Saturday, April 2, 2011

2nd April Hans Christian Andersen (1805 - 1875) International Children's Book Day Amy Schwartz World Autism Day

Today is International Children's Book Day in honour of Hans Christian Andersen's birthday and as usual IBBY has produced a poster. This year's theme is The Book Remembers and it is by Estonian illustrator Juri Mildeberg.

It is also Amy Schwartz's birthday. She is an American author illustrator whose work I know very little about as
I have only seen a couple of her books. The library has What James Likes Best, which won the 2004 Charlotte Zolotow Award. This is a great honour, given that it is awarded to the author of the best picture book text published in the USA in the
preceding year. It seems as if we should have more of her books!

Thirdly, it is World Autism Day, also known as World Autism Awareness Day. The aim of this day is to increase people's awareness about people, especially children with autism. This is becoming easier to do using children's books because of titles such as Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Cynthia Lord's Rules. Although many of the books for younger children are still overly didactic anything by Kathy Hoopman who writes about Asperger's Syndrome is worth exploring and the picture book Looking After Louis by Lesley Ely and Polly Dunbar is especially good for looking at the consequences of mainstreaming children with autism and thus increasing tolerance of difference. This story is told from the point of view of a girl who sits next to Louis, an autistic boy who is a loner, repeats things he hears, mimicks adults and gets away with behaviour that wouldn't be tolerated from the other children. This book should help initiate good discussion. Another picture book worth searching out is My Brother Sammy by Becky Edwards and David Armitage. In this story Sammy does not go to a mainstream class and he is constantly ruining his brother's things. His brother just wants Sammy to be a 'normal' brother.

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