I wrote my first inclusive title, ‘A Day at the Zoo’ 14 years ago. Feedback is excellent, everyone loves the concept and 8,000 copies of the first editions have been sold.
Why is it still unusual to see disabled characters in children’s books? Has anything changed?
When we walk down the street we regularly see people with disabilities. We’re all different and have different abilities, this should be reflected in children’s stories
Say ‘Hello’ to Hattie and Nisha.
The girls are good friends and enjoy ‘A Day at the Farm’ with their mummies. Nisha wears leg braces and uses walking aids. Her disability is entirely incidental and not mentioned in the text. Seeing these positive images every day teaches children we value everyone equally, with respect and tolerance for the differences we have.
How many children’s books do you have? How many feature a character with a disability?
There have been some changes in the last 14 years. It’s good to see a few more disabled characters in books, presenters on television, actors in films etc. but they are still very few and far between. Disability is part of life and we all need to reflect that in the children’s learning resources that we choose.
Every 4 years we all get carried along with the excitement of the Olympics and Paralympics with the next events due in 2020. Each time I think this will really boost inclusion and increase the pace of change. It’s so disappointing to see it all fade away over the next few months.
The Paralympic Games provide a world-wide stage for positive and inspirational people. We share this event with children and share universal support and admiration for the competitors. The lack of action, regarding inclusion, following these high-profile events surprises me.
What happened to all that enthusiasm?
A lot of people say that they just hadn’t thought about why children’s books don’t feature disabled characters. I certainly hadn’t until it was pointed out to me. I regularly visit Primary Schools to talk about being an author, children love the characters and accept the differences easily. Sometimes they don’t even notice the disabilities, which is great! I love helping childcare professionals and teachers to be more inclusive.
Unfortunately, there has been little change in the last decade, but I still totally believe in ‘Hattie and friends’ and the need to be inclusive so my second editions have just been printed. They have an updated design, separating the text from the pictures, making them even more inclusive.
Here’s a ‘sneak peek’ at Hattie and Lucy arriving at the Seaside with their daddies. Lucy is blind. I have included lots of sensory features in this story because that would be important to Lucy; the feel of the sand, the taste of the chips and the sounds on the journey. The girls have great fun during, ‘A Day at the Seaside’, their abilities are not important.
If you’d like to update your bookshelf PACEY members can order a set of 4 books for ONLY £20 during March (£24 full price)
Just e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how many sets you would like to order and where to send them. I will send the books with an invoice (to be paid within 30 days please)
There are more details about the books on my website: www.hattieandfriends.co.uk
It’s 2019 – Let’s Get Inclusive!