I’m back after my Covid Vaccine, but that’s to be written about in another blog. I am feeling very grateful though that I received the vaccine.
Today is World Book Day and for as long I can remember I have loved books. I always enjoyed English at school and it was probably one of my favourite subjects. No wonder I opted for an English based Degree in Media Studies.
Do you remember in primary school when you used to get a new book? There was one occasion I remember trying to pick a book and putting it back and choosing from another basket. The teacher told me I had to chose a book which went alongside my reading level. This irritated me. I told them what kind of books I was reading at home and didn’t understand why I had to chose from the book box with my reading level. Eventually we came to a decision. If I read the books and brought them back quickly then I could move up the levels quicker. I did this and got to read harder books and proved a point which we all knew I could do, but for the sake of the system I had to have it noted down.
Reflecting on this and the fact that it is World Book Day I have been wondering how many books was I aware of when I was younger which featured Disabled people? What is that representation like now?
Looking back I do not really remember that many books, especially from when I was younger which featured Disabled characters. Thinking about this I have just asked my Mum if there was a character in the Biff and Chip books who was a wheelchair user. She says there was.
For World Book Day I have done a bit of looking around and found that there are some great books available which represent Disabled Children. A great article I found was in the HuffPost about a variety of books which feature Disabled people as the main characters. In the article there are a number of different representations, the best part is that in some of the books the Disability isn’t even the main plot line. Which is fantastic. After reading it I sent the article to a friend who teaches in a primary school and they loved it.
Part of the problem is not just having books about Disabled people, but also having them be written by Disabled people as well. So you know that as a Disabled child ‘hey this book has someone in it like me’ then they can be told the Author is like them too. It is about allowing people to see themselves in stories and know that the person behind the story is able to understand how they feel.
Whilst looking at wether representation is better today than it was when I was in school I came across Pablo and the Noisy Party. There is a TV series linked with the book which is brilliant because as we all know everyone learns differently. Written on the books Trust Website is ‘This empowering series competently reflects neurodiversity and like the TV series, has been developed by writers who are themselves on the Autistic spectrum, and is based on real-life experiences.’ When I saw this quote on Books Trust it made me smile to know that the comment I made in the previous paragraph is trying to be addressed. Children need to not only see themselves in books, but know those writing them are like them too.
The other part of the problem is having access to these books for all children. It can not just be the case that we talk about them only to parents of Disabled children. They need to be in book boxes in every school. Otherwise how does it just become the norm that the woman in the street is using her white stick to feel the floor beneath her feet and get around safely? Or that the man wears headphones in the supermarket and hums quietly as he puts his items into his basket because he could be Autistic?
These questions need to be addressed and by writing this blog have made you a bit more aware that these books are out there. You just need to look. But them being out there is not enough. They need to be in classrooms and libraries and they need to be seen as the norm. Hopefully by writing this and also in sharing the book list with my friend I have done something to help make a difference.
Here are the links below to some of the things I discovered whilst doing this blog.
Until next time,
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Pablo and the Noisy Party https://www.booktrust.org.uk/book/p/pablo-and-the-noisy-party/
Fun in the Sun https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/storybooks-featuring-disabled-children/
Disability Horizons- https://disabilityhorizons.com/2019/09/8-books-with-a-disabled-character-as-the-lead-or-focus-of-the-story/
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