Susan Daniels is the Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, who have just produced a children’s book with a difference. Here, she tells us all about it.
What led NDCS to work on making the book?
We believe characters in stories should be as diverse as the people who read them – but only a handful of children’s books feature characters with disabilities or special educational needs.
We are constantly challenging governments and society to meet deaf children’s needs, so Daisy and Ted’s Awesome Adventures came about as a way for us to challenge this lack of inclusion.
What was the process like?
We recruited author and illustrator Alex Naidoo, a mother with extensive teaching experience, so she understands how children think and what they like. She worked closely with our in-house designers to create Daisy and Ted’s Awesome Adventures.
Regrettably, I no longer fit into the age bracket of the book’s target audience (4-8) so we also consulted with Surrey Deaf Children’s Society and Whitehall Primary School in Chingford. Their feedback helped to shape the storyline and illustrations, so that even before the book was published we knew it had a stamp of approval from deaf and hearing children.
What is special about this book?
Most deaf children are born to hearing parents and go to mainstream schools where they may be the only deaf child, so they can feel quite isolated. It’s important for deaf children to see someone like themselves in a book, to help them feel included and understood.
Daisy is a great role model because she always finds creative solutions to tackle problems and never gives up. Some of the issues she faces are things deaf children will relate to – albeit in slightly unusual settings, like using sign language on board a noisy pirate ship and asking aliens to tuck their tentacles away from their mouths when talking so that she can lip-read!
What makes the book extra special though is its broad appeal. Seeing a deaf character will be a huge confidence boost for deaf children – but ultimately, it’s an imaginative adventure story that any child can enjoy.
Do you have plans to work on future books?
Absolutely! Daisy and Ted’s Awesome Adventures is a small step on the road to inclusion and diversity in children’s books. We are already working on another book, aimed at slightly older readers. It’s not a sequel, it will be an entirely new story, but again the main character will be deaf and send the message that deaf children can do anything their hearing friends can. This is something we’re very passionate about so I hope many other organisations will follow suit.
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