07 July 2021
When talking about equality, representation is key!
For children, as part of their education and understanding of the world, it’s important to see characters in stories who they can relate to – whether that’s through appearance, disability or circumstance – and who they can learn from.
Reading isn’t always about learning, but it can make learning a lot more fun!
Even for little ones both on and off the neonatal unit, reading aloud to your baby can help support their growth and development, and help with bonding too.
If you’re looking for books that will introduce children to a broad range of characters from diverse backgrounds dealing with real-life issues, we’ve collated this list of accessible SEN-friendly stories:
Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus
Written by a deaf author, this poignant story follows a father and son’s journey into the discovery and management of deafness.
When Boy Bear struggles to hear what his teacher and classmates are saying, and can’t understand why he keeps hearing them ask "Can Bears ski?", he visits an audiologist with Dad Bear and is given hearing aids. Suddenly, the question he thinks everyone has been asking him becomes clear: "Can you hear me?"
The story is beautifully illustrated and shows, not only how isolating it can be for a deaf child in a hearing world, but how there are so many ways to communicate and share learning.
Even better, the book is available on YouTube as a British Signed Story so everyone can enjoy the story together.
I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott
Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, this poetic, child-appropriate story explores what it’s like to live with a stutter.
“I wake up each morning with the sounds of words all around me.
And I can't say them all…”
Incapable of communicating the way he wants due to a speech impediment; we follow the journey of one boy who finds his voice with help from his father and the movements of the river.
Based on the author’s own experience, this story is both moving and inspirational and can be enjoyed by parents and children with relevant themes that can help little ones who are struggling with speech and language.
Fun in the Sun by Jackie Logue
A free e-book from disability charity Scope UK, Fun in the Sun is a lovely, illustrated story which shows how tube-feeding shouldn’t stop young children from having fun and getting involved in activities.
Ted joins their friend Mikki in their power chairs to enjoy time together outdoors doing everything from blowing bubbles to playing in a paddling pool to being in the park.
This short e-book has a great message for those who are tube-fed – the fun doesn’t stop just because you don’t eat and drink like your friends. Fun in the sun is never ending!
Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival
An amazing read for all children, Perfectly Norman addresses issues of individuality and self-expression.
‘Norman had always been perfectly normal . . . until the day he grew a pair of wings!’
As Norman struggles with whether to hide his new wings or embrace them, he must come to terms with being himself and embracing what makes him different and unique.
From Tom Percival's bestselling Big Bright Feelings series for children that offers a variety of stories about self-expression and self-love, this book is uplifting and full of lovely illustrations. It’s a great read to encourage kids to be themselves and embrace what makes them different.
The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright
You might already be familiar with this bestselling story about confidence and finding your roar.
A book with a great message for kids, the story opens with a meek mouse who wishes he could roar like a lion. But soon he discovers that even the biggest, bravest people get scared sometimes and, no matter how big or small you are, we’re all the same inside.
The Lion Inside is great for older children who’ll love the moral of the story and for younger kids who’ll enjoy the unique, engaging illustrations.
We hope this list can help inspire families to look at more representative, accessible books that help broaden all of our horizons.
We’ll be sharing part 2 of our round-up of 10 accessible SEN-friendly books very soon. Check our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates.
If you’ve enjoyed any of these stories or thought this list was helpful, let us know on social media!