The Rights of Autistic Children Through the Eyes of Natalie in Al Capone Does My Shirts

Pamela Shembo, 5th Grade, E.E. Waddell Language Academy

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


In this unit, the students analyze Gennifer Choldenko’s book Al Capone Does My Shirts through 30 reading and writing tasks. This analysis leads them to discover the theme at the heart of the book: Autism Spectrum Disorder. It also leads them to discover three foundational documents in human rights history: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Throughout the unit, the students are highly engaged as they read, write, and reflect on the novel and participate in weekly discussions around topics such as responsibility, rights, freedoms, stereotypes, and language about people with disabilities. In writing this curriculum unit, my hope is to contribute to Human Rights education and to help our students become more knowledgeable about Autism Spectrum Disorder, a disability on the rise in the United States, and therefore improve attitudes toward people with Autism.