About Success StoriesTM
Success Stories are fun, printable children’s books with personalized text and illustrations focusing on character development by addressing emotions, social skills, safety, and communication skills. See Full List and Purchase.
Why Use Books?
Stories have long been used for teaching morals and developing character. Although technological improvements have made videos, video games, and hand-held devices common delivery methods for teaching these skills, books are still a critical tool. Unlike other teaching materials, books clearly state acceptable behavior and explain why it is acceptable. They are self-paced which allows for questions about the content. Books lend themselves to social interactions through a discussion of the story, which enhances social skill development. Books can be personalized which allows parents and professionals to address specific behaviors or experiences. For example, in the Success Story, Feeling Frustrated, there is an area to add what frustrates the child and an appropriate reaction. Further, reading is a critical academic skill and fun books that engage children are a great way to promote a lifelong interest in literacy.
Why Change the Features?
Making the main character look like the child is supported by Social Learning Theory (condensed by Bandura, 1977) which discusses how individuals learn from watching the behaviors and subsequent consequences of those around them. The theory suggests similar characteristics such as age, gender, and overall appearance are factors in individuals modeling a behavior.1 This theory has been successfully applied to books for teaching young children how to monitor and implement strategies for actively managing their asthma2. The stories used images of young children successfully taking care of themselves to explain terminology and actions for managing asthma. Study results showed the use of books was more effective than using videos for instruction. The theory behind the customization of Success Stories is by creating stories where the main character looks like the child and the text in the story is about the child, he or she will have an easier time identifying with the characters and modeling appropriate behavior.
Success Stories are helpful in working on sequencing and transitioning skills. Often children benefit from visual reminders of what to do next. As adults, we use day planners and PDA’s to schedule our routines. Children also benefit from visual or written schedules. Many of the Success Stories can be used for this purpose. For example, if a child is having trouble transitioning from breakfast to brushing their teeth, an adult can refer to the “Getting Ready for School” story to show that brushing their teeth is the next activity in their morning routine. Showing the child in the story successfully brushing his or her teeth is a way to present the next step in a fun and meaningful way. The story pages can be arranged so the order of activities fits with the child’s routine.
In addition to the story’s main topic, there are many opportunities for learning other skills throughout each of the Success Stories. For example, children can learn colors through a discussion of the characters’ clothing. Discussions on the characters’ feelings, actions, and choices are a way to emphasize good decision making. To capture these learning opportunities a skills sheet is included with each story. These sheets allow parents and professionals to work on multiple skills in the social, communication, and academic areas to maximize the effectiveness of their time with the child.
For Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Theory of Mind is hypothesized as a reason for social skill deficits in individuals with autism spectrum disorders 3, 4, 5 The theory refers to an individual’s ability to relate to the emotions and ideas of others in order to infer what drives their actions in a given situation. The belief is that individuals with autism have a difficult time understanding others’ emotions and actions; therefore, it is difficult for them to learn simply by observation. Many professionals and parents have helped children with autism spectrum disorders learn about these difficult topics through books where the child is part of the story. The concept is that in a specific situation such as seeing someone upset, the child with autism may not understand why the peer is feeling this way. By explicitly stating the peer’s emotions, why he feels that way, what features indicate this is his feeling (e.g. mouth with corners pointing down, tears), and how the main character can make him feel better, the finer points of the social interaction are explained in detail. Success Stories provide parents and professionals an additional resource to work on these skills.
1 Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.