Consultation with children
- Above all, the project gave children a real voice about books. It offered them the opportunity to experience, explore and assess books from another country that had not been published in the UK and the chance to actually help enhance such books.
- Key to the project was that workshop participants were aware of the immense value of their own views and experiences. Participants were conscious that their input could have a genuine impact on ‘real’ children’s books, both those translated from other countries but also books which might be written or published in the future. Evidence from the schools involved confirmed that the consultation process had led to participants feeling empowered, and their opinions and experiences respected and valued.
- The project engendered a sense of equality and mutual respect. Authors, illustrators, translators and publishers learned from children, as much as the children gained from the experience.
Value to book creators
- The project generated unique material for the children’s book publishing sector by collecting valuable data and feedback from both disabled children and non-disabled children, and in mainstream settings and special school settings. Such material can surely help to improve authentic inclusion and accessibility across the children’s book landscape.
- The feedback collected suggests many ways to further enhance books that have been published in countries other than the UK. Such material can help improve the chances of such books being accepted by UK publishers.
- The project supported individual UK artists, offering them the unique opportunity to discuss the representation of disability in books with children themselves.
- Feedback from those involved confirms that the participating authors, illustrators and translators were genuinely inspired by their involvement. The books from other countries, feedback from children and material created by the children themselves will help them strengthen the inclusivity and accessibility of their own books. Evidence of this can be seen across all the projects which worked with Annie Kubler, Rosa Tiziana Bruno, Franz-Joseph Huainigg, Nadine Kaadan, Julia Donaldson, Jane Ray, Susie Day and Denise Muir.
- UK artists were introduced to examples of good practice from around the world, enhanced still further by the feedback on these books and ideas for improvement from the participating children.
Disability awareness in schools
- The project allowed disabled and non-disabled children a way to develop new perspectives on disability. It offered a creative and safe way to explore and discuss inclusion and wider diversity.
- The project promoted real disability awareness in the participating schools. Discussing disability through the medium of children’s literature offers a valuable way to address issues of equality, respecting differences and developing empathy. This is a much-needed area of activity, yet in the PSHE curriculum there is only one line that refers to disability. Schools were able to use the books to develop whole-school plans for improving disability awareness. The detailed analysis of Franz-Joseph Huainigg’s books, for example, served as a catalyst for creating a Disability Awareness Activity. The impact of this activity was very powerful, providing a deeper perspective and insight for the children both into being disabled but also supporting someone who is disabled.
- The project serves to highlight the value of books from around the world. It shares examples of good practice from other countries and bringing them to the attention of the UK book publishers.
- The project emphasises the importance and value of books in translation. It helps to raise awareness of books in translation generally as well as highlighting specific titles and providing a way for OIW to encourage possible UK publication of some of the titles involved in the project.
- More specifically, the project identified the value of translating and publishing books with an inclusive message from other countries, as a way of enriching the UK landscape.
- The project also generated a valuable dialogue with translators and students of translation regarding the subject of disability in books. The project looked at the specific role of the translator in relation to some of the challenges that might be involved where translating ‘inclusive’ books was concerned. It caused students of translation to explore new questions that they might not previously have considered, such as whether some images of disability might reinforce stereotypes or some language stigmatise and the extent to which it is role of the translator to censor, dilute or soften content for the target culture.
- The project noted various potential challenges that might be encountered in the translation process. Two particular issues were noted. The first concerned ‘cultural expectations’ – so the need for translators (and other parties) to be aware that what is seen to be acceptable in one country in terms of attitudes and perceptions of disability may be very different in another. The second concerned language, and the challenges of finding suitable alternatives in the English language, which would hold sufficiently similar meanings and also sit comfortably for UK readers. In some cases, a word (or name) might have very specific connotations or associations would be lost in another language.
- The project has generated a Resource Guide, based on the workshops delivered. This will offer schools across the UK (and wider) a source of inspiration and tried-and-tested activity ideas.