to send us a list of autism books they keep on the shelves in their store. And here it is.
(This is very much their list, by the way. Mine would be different. For one thing, Lynn’s and my books would of course be on it because shameless self-promotion is my middle name. For another, I’d skip anything that suggests there’s a tie between vaccinations and autism because there’s no scientific evidence supporting that theory and we’ve wasted too much time and attention on it already.)
Here is the Zimiles’ list of popular and/or recommended books about autism:
Methods for Remediating Autism:
Behavioral Intervention For Young Children With Autism
By: Catherine Maurice, Gina Green, and Stephen C. Luce
Long-viewed as the main source of information about Applied Behavior Analysis or “ABA,” the primary evidence-based method used to assist individuals with autism.
The Child With Special Needs
By: Stanley I. Greenspan and Serena Wieder
The primary book about floortime, a developmental model that is the second most popular treatment method used to remediate autism.
The RDI Book
By: Steven E. Gutstein
Hot off the presses, Dr. Gutstein’s techniques combine the rigor of ABA with the developmental approach of floortime
The Miller Method
By: Arnold Miller with Kristina Chretien
Another method used to combat autism, the Dr. Miller takes advantage of increased focus when people are at elevated heights to improve body awareness and learning.
Evidence of Harm
By: David Kirby
Explores the theory that mercury in vaccines may cause autism.
Thinking Goes to School
By: Hans G. Furth and Harry Wachs
Combines a fascinating exogesis on the learning process and practical exercises to improve visual/spatial thinking
The Out-of-Sync Child
By: Carol Stock Kranowitz
Explains sensory processing disorders and suggests activities to ameliorate these problems
My Social Stories Book
By: Carol Gray and Abbie Leigh White
Uses the technique of “social stories” to enable children to prepare and practice for situations that could be anxiety-prodcuing or otherwise difficultfor them to handle.
You’re Going to Love this Kid
By: Paula Kluth
An excellent guide as to how to include children with autism in a mainstream classroom.
No More Meltdowns
By: Jed Baker
Dr. Baker provides tools to cope with out-of-control behavior.
Autism and Its Medical Management
By: Michael G. Chez
A leading doctor in the field explains medical aspects of autism and what medications are available to treat its symptoms.
Teaching Conversation to Children With Autism
By: Lynn E. McClannahan and Patricia J. Krantz
Authored by the two former heads of one of the nation’s finest schools for children with autism, this is a hand-on guide as to how to use ABA to educate students with autism.
The Social Skills Picture Book
By: Jed Baker
Provides insight into how to teach social skills to children with autism through the use of photographs and explanations of the “right” and “wrong” way to approach situations.
By: Barry Neil Kaufman
Yet another method, this is Son-Rise, developed by parents who appear to have successfully remediated their son’s autism.
Let Me Hear Your Voice
By: Catherine Maurice
Probably the classic autism book, this is a mother’s story of how Dr. Bridget Taylor and ABA enabled her child to make substantial progress.
By: Jenny McCarthy
Celebrity mother of a child with autism shares “recovery” stories from across the nation
The Horse Boy
By: Rupert Isaacson
A father’s world-wide journey to find magic healing of his son’s autism
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon
Fictional account of a “detective” who is a teenager with autism.
Children’s Books About Autism
By: Laurie Lears
An older sister learns to understand and appreciate her brother with autism.
Leo the Late Bloomer
By: Robert Krauss
A mother’s faith in the abilities of a child who develops more slowly than his typical peers.
Back to me, Claire.
Whether you have a family member with special needs or just love books, Words looks like a wonderful place to relax, browse, and buy. I admire their commitment to helping others and wish I could visit it in person. Maybe someday I’ll find myself in Maplewood, NJ with an hour to waste. Until then, I hope some of you visit it for me. And say hi to the Zimiles family.
179 Maplewood Avenue
Maplewood, New Jersey 07040
Tel: 973 763 9500