Hard lessons

30th October 1998 at 00:00

When It's Hard to Hear. When It's Hard to See. When It's Hard to Breathe. When It's Hard to Learn. By Judith Condon. Franklin Watts Pounds 10.99 each

These 30-page well-illustrated books form part of an excellent series intended to help primary children to understand disability. As teachers know, when this issue comes up in class it is not easy to hit the right note. And yet, of course, it is important, not only because of the move to inclusive education, but because there are still too many people who reach adulthood carrying all manner of prejudice. To have books around, therefore, with dispassionate facts, some indication of feelings and some role models, is extremely helpful.

The books are mostly set out in double-page spreads, with headings such as "At Home", "At School", "At Work". There are good attempts to convey what it might be like to be, for example, visually or hearing impaired. The chosen role models include Education Secretary David Blunkett, musician Stevie Wonder, percussionist Evelyn Glennie and Joanne Newman (Special Olympics gold medallist in swimming). They reinforce the positive message that each book promotes. Professor John Hull of Birmingham University, who lost his sight nearly 20 years ago, is shown with his family and writes, "Surprising things happen to you when you are blind. I find it very interesting!" Gerald Haigh

* When It's Hard to Learn has been shortlisted for the NASEN Special Educational Needs Children's Book Award, the first time a non-fiction series has been listed. The other titles on the children's list are Pig-heart Boy by Malorie Blackman (Doubleday); The Crowstarver by Dick King-Smith (Doubleday); Me and My Electric edited by Elizabeth Laird (Mammoth); Alwena's Garden by Mary Oldham (PontGomer Press) and Secret Songs by Jane Stemp (Hodder).

The NASENTES Academic Book Award shortlist is as follows: Asperger's Syndrome. A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Tony Attwood (Jessica Kingsley); Theorising Special Education by Catherine Clark, Alan Dyson and Alan Millward (Routledge); Children in Difficulty by Julian Elliot and Maurice Place (Routledge); Values into Practice in Special Education by Geoff Lindsay and David Thompson (David Fulton); The Making of the Inclusive School by Gary Thomas, David Walker and Julie Webb (Routledge); and Children with Visual Impairments by Alec Webster and Joio Roe (Routledge).

The awards will be presented at the Special Needs London Exhibition on November 5 by TES editor Caroline St John-Brooks, and a full report will appear in Friday magazine on November 6.

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