Publisher: Otter-Barry Books
You can dress up, paint your face, dance and be silly. You can be part of a crowd or lead the way. You can forgive others and yourself, and you can make mistakes and learn from them too. There are so many amazing things that you can do – and whatever you choose, you can be kind, be brilliant, and be YOU.
Based on real children's own voices and messages (including young disabled people), You Can! is a fabulously inclusive picture book that reminds all children that they are valued individuals with a bright future. This is a non-fiction book that aims to empower children, reassuring them that whatever life they may lead, there are opportunities to be supported, loved, happy and fulfilled.
Sometimes – as in the spread featuring a blind runner, with their guide runner helping them stay on track – children are reminded that they can do anything anyone else can do, but they just might have to do it differently (this was a direct quote from a young blind person who contributed to the book). The emphasis here is that if we need additional help, or need to do things a slightly different way, that’s fine, which is a useful message for all children.
Steve Antony’s marvellous illustration is full of action and emotion, showing a great variety of children growing up from babies to adults, making their choices as they go along and living their own, wonderful, unique lives.
You Can! also features impairments rarely included casually in books, such as a child with restricted growth, a child with a cleft lip and a foreshortened arm.
As explained at the back of the book, the writing and illustrating of You Can! involved substantial input from inclusion ambassadors to check accuracy and ensure authenticity throughout.