Outside In World – children’s literature from around the world

Outside In World aims to help change the future of inclusive and accessible books with the launch of its new research findings. Disability is a disturbingly under-represented area in children’s literature and many more inclusive and accessible books are needed. The results of our ground-breaking ‘Reading the Way’ project, undertaken in 2014/15 with funding from Arts Council England, Unwin Charitable Trust and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, shows that books from around the world have a wealth of new perspectives on disability and new ways to access stories to offer UK children. As well as highlighting many potential candidates for UK publication, the consultation has generated valuable learning points and good practice to help the UK shape children’s books of the future.

Outside In World is the UK organisation dedicated to promoting and exploring children’s literature from around the world, particularly books in translation. Our project’s aim was to discover exceptional international books that stood out specifically in terms of being ‘accessible’ and/or ‘inclusive’ (i.e. including disability or disabled characters within the story). Through a series of focus groups – comprised of disability experts and organisations, teachers, librarians, publishers, parents and young people – we were able to assess these titles books and to explore their appropriateness, appeal and viability.

60 books were assessed, originating from 15 countries: Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Italy, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Syria.

The project identified:
– A valuable list of international books relevant to disability.
– A powerful picture of the way disability is approached around the world.
– Several ‘gems’ in terms of really exciting books and excellent models of good practice.
– Important learning points or simple ideas that could work well in books, including the pitfalls to be avoided.

Alexandra Strick of Outside In World explained: “We felt that this is a substantially under-supported area within the UK children’s book industry and all too often children with additional needs are effectively excluded. Our project confirms that the needs of many young people, such as those with speech and language difficulties, learning difficulties or sensory impairments, are largely overlooked by mainstream books.”

For further information visit www.outsideinworld.org.uk or contact: alex@strick.co.uk or deborahhallford@yahoo.co.uk.

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