The Curriculum Centre is currently hosting the 2017 IBBY Selection of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities. Our previous blog posts have taken a look at books from categories 1 and 2. So let’s take a look at books in the third and final category.
Category 3 : Portrayals of Disability
This is the largest category of the exhibition, consisting of 25 books. There are picture books, fiction stories and non-fiction, all of which contain characters with disabilities.
Nevidimyj Slon (The Invisible Elephant) by Anna Anisimova & Diana Lapshina
This is a picture book from Russia, which focuses on the life of a young girl. It is very clear that the girl has a great imagination and a great sense of wonder at the world. Towards the end of the story, the reader discovers that the girl is blind. Other characters in the story do not focus on this, and the author is suggesting that the reader shouldn’t either.
Pojken Och Havet (The Boy and the Ocean) by Sofia Hedman & Emelie Gårdeler
This is another picture book story where the main protagonist is a child who is blind. The boy’s father uses taste and touch sensations to give his son an understanding of what the word “ocean” means. The child’s curiosity about the world can be compared to that portrayed by the young girl in the previous picture book story. This book was published in Sweden.
Wireul Bwayo!(Look Up!) by Jin Ho Jung
The main character in this picture book story from Korea is a young girl called Suji, who has lost the use of her legs. She spends most of her time in a wheelchair on the balcony of her home, watching the world go by. The author uses striking black and white illustrations to depict the world from her point of view, highlighting the distance between her world and the world on the street below. However, a young boy on the street notices Suji and starts a conversation with her. The story ends with splashes of colour being added to the illustrations, indicating a brighter road ahead for Suji.
Şușu, Can Ve Dörtteker by Yildiray Karakiya
This picture book from Turkey depicts a young character called Şușu creating chaos as she whizzes around the park in her tricycle. On her journey, Şușu notices another boy also creating chaos with his set of wheels, which she calls a “fourcycle”. The young boy is in a wheelchair and both children end up becoming great friends. The end of the story contains a note which emphasizes that individuals with disabilities should not be pitied or singled out for their differences and that it is important for children to treat them just as they would anyone else. This is an important theme that runs through many of the books in the touring exhibition.
There are also a number of fiction stories that contain characters with disabilities. I am sure you are all familiar with One, a wonderful story by Sarah Crossan about conjoined twins who are connected at the waist. There is a reading guide that teachers could use for this story here.
Dépourvu by Victoria Grondin
The author of this fiction story has created a very interesting world where everyone has Autism Spectrum Disorder and people wear 5 red bracelets to show that they are “normal”. Everyone that is, except Guillaume. He does not have the disorder and is deemed to be “different”. He has to wear 5 green bracelets to signify this. This story was published in Canada and is written in French.
Mamma Kilkk! (My Crazy Mum) by Gunnar Helgason
This story also looks at what is perceived as normal and what is perceived as different. The main character is 12 year old Stella, who wants nothing more than to fit in. She thinks her mother is slightly mad and always getting in her way. The author eventually reveals to the reader that Stella uses a wheelchair and by the end of the story we see her learning to appreciate the people around her a bit more. This book was published in Iceland and Icelandic is the language used.
Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
From New York, we have a story about a young girl called Ally who has dyslexia. Her teacher has not realised this and is giving her a hard time. However, when a substitute teacher arrives to teach her class things change. The substitute teacher helps Ally and her classmates understand what dyslexia is. This story consists of short chapters and is written on dyslexia friendly pages with generous margins.
There are a number of non-fiction books in this category also.
Emmanual’s Dream : The True Story Of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson
This book tells the incredible real-life story of Emmanuel, a young boy from Ghana, who was born with a deformed leg. He never saw himself as somebody who was “unable” and so he set himself the challenge of riding a bicycle across Ghana, which he successfully completed.
Stories By Us And About Us by Step Together Association
This book contains 12 stories which were the result of a creative expression workshop run by an educator working in special education in Lebanon. Students with learning disabilities shared their concerns, experiences and aspirations, as they narrated their stories to the authors Fatima and Samar. The book was produced using dyslexia friendly paper.
With this category containing so many interesting books, this post just gives a small taste of what is on display at the Curriculum Centre. It would be well worth spending some time coming in and recording titles of books that you feel would inspire your students in either primary or secondary schools. But don’t delay – the exhibition is only on display until Friday (14th Dec) before it heads north to Scotland.