Best books in line for prizes;1999 Special Needs Book Awards;Reviews

29th October 1999 at 01:00
The 1999 Special Needs Book Awards will be presented by the National Association for Special Educational Needs and the Educational Publishers Council with support from The TES and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The awards will be presented by junior education minister Jacqui Smith at the Special Needs London exhibition next week. The shortlist for the academic award includes: Approaches to Teaching and Learning: including pupils with learning difficulties, which has a foreword by Gary Thomas. There are three authors: Ron Babbage, who is an OFSTED inspector and head of a GM special school (St John's School, Kempston, Bedfordshire), Helen Redding, who is a senior manager at St John's, and Richard Byers, who is a tutor at University of Cambridge School of Education and lecturer at Westminster College, Oxford. The publisher, David Fulton, also provided the Fulton Fellowship which funded research time. "Comprehensive and helpful," was the verdict of the judging panel of teachers and teacher trainers, who looked at 40 entries.

Inclusive Education, edited by Harry Daniels and Philip Garner, in the Kogan Page World Yearbook of Education 1999 series, is one of two edited collections of articles on the shortlist. "It maintains breadth of debate and has some outstanding chapters," said the judges. They also liked Collaborating for Effectiveness: empowering schools to be inclusive by Jennifer Evans, Ingrid Lunt, Klaus Wedell and Alan Dyson (Open University Press): "Clear and persuasive, with a welcome focus on collaboration at a time of increasing competition."

Literature for All by Nicola Grove, lecturer in clinical communication studies at City University, London (David Fulton), is one of a series on developing various curriculum areas for children with special needs, with examples drawn from teachers' and speech therapists' experience. "A challenging and refreshing focus on literature," said the judges.

Teaching Children with Autism to Mind-Read by Patricia Howlin, Simon Baron-Cohen and Julie Hadwin, (John Wiley) was, the judges said, "user-friendly, but based on a sound conceptual modelling with good empirical underpinning".

Care about Education: a joint training curriculum for supporting children in public care is a five-module course to help local councils meet educational targets for children in their care, written by Sally Morgan for the National Children's Bureau. It grew out of the NCB's Improving Educational Opportunities for Children in Public Care project. "A valuable and important explanation of multidisciplinary work," was the verdict. In Promoting Inclusive Practice edited by Christina Tilstone, Lani Florian and Richard Rose (Routledge), the judges found "a good balance of theory and practice and effective explanation of issues".

The contenders for the Special Needs Children's Book Award have to appeal to young readers as well as present people with special needs in a positive light. The shortlist, chosen from 35 books, includes three information book entries aimed at primary readers. The Think About series from Belitha Press (Think About Being Blind by Peter White; ... Being Deaf by Maggie Woolley; ... Being in a Wheelchair by Lois Keith; ... Having a Learning Disability by Margaret and Peter Flynn) was approved as "an excellent reference series with imaginative material", while I'm Special by Jen Green (Wayland) was "a good introduction to the subject of disabilities" and Animals as Carers by Clare Oliver (Franklin Watts) had "an original approach".

The primary fiction contender is Big Ben by Rachel Anderson (Mammoth), about Matthew and his big brother Ben: "A moving and compelling story." Stiks and Stoans by Andrew Matthews (Mammoth) includes extracts from the diary of Ella, a dyslexic girl who attracts the attention of bullies, showing "good insight". Three hard-hitting novels are about teenagers who have to cope after horrific injuries. Face by Benjamin Zephaniah (Bloomsbury) is the first novel from a top performance poet who is himself dyslexic. Martin is a streetwise 15-year-old who literally loses his face in a car accident: "A powerful story raising important issues." In Sweet Clarinet by James Riordan (Oxford University Press) - "an optimistic message" - schoolboy Billy, disfigured in the Blitz, is helped by Terry, an injured veteran.

Anna, the heroine of Fighting Back by Australian author Wendy Orr (Orchard) is a karate champion involved in a car accident. "Written for the older adolescent girl, this book doesn't pull any punches."


Academic award: Professor David Galloway, head of University of Durham school of education (chair); Anne Fowlie, deputy head of Sandall Wood Special School, Doncaster; Sue Pearson, lecturer in education, University of Leeds; Anna Williams, special needs co-ordinator at Hillden Primary School, Romford, Essex.

Children's book award: Dorothy Smith, Chair of NASEN publications committee (chair); Mike Gordon; NASEN media officer; Linda Sigurdsson of REACH, the National Advice Centre for Children with Reading Difficulties; plus pupil judges Kate Gallow of Walton High School, Stafford and Michael Riordan of Haberdashers Aske's Hatcham College, London.

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