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Finding inclusive books

Specs for Rex

Most children's books today suitably reflect our multicultural society. However, not so many reflect other forms of diversity, for example the fact that one in five school-age children has special educational needs. This is especially true of books for very young children. This list aims to help you to find early years books showing positive images of disability, as well as titles that may prove useful in discussing disability and diversity.

  • Elmer's Friends

    Author: David McKee
    Publisher: Andersen Press

    A colourful board book in which the ever-popular Elmer the Elephant praises each of his friends for their different strengths

  • The Giant Turnip

    Author: Henriette Barkow Illustrator: Richard Johnson
    Publisher: Mantra Lingua

    The children in Miss Honeywood's class decide to grow vegetables in their school garden. What a shock they get when they discover a huge turnip that they are unable to move.

  • Seal Surfer

    Author: Michael Foreman
    Publisher: Andersen Press

    A welcome re-publication of Foreman's timeless and evocative account of a boy's relationship with life and death.

  • Brian Has Dyslexia

    Author: Woody Fox Illustrator: Jenny Leigh
    Publisher: Holdane Mason

    Not knowing his left from his right, and his bad headaches are also adding to his problems. Then, with some help from Dr Spot and a specialist teacher, the cause is found to be dyslexia and a range of new and fun solutions help Brian understand the condition and overcome many of the challenges it brings. One of Jenny Leigh’s excellent Doctor Spot serie…

  • This Little Piggy

    Author: Annie Kubler
    Publisher: Child's Play

    Annie Kubler’s exuberant characters tell the well-known rhyme. One child uses a supported chair.

  • My Brother Sammy

    Author: Becky Armitage and David Armitage
    Publisher: Sky Pony Press

    If only his brother was “normal”. Mum says that Sammy is “special” but the narrator doesn’t want a special brother. He describes a roller coaster of different feelings – loneliness and frustration, sadness and anger, embarrassment and guilt.

    With beautiful colour-wash artwork, this picture is a gentle, honest and ultimate…

  • Peek-a-Boo!

    Author: Annie Kubler
    Publisher: Child's Play

    The exuberant characters include children on supported mats, a child with a leg splint and a parent with a hearing aid.

  • The Animal Boogie

    Author: Stella Blackstone Illustrator: Debbie Harter
    Publisher: Barefoot Books

    Boogie along with the jungle inhabitants who flap, shake, flap and slide their way through this colourful book

  • I Am the Music Man

    Author: Debra Potter
    Publisher: Child's Play

    A large book featuring holes through which you can peek to spot which of the thoroughly inclusive band of musicians is playing each instrument.

  • The Mulberry Bush

    Author: Annie Kubler
    Publisher: Child's Play

    A large-format picture book with strong pages and peep-through holes.

  • Hamish: The Bear who Found his Child

    Publisher: Piccadilly Press

    Wheelchair-using teddies (quite rightly) blend effortlessly into the landscape,as the toys have fun while the humans aren't looking in this book.

  • The Ding-Dong Bag

    Author: Polly Peters Illustrator: Jess Stockham
    Publisher: Child's Play

    The fast-moving and rhythmic text make this great book perfect for reading aloud, and a subtle arm splint on one of the boys is typical of Child’s Play’s inclusive approach to books.

  • Susan Laughs

    Author: Jeanne Willis Illustrator: Tony Ross
    Publisher: Andersen

    Susan can do so many things - she can laugh, sing, fly, dance, swim and much more. The final page of this wonderful book reveals that Susan is in a wheelchair, showing that 'disabled' doesn't mean 'disadvantaged'.

  • Winnie the Witch

    Author: Valerie Thomas Illustrator: Korky Paul
    Publisher: Oxford University Press

    This is the first of many stories about Winnie and her cat, Wilber. Winnie is a well-loved character, and the excellent illustrations are wild and wacky.

  • Pat-a-Cake!

    Author: Annie Kubler
    Publisher: Child's play

    Part of a series introducing well loved games and rhymes.

  • My First Animal Signs

    Author: Anthony Lewis
    Publisher: Child's Play

    One of the series of board books introducing useful words - delightful illustrations show children signing the words.

  • The Okay Book

    Author: Todd Parr
    Publisher: Little, Brown

    With reinforced binding and bright primary colours, this fun little book encourages children to recognise that everything is okay, from wearing glasses or having being friends with a mouse!

  • Just Because

    Author: Rebecca Elliott
    Publisher: Lion Children's

    This uplifting book focuses on a sibling relationship, as a little boy affectionately describes his older sister

  • Mary Had a Little Lamb - Classic Books with Holes

    Author: Marina Aizen
    Publisher: Child's Play

    One of Child's Play's delightful early years books which reflect the true diversity of society in a natural and uncontrived way.

  • Max the Champion

    Author: Sean Stockdale and Alexandra Strick Illustrator: Ros Asquith
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln

    This inclusive book is about a boy who loves sport, his friends, and school - and has a vivid imagination

  • The Black Book of Colours

    Author: Menena Cottin Illustrator: Rosana Faria
    Publisher: Walker Books

    A visually impaired boy introduces us to colours as he experiences them – through his senses of hearing, touch, smell and taste.

  • Benjamin & the Super Spectacles

    Author: Rachel Bright
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

    Benjamin Bounce keeps bouncing into things and needs spectacles... A lovely picture book about friends making each other feel super!

  • Specs for Rex

    Author: Yasmeen Ismail
    Publisher: Bloomsbury

    A perfectly judged niche story that has general appeal due to a clean text and cute character; Specs for Rex is a visual treat that's really worth putting your glasses on for.