I recently came into possession of two children’s books that are so delightful on so many levels, that I think they’re worth sharing. They are written by Bec Oakley (who is the well-respected author of the “Snagglebox” blog). Both books are written in rhyme, from the perspective of an autistic child called Jake, and have such lovely messages of inclusion and understanding that they managed to bring me to tears. I’m not sure what an official age range would be for these books, but as a mother of a three year-old and eight year-old, I consider the books worth sharing from preschool age to all the way up through the primary school years. I think older children could benefit from the messages of inclusiveness too.
“Jake Learns the Tooth” is about Jake coming to terms with the losing of his first tooth. He misunderstands his father’s comment about the tooth fairy, and various comments made by other people throughout the book; Jake takes their comments very literally which creates anxiety (and some amusement at their literalness). Other children with differences – such as using wheelchairs and being hearing impaired – get a mention in the story, but the story doesn’t turn on their differences which is part of the beauty of this book; they are just part of Jake’s diverse world. By the end, Jake loses his tooth and has a happier outlook and a new friend; what ending could be better?
My son currently has a wiggly tooth that he’d been told by the dentist to wiggle everyday; while he was reading the book he laughed and kept wiggling that stubborn tooth, which was fantastic.
“Jake Rides the Rollercoaster” has Jake facing his love, intense interest, and ultimately fear of rollercoasters. The story covers how different people have different fears and preferences, and how change and sensory overload can impact on people. It shows how knowledge and giving things a go can help you face your fears, and how accommodating difference can help others to join in. Bec even manages to slip in some lovely instances of stimming as an alternative to how children usually experience and show their emotions, which allows autistic children to be drawn into the story, while encouraging non-autistic children to be more open-minded and accepting of these differences.
As if all those points weren’t endearing enough, the pictures throughout have been drawn by children in Australia, and the money from the book sales go to support the Australia charity “Therapy Focus” which has a strong interest in promoting inclusion.
You can find out more about Therapy Focus here, and buy the books together or separately through the same website, on this page. The cost is very reasonable, at $Aus 14.95 for one, or $Aus 24.95 for both.
I was so taken with the many beauties of the books, that I have since ordered another set, to gift to my son’s primary school. When I told his teacher the books I was going to gift, she said she’d like to share them around the classrooms for discussion too, not least of all because they have a number of autistic children throughout the school.
In ordering the books I noticed the website only had an Australia postal option. I had to message them to ask for a New Zealand postal option, they replied quickly and were very happy to create the option for me. So if you want to buy the books too and you’re outside of Australia, don’t hesitate to contact them directly through the website to arrange a postal alternative. They tell me they are working on creating an international option as standard, so if you’re reading this post a few months from the date of me publishing it, that option may already exist (let me know if it does so I can update the post).
I really can’t recommend these books highly enough; for the writing, the pictures, the message and the ability to donate to a worthy charity in the process. Everybody wins 🙂