Having been a teacher who has tried to accommodate children with different needs in the classroom, I’m delighted to be part of the Your Stories Matter publisher celebrations. Today I’m reviewing two books from Your Stories Matter: Emily’s Sister and Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club.
Both books are available for purchase by following the publisher links here.
Emily’s sister is different from other children she knows. She seems to struggle with things most of us just do naturally.
In this delightfully illustrated story, based upon real family experiences, Emily discovers how to understand and help her sister live a happier life.
This story, written by the parent of a child with Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), paves the way for parents, teachers and medical professionals to discuss these specific learning difficulties with children (aged around 7-9).
Unlike most other books on the subject, this book has been written from a child’s perspective: enabling young people to ask questions of the story in a non-threatening way and encouraging them to discover how it relates to them.
This book can be shared with children having special needs, their family, or their classmates.
As with all of its books, the publisher – Your Stories Matter – aims to help people know they are not alone with what makes them different. If a young person or adult can relate to a story, it gives them hope and encourages them to share their concerns. The publisher aims to provide free teaching resources for all of its books that can be used in schools, to help improve understanding and celebrate differences.
My Review of Emily’s Sister
Emily is having a day without her crying sister Elizabeth.
What a cleverly written book Emily’s Sister is. Pitched for children so that they can understand through a child’s perspective what it means for a sibling to have dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), the story also helps adults unfamiliar with the conditions to realise the challenges facing those for whom the world can be a distressing place. I think Emily’s Sister would make a smashing story to share with all children, regardless of their abilities.
Although I would have preferred a more British use of language with perhaps Mum instead of Mom and wardrobe instead of closet these are very minor personal questions of taste and do not affect the overall quality of the book. Presented in reader friendly font with plenty of white space that in itself has a calming effect, the book has illustrations that enhance the story. I liked the future depiction too when Elizabeth has learnt some more traditional skills so that there is a positive message throughout.
Emily’s Sister is a smashing book for children and adults alike.
Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club
This is a children’s story whose main characters happen to have Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and Asperger’s (not made explicit). The book will relate to children who feel different and left out at school (aged 7-9). The book’s real purpose is one of catalyst to help parent and teacher discuss with children, in a gentle way, what it is like to have a learning difficulty.
Vera McLuckie hates school. Mainly because she struggles with stuff the other kids find easy. Oh, and because she keeps getting into trouble for doing what she is really good at. Daydreaming.
So when Vera gets the chance to show just how extraordinary she is, will she dare take on the coolest, smartest girl in the whole of Acorn Bank Primary?
This book works on several levels. It is a lovely story in itself that most children will relate to, dealing as it does with lack of self-belief, peer pressure and the bullying that goes along with not necessarily being the most popular kid in class. These issues can be readily picked up in school and discussed in circle time and PSHE (citizenship) lessons.
But it goes deeper. Whilst not named in the book explicitly, the three main characters exhibit dyspraxic, dyslexic and autistic (Asperger’s Syndrome) tendencies respectively. So the story can be used by parents and teachers as a catalyst for discussing what it is like to have a learning difficulty. In schools, teachers can use the book on a one-to-one, group or class basis to help raise awareness and improve well-being.
My Review of Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club
Vera hates Mondays because she’ll have to go to school where life is overwhelming.
I loved meeting Vera. She’s a brilliant character and I thought it was inspired to present her vivid quality of imagination and her love of facts, before the conventionally negative elements such as her poor writing so that the first impression of a child who is different is a positive one.
The story explores a variety of differences and ways in which children are unique, whether that’s Bethany’s seeming perfection or Vera’s inability to concentrate in class because she day dreams so much. The interjections from a mystery narrator add a layer of conviction that is enhanced by the end of the story so that dyspraxic, dyslexic and autistic youngsters have positive messages reinforced.
Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club is not just a story for children with differences. Bethany’s role serves as a way to discuss bullying at all levels and for children (and adults) to understand that even the most perfect individuals very often have problems of their own. It illustrates how success is a multi-layered and very personal aspect.
The drawings in the book, the font size and the white space give a more comfortable read for those with dyslexia and enable the text to be tackled in chunks whether it is read to or by children.
I can imagine Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club becoming a firm classroom favourite.
About Your Stories Matter
Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk.
The publisher Your Stories Matter is dedicated to publishing books that share experiences, improve understanding and celebrate differences. To this end it provides free cross-curricula teaching resources with all of its books on its website. You can also follow Your Stories Matter on Twitter.
There’s more with these other bloggers too: