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Making World Book Day Inclusive

calendarFebruary 20 2020

Emma Bara talks about why making world book day inclusive is so important and compiles a list to get you started!

Recently, I attended a meeting at my daughter’s school, which has a special unit for hearing impaired children. On the agenda was World Book Day and how it could be made more engaging than just having kids dress up in any old costume, which usually leads to a silly number of princesses and football kits walking into school……

The front cover of Rodney Meadow Hopper, the hare that didn't care. The cover shows a drawing of a brown hair with a rainbow behind him.

Making World Book Day Inclusive!

So, I suggested they consider encouraging people to choose inclusive books. By reading books (or watching TV programs) that include characters with a disability, who are neurodiverse or who have a medical condition or some other access need, children and adults learn what inclusion and good accessibility looks like and how it is done. Perhaps more importantly, children and adults with disabilities, who are neurodiverse or who have a medical condition or some other access need, see themselves represented in the mainstream, which can be so important for people’s sense of self-worth and mental health. So I was dismayed when the Assistant Head responded with, ‘Oh that’s a bit difficult, there aren’t that many books around‘!

Thank You Twitter Friends

So I went on twitter, put a shout out for recommendations and was gifted with a list of over 50 books in less than 24 hours! I have added a few and sorted the books out as best I can into categories and listed them for you below. Because I asked about books for younger children, most of the recommendations I received and books I found myself are for junior and primary school ages but there were a few books suggested for older readers.

This is a bit of a crusade of mine now. If you are choosing a book for your child for World Book Day, or you are a teacher in charge of getting everyone involved, this is your chance to make a real difference and make World Book Day a bit more meaningful than sparkly costumes or the latest football strip! The list below should get you started but do use the comments section below to add any more to the list!

Making world book day inclusive list

Mostly for younger readers:

Celebrating differences

  • The Department of Ability (action comic) – Dan White
  • Happy to be me by Emma Dodd
  • Mixed by Amee Chung
  • The Same but Different too by Karl Newson and Kate Hindley
  • Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival
  • Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph
  • The New Neighbours by Sarah McIntyre
  • Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett
  • This zoo is not for you by Ross Collins
  • Can I Join Your Club? By John Kelly & Steph Laberis
  • Amazing by Steve Anthony
  • Rocket Rosie by Elise Hogan
  • Errol’s Garden by Gillian Hibbs
  • Just Because by Rebecca Elliot
  • Sometimes by Rebecca Elliot
  • The Abilities in Me Save Christmas by Gemma Keir

Hidden illness

  • Rodney Meadow-Hopper, The Hare Who Didn’t Care by Gail Crampton 
  • Just Ask! By Sonia Sotomeyer

Achondroplasia

  • Strong and Mighty Max by Kristina Gray

Autism

  • Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer
  • The London eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
  • Isaac and his amazing Asperger Superpowers by Melanie Walsh
  • He’s not Naughty by Deborah Brownson
  • My Awesome Autism by Nikki Saunders
  • The abilities in me ASD by Gemma Keir
  • It’s Raining Cats and Dogs by Michael Barton

Brain Injury

  • Tim-Tron by Ian Ray and Garry Parsons
  • Mary has a brain tumour by Clic Sargent
  • Gilly the Giraffe (n.b. the Encephalitis Society will send out colouring posters if you ask)
  • The Abilities in Me Hydrocephalus by Gemma Keir

Cerebral Palsy

  • Howie Helps Himself by Joan Fassler
  • Petey by Ben Mikaelsen
  • Nathan’s Wish by Laurie Lears

Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)

  • The Abilities in Me – Congenital Heart Defect by Gemma Keir

Down’s Syndrome

  • Storm of strawberries by Jo Cotterill
  • Sky song by Abi Elphinstone
  • Why Are You Looking at Me?: I Just Have Down Syndrome by Lisa Tompkins

Hearing impairment

  • Freddie and the Fairy by Julia Donaldson
  • What the Jackdaw Saw by Julia Donaldson
  • Max the Champion by Sean Stockdale, Alex Strick and Ross Asquith
  • Max and the Millions by Ross Montgomery
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Song for a whale by Lynne Kelly
  • Dachy’s Deaf by Jack Hughes

Limb difference

  • Runaway Robot by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
  • Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy
  • The Tree with no limbs by Christine Marie Johnson
  • When Charley Met Emma by Amy Webb & Merrilee Liddiard
  • Elephant and Piggie, Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
  • OCDaniel by Wesley King
  • All the things that could go wrong by Stewart Foster

Sight impairment

  • The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti
  • Mole’s Sunrise by Jeanne Willis
  • Lucy’s picture by Nicola Moon
  • Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll by Sunny Seki
  • Knots on a counting rope by Bill Martin

Type I Diabetes

  • The Abilities in Me – Type I Diabetes by Gemma Keir

Treacher Collins Syndrome

  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wheelchair users

  • The Mystery of the Colour Thief by Ewa Jazelkowicz
  • Mermaid by Cerri Burnell & Lauren Ellen Anderson
  • Amazing by Steve Anthony
  • The Tornado Chasers by Ross Montgomery
  • Susan laughs by Jeanne Willis, Tony Ross
  • The Enchanted Bus: Lily and the lost soldiers by Anne Stamp and Simon Collins
  • You Choose in Space by Nick Sharratt & Pippa Goodhart
  • Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher
  • The Adventures of Grandad Wheels by Brian Abram

Young Carers

  • Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho Yen
  • Who let the gods out by Maz Evans
  • My Mum has Epilepsy by Karen Llewellyn
  • Guardians of the wild unicorns by Lindsey Littleson
  • Running on Empty by S E Durant and Rob Biddulph

22q Deletion Syndrome (Digeorge Syndrome)

  • The Abilities in Me 22q Deletion Syndrome by Gemma Keir

For older kids and teens

Autism

  • Can you see me? By Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime by Mark Haddon
  • The Insider’s Club by Echo Miller
  • The Chronicles of Barnia by Guy Sigley
  • It’s Raining Cats and Dogs by Michael Barton
    A Different Kettle of Fish by Michael Barton
An image of the cover of 'the insiders club'. It shows four young men with their backs to the reader and the words 'everyone wants to belong'.

Cerebral Palsy

  • A Curse so Dark and Lonely (the Cursebreaker series) by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBride
  • Reaching for the Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Colitis

  • Special Dog Squadron Series – by Stuart K Manley

Downs Syndrome

  • Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon
  • The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliot

Books not focussing on disability but containing disabled characters

  • 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
  • Special Dog Squadron by Stuart K Manley

(Please note that we haven’t read all of these books. Inclusion in this list isn’t necessarily a recommendation by WeCanAccess.)

Emma Bara is co-founder of WeCanAccess.com. She is keen to see characters in books better represent all children and adults.

Headshot of a smiling Emma Bara.

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  1. Just came across another one: Elephant and Piggie/ Can I Play Too? About peer inclusion in play and limb difference (a snake). Early reading book.