Children's books

9th September 2005 at 01:00
EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT SERIES. By Bronwyn Tainui, Peter and Catherine Mair. Kingscourt McGraw-Hill. pound;30 for pack of six

Here is a new series for key stages 2 and 3 that encourages children to understand peers who have different health needs.

I Am Deaf features Josh and his friend, Zara, who are profoundly deaf. They do homework together using the internet and communicating by e-mail. Their hearing friends at school talk clearly to help them lip read and they also know some sign language. (I've seen this in action and was delighted to discover children use sign language to talk in class under their desks.)

The diary format (also used in I Have Glasses) is very effective. Readers will enjoy details like the Shake Awake alarm clock (which does exactly as its name suggests) and the fact that the smoke alarm in Josh's house is now connected to the lights, making them flash on and off to warn him of fire.

Mark Coote's excellent photographs clearly depict real people living real lives, and the text is breezily informative but never patronising. While the series celebrates difference it also underlines the truism that, actually, everyone is similar.

Other titles look at cerebral palsy, epilepsy, diabetes and asthma.

Kevin Harcombe

Headteacher, Redlands primary school, Fareham

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