This week I’ve had the absolute pleasure of reading a wonderful book that has inclusion well and truly embedded into the story and illustrations*.
A Day at the Farm is a lovely tale of two friends, Hattie and Nisha, who have a day out visiting a farm together. It is part of a series of books called Hattie and Friends Books, written by Lesley Berrington. Lesley is a former owner of a nursery and after a course on Disability Discrimination she noticed that very little children’s books have a character with a disability as part of the story. She therefore decided to solve this problem by writing a series of books to meet the demand for inclusive children’s books.
What did we like about it?
- Teaches Inclusion– One of the characters in the book, Nisha, wears leg braces and uses walking aids. What sets this book apart from others I’ve read is that although Nisha has a disability, the book isn’t about her disability. In fact, there is absolutely no mention whatsoever of her disability. And this can be absolutely wonderful, as by not mentioning it, it shows to children that people with disabilities should be fully accepted. I would go as far as saying not mentioning the disability is more powerful than mentioning it. We are modelling to children the acceptance of differences. We are showing children that when reading the book we aren’t homing in on Nisha’s differences because we fully accept her, we value her equally, as should they. When reading this to the children, I was delighted that they didn’t even mention Nisha’s leg braces or walking aids, they noticed them in the illustrations but were so accepting of disabilities that to them it wasn’t a ‘big deal’.
- Opens up Discussions about Inclusion – Although the children didn’t mention Nisha’s disability when we read the book, if they had of done it would have allowed us to have an open discussion about disabilities and inclusion. If they had have seen Nisha to be different to them and questioned her walking aids or leg braces, we could have used it as a brilliant opportunity to teach them about disabilities and acceptance. Helping them the next time they saw someone with a disability to be more accepting, compassionate and understanding.
- Positive Image of Disabilities – I loved the positive message A Day at the Farm gives children about disabilities. The character, Nisha, is by no way defined by her disabilities. The story shows how she takes everything in her stride when visiting the farm, feeding the animals and playing in the playground with her friend. I loved the attention to detail in the images, if you look carefully you can see in the illustrations where Nisha pops her walking aids when she is in the car, the farm cafe and in the gift shop. You can also see when she needs to use them to walk into her friends house and round the farm and how she uses them as a support when bottle feeding one of the lambs.
- Empowers Children with Disabilities – In my opinion, it’s incredibly important for all children to feel represented in the books and toys they read and play with, helping them to feel accepted and part of society. If a child with disabilities never sees a disabled person in a book, we are sending them the awful message that they aren’t included. Lesley’s book A Day at the Farm needs to be in classrooms, libraries and children’s bookshelves, to ensure that children who have disabilities feel included and accepted.
- Lovely Story – The story is lovely, relatable and realistic. The characters aren’t blasting off to space or doing something else that is unlikely to happen to the readers! This means children can see themselves in the book and relate to the chapters more easily. Importantly, the children adored the book and really enjoyed reading it together. I say it’s important that the children adored the book because there’s no point having the most wonderful message about inclusion in a book, if children don’t enjoy reading it…as it will just get left on the shelf and the message lost.
*Please note we received a sample copy of the book for the purposes of this review and this is sponsored. All thoughts and words are our own.