learning Author finds global audience for book on special ed
GREENWICH — When she first read the cover of her book’s newest edition, Ann Core Greenberg had to trust her publisher — because the title is in Chinese.
“It’s very peculiar not to be able to read my own book,” Greenberg said.
Her book, “How To Keep Your Child Out Of Special Education,” broke into the Chinese market this summer with 8,000 copies. In it, the Greenwich writer gives strategies to parents for helping children who are beginning to struggle in class to succeed academically without turning to special education services.
The author, a school psychologist in Rockland County, N.Y., first published the book eight years ago — but it is now getting international attention.
“It’s timely and timeless because there’s no dearth of children who are struggling academically,” Greenberg said. “I think we will always have children who have some kind of learning problem.”
A Chinese publisher first encountered the book, published by independent Panoma Press, at book fair in Beijing and decided to invest in a translation of it, said her book coach and publisher, Mindy Gibbins-Klein.
Agents facilitated the advertising, publishing and launch, and on the American side of the Chinese firewall, all the author and her publisher could do was trust them, Gibbins-Kleins aid.
“Having the Chinese edition is big news,” Gibbins-Klein said. “It was a big print run, it’s a big market, much bigger than the U.S. or the U.K. It gave us a second wind.”
Greenberg has sold about 2,000 copies in English, Gibbins-Klein said.
Making the shelves in China means other countries and other translations will soon follow, said the book coach, who is a Greenwich High School graduate.
She held up the Chinese copy, featuring a happy cartoon family of four on a bright pink background.
“I’m going to be using this one to say, ‘You’re not the first, get behind it,’” Gibbins-Klein said. “There’s a market for this in every country in the world.”
That is because Greenberg markets her book to parents of elementary school students who are beginning to struggle academically and need ideas for getting their children back on track.
Greenberg said her tips translate because they encourage parents to make changes in the home and rely on the community — despite how services differ from state to state, and now, country to country.
Special education, while valuable for the children who need them, are expensive for the state and the taxpayer, she said. Depending on the state, those resources can be limited.
“You really want to focus your efforts where they’re really needed,” she said. “Even before a child is eligible, the school is supposed to support them in various ways that are not special education.”
She instructs parents to provide their children with structure, including a designated homework time and place, and reminds parents kids have to learn how to study if they are to become successful test takers.
Greenberg also devotes part of her book to counseling parents of children who struggle academically. For example, she reminds parents to suppress their frustration around their children.
“There are parents who blame themselves, blame their spouse, blame the child, blame the teacher,” she said. “They’re upset, and the blame is going in different directions.”
Those emotions stem from a fading stigma that still lingers around special education, according to Greenberg.
“Parents say they wish they could get help, but they don’t want their children labeled,” she said. “The stigma is still there, while not as bad.”
When she began practicing, recommending special education for a student would upset parents.
Recently, she said she has also seen parents vie for special education services because they are free and on school grounds.
“The pendulum over the years seems to have swung from one extreme to the other in a number of ways,” she said. “Neither extreme is right. We need to be in the middle. Children who need services should get them, and children who don’t should be helped in other ways.”