When I was a teenager a blind friend of my Dad's stayed with us for a few months. Since then I have learned to see the world differently.
This man became like and uncle to me and has continued to be an important part of my life. Cliff has always talked about his life's experience, as a child when he had enough sight to see colours, his time at the blind school etc and I am always amazed how exciting his life has been.
I have also seen how many people don't understand how to react around a blind person and realized that I have had this privilege in my life. As a children's author I have always made by books focus on inclusion, acceptance, friendship and kindness as well as be conversation starters for topics that may be a little harder to discuss.
So I thought a book series with a main character being visually impaired would allow everyone to glimpse how awesome life can be with a blind friend.
Adventures with My White Cane will be a picture book series that I will begin work on in early 2021. Be sure to stay tuned for updates!
book recommendation: Liam Strong as a Tree
Join us in the Kindness Kangaroo Library for a special storytime session featuring Liam, as Strong as a Tree. Learn what it is like to be friends with Liam, a boy with Cystic Fibrosis.
One of my most rewarding class visits was to the Room 6 Stars where I went to get ideas for the book Dino Stars. I was not aware when I first went that some of the children did not have speech and at first I worried about how we could share ideas for the story. But I needn't have worried. These kids were welcoming and very good at communicating their ideas, through whatever means worked best - sign language, pointing to pictures, using a tablet app - their imaginations were strong and their excitement to share big.
And what I discovered was that this class visit was very much like any of my other class visits where I gather ideas from the kids to create a book. These children just communicated a bit differently than most of the other children I had worked with. But I adapted and all these amazing children were included in the Kindness Kangaroo Project.
And as exciting it was for them to be part of a book, it was so rewarding to me to be part of the experience. To be able to learn different ways of communication, to observe special ways of interacting and to be included in their circle of friends made it one of my best days.
Inclusion for All
We are all so different and unique beings and it makes us feel good when we see characters in books that we can relate to because they are like us. It is important then that children's books feature characters that have a variety of differences so many more children can find a character to relate to.
It is important that differences are shown in books so that every wonderful uniqueness is recognized, accepted and is made main-stream. How sad would you be if you were a child that couldn't connect to any book because none of the characters depicted someone like you. And, how excited would you be if you found a book that had a character just like you.
I am reminded of the story of the little boy in the wheelchair that was stopped dead in his tracks when he saw a poster in a store with a little boy in the wheelchair. Every child should experience the joy of connecting like this.