Children's Book Review

Review: A Day at the Park by Lesley Berrington

You may remember a little while ago we reviewed a wonderful book called ‘A Day at the Farm‘ by Lesley Berrington (read the full review here) today we’ve been reading A Day at the Park, part of the same series of inclusive books ‘Hattie and Friends’ which promote a positive image of disabilities for young children.

The series ‘Hattie and Friends’ is written by Lesley Berrington, a former nursery owner who, after a course on Disability Discrimination, noticed that very few 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.

A Day at the Park is a lovely, relatable story about Hattie and her friend Toby’s trip to a country park with their mums. Readers are taken through the children’s day of train rides, duck feeding, animal spotting and ice cream eating. What makes this book different is that one of the main characters, Toby, has a cochlear implant. The story doesn’t focus on, or even mention Toby’s cochlear implant or that he is deaf, we are just shown that he has one through the illustrations. And this is what makes this book particularly special.

What did we like about it?

  • Engaging Story – First and foremost this book is a really lovely, engaging and fun story for young children to either read themselves of have read to them. We particularly loved how relatable the story is, that is to say, children will probably have been to a park themselves and will be able to relate the the experience. In my opinion, when a book is about something that children have also experienced , they feel more connected to it. It can also help to promote speech and language skills as children may be more encouraged to talk about their own experiences after they have read the book.
  • Promotes Inclusion – We’ve become huge fans of Lesley’s books as they are fantastic for promoting inclusion. Unlike other books, ‘Hattie and Friends’ don’t focus on the child’s disabilities, in fact there is absolutely no mention of their disabilities in the book at all. This is done completely on purpose in order to show that disabled people should be fully included in society and we should not be focusing on peoples differences. By including children with disabilities in the story Lesley is also normalising disabilities and helping children to see that some people have cochlear implants (like in this book) and some people might have leg braces (like in A Day at the Farm) and that we value these characters equally, as we should.
  • Provides Opportunities to Teach Children about Disabilities – Some children when reading the books may not even notice the character’s disability, which is wonderful because it shows that they are fully accepting of disabilities. But if they do notice it and ask questions, this is also brilliant as it provides a fantastic opportunity to teach children about disabilities and about equality and inclusion. A Day at the Park would be an excellent book for peers of a child with a cochlear implant, helping to normalise it and also to provide an opportunity to learn and understand their friend’s needs.

  • Empowers Children – For children who may be deaf or have some degree of hearing loss, maybe they have a hearing aid or a cochlear implant, this book would be brilliant. It’s really important for children to be able to feel included in books, whether it be their disability, skin colour, family life etc. If a child who has a cochlear implant for example, never sees a picture of another child with a cochlear implant in a book, they are being given the message that they are not fully included in society. Which is quite frankly, heart breaking. I think it would be incredibly empowering for a child with a cochlear implant to read this book and to ‘see them self ‘ fully included and accepted.

  • Provides Positive Image of Disability – Lesley’s books are amazing for promoting a positive image of disability and A Day at the Park, is no different. By including illustrations of one of the characters with a cochlear implant, this book shows that children who are deaf or have some degree of hearing loss, are more than capable of playing, having fun and enjoying the same activities as their friends.

Find out more about A Day at the Park on Lesley’s website here and on amazon here

*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. 

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