Storybooks have been a lifeline for Thomas Kelvin during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kelvin has special needs that cause him to be a slow learner. However, thanks to the children storybooks that his school regularly lent him, Kelvin was able to finish primary school. Widyawati, ST, a 6th grade teacher at SDN 005 Tana Tidung, Tana Tidung District, North Kalimantan, wrote about her experience through the channel (link).

Widyawati is known as a patient, kind and diligent teacher. In a long article titled Kelvin’s Helper Storybooks (2022), Ms. Widyawati describes the benefits of children’s storybooks. Children’s storybooks are not only effective for sparking interest in reading, but can also be a powerful learning tool for children with special needs. Take Thomas Kelvin, for example.

Widyawati wrote that Kelvin was born in Rian on 22 July 2008. He attended SDN 005 Tana Tidung, Kapuak Village, Muruk Rian Sub-district, Tana Tidung District, North Kalimantan Province. According to his family, Kelvin had a high fever and an accident when he was little. He hit his head hard. Since the fever, Kelvin’s abilities have decreased. He became slow to grasp information. It was hard to concentrate and difficult to communicate. If being asked continuously, he would panic and his hands would be sweaty. Kelvin’s parents admit that their son is a slow leaner.

Under such conditions, Kelvin faced many learning challenges. When he was in grade 2, Kelvin was only able to move up to the next grade after 2 years. Kelvin was unable to repeat the alphabets the teacher read out. This happened from grade 1 to grade 4.

At first, I tried to help Kelvin like any other student. I gave student activity sheets to Kelvin’s parents. I hoped that Kelvin’s parents could help him with it. It turned out that my expectations were wrong. Kelvin never once returned the sheets I gave. He never even worked on the sheet. I was starting to worry that Kelvin would fall further and further behind.

I slowly guided Kelvin to read the storybooks. We used picture storybooks with short texts. We did this activity repeatedly. If I did not visit Kelvin’s house, his parents did the reading with him. Even Kelvin’s younger brother, who is now in the fourth grade of primary school, helped Kelvin to read. Kelvin really enjoys reading storybooks.