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Geraldine Brennan looks at the titles shortlisted for the NasenTES Books Awards


For the book that does most to inspire and inform educators Shortlisted titles The Emotional Literacy Handbook: promoting whole-school strategies By Antidote David Fulton (

The handbook draws together six years of work with schools by Antidote, a charity and consultancy that promotes emotional literacy and offers snapshots of the approach in 24 case studies. "Useful at both the academic and the practitioner level, instantly accessible, nicely presented and easy to find your way around," said the judges. "It is full of common sense and good practice."

Experiences of Special Education: Re-evaluating policy and practice through life stories By Derrick Armstrong RoutledgeFalmer

Derrick Armstrong, professor of education at the University of Sheffield, gives a voice to 30 adults who attended special institutions or schools between 1944 and today, in what the TES review (Friday magazine, December 5, 2003) described as "a meaty, informative and moving book, and one that anyone interested in the rise and fall of special education should read".

The judges recognised "a thorough and challenging book with a consistent and sound argument, which addresses policy and practice over time by looking not only at people's life stories but at how decisions are made and the broader sociological content. It's solid without being dull, dense but not obscure."

Educational Inclusion as Action Research: an interpretive discourse By Christine O'Hanlon Open University Press

Christine O'Hanlon's book offers a blueprint for teachers and other professionals using action research in their moves towards inclusive practice, arguing that the research process itself needs to be more democratic and inclusive. The judges predicted that it will be "really useful" to teachers doing masters degrees or embarking on PhDs. "A good text which brings together two very important issues in the heart of the author. It has a very clear audience in mind and is eclectic in what it is trying to cover."The judges Audrey Osler, director of the Centre for Citizenship and Human Rights Education, University of Leeds.

Sarah Worth, speech and language therapist, Cheshire autism support.

Hazel Lawson, principal lecturer in education, University of Plymouth.

Isobel Calder, director of professional development, University of Strathclyde.


For the book that most successfully helps children and young people with SEN access the curriculum

Shortlisted titles

The Trouble with Maths: A practical guide to helping learners with numeracy difficulties By Steve Chinn RoutledgeFalmer

"Thought-provoking, fresh, accessible and very thorough with content that hauls the reader in", was the verdict on this book by the founder and principal of Mark College, Somerset, a specialist school for pupils with dyslexia. The Trouble with Maths was welcomed for raising the profile of numeracy in learning difficulties. "It moves away from the search for the perfect maths scheme and much more towards individual responses, looking at the reasons why children might arrive at a different answer and the steps that can be taken to prevent difficulties arising. You wouldn't have to be a learning support specialist to pick up on its user-friendly strategies."

Escape from Exclusion: An emotionally literate approach to supporting excluded and disaffected students at key stages 2, 3 and 4 By Brian Marris and Tina Rae Lucky Duck

This 15-session programme of teacher notes, activity ideas and worksheets was devised for excluded pupils but also provides, said the judges, "a pro-active, preventative approach" to working with those at risk of exclusion. "This is a really practical resource created by practitioners," they concluded. "Everything in it is needed. It clearly fills an important niche and recognises the subtleties of the exclusion mechanism. The structure allows exploration of the key aspects of emotional intelligence.

It gives pupils an opportunity to see their exclusion in the context of a national picture; to realise that it is not only happening to them."

Disabling Imagery: A teaching guide to disability and moving image media By Richard Rieser In print and CD form plus DVD.

British Film Institute EducationDisability Equality in Education

An introduction to the historical context of disability issues linked to contemporary themes leads to consideration of "the 10 stereotypes of disabled people" as seen on screen, from the "freakish" treatments of the silent era to today's soap operas, and film from the art house to the blockbuster with top billing for those films and TV dramas that convey appropriate messages. "This makes the most of film, which attracts young people, as a lever for raising important issues," said the judges. "There is subtle handling of film language and construction, a solid background on how to teach this area of the curriculum and examples that can be used immediately for any group, starting with a Circle Time discussion about the messages contained in Shrek."

Communicate: In Print Widgit Software (

This desktop publishing package "takes the secrecy out of a specialist field", said the judges, in allowing teachers to compile individual visual timetables for pupils and produce signs, school documents and parents'


"It's a powerful tool for the dissemination of good practice, remarkable for the sense of unending possibility that it generates and the range of people who can benefit, including children of all ages and abilities and parents of all languages. Widgit symbols are well embedded in special school practice; this package refines the approach and promotes inclusive practice. It's telling teachers that they can use this tool with any pupil." The package can also be used across the curriculum to study the use of symbols.

The Judges

Philip Garner, professor of special educational needs at Nottingham Trent University.

Tom Deveson, freelance educator and writer.

Sue Pearson, lecturer at Leeds University.

Deirdrie Torrance, quality improvement officer, City of Edinburgh.


For the children's book that most successfully provides a positive image of young people with special needs

Shortlisted titles

Al Capone Does My Shirts By Gennifer Choldenko Bloomsbury Children's Books

In 1935, Moose Flanagan and his family arrive on Alcatraz Island, where his father is a guard, a year after the Rock's most famous resident, Al Capone.

Moose's teenage sister has autism, which has not yet been recognised as a condition. Natalie's parents believe a progressive San Francisco school could help her, but she seems no more likely than the inmates to make the break across the Bay. "This story has everything," said one judge. "The boy's responsibilities as a carer, the mother hanging on to hope, the wonderfully described setting. I can't wait to introduce it to my students."

Granny Torelli Makes Soup By Sharon Creech Bloomsbury Children's Books

"You can feel the heat in that kitchen and smell the oregano going into that pot," said the judges, in this tale of best friends Bailey and Rosie, Rosie's grandmother and a supporting cast summoned from Granny's youth in Italy and brought to life in her kitchen. Bailey, who has a severe visual impairment, rescues Rosie from bullies and resists her enthusiastic and well-meant attempts to live his life for him. When Rosie thinks Bailey has found a new best friend, the soup pot overflows with emotion. Junior judge Gemma's verdict: "You can get into this book and feel like you are there.

It really is souper."

My Friend series: My Friend is Deaf; My Friend has Asthma; My Friend has Epilepsy; My Friend has Diabetes By Anna Levene Chrysalis Children's Books

These information books for key stage 2 and above could also be used as a quick reference for adults, the judges agreed. In each book, a pair of friends and the fun they have together sharing games, sports, sleep-overs and school life provide a storyline. This leads into details of the condition, the treatment and resources that can help and the best way for others to respond. In My Friend is Deaf, Anna's friend Daniel has been deaf since birth and she reveals why break-times and gym classes are hard for him, why he loves his mobile phone and why she shouldn't talk while chewing gum.

"The word 'friend' in the title is important," one judge commented. "We are led straight into the relationships which are very real and draw us into the facts. The images are of real young people who we might meet, doing the things all young people do, and there is a multicultural emphasis. The questions and glossary are very useful."

The Gift By James Riordan Oxford University Press

Athlete Fee and poet Bee are twins; Bee has cerebral palsy and Fee does the caring that their inadequate, criminally inclined mother can't manage. Bee, whose life changes when her grandfather buys her a computer, helps Fee with English homework and cheers her on in her big race. "We see how much Bee can contribute, how her world opens up through ICT and how she supports Fee. The story constantly revisits the premise that everyone is good at something and the question of whether the sisters will get their chance to shine creates tension."

Judges Ros Bartlett, senior teacher and head of learning and curriculum support, The Earls high school, Halesowen, West Midlands.

Fran Russell, early years practitioner and consultant on services for families of young children with disabilities. She is based in Leeds and has a son with a learning disability.

Bev Whitehead, assistant head in charge of inclusion, The Ockendon school, Essex.

Junior judges Harriet Davies and Gemma Mills, Year 10 pupils at The Earls high school.

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