Understanding Disability

Our theme for May 2021 is Understanding Disability, and our picturebook of the month is ‘Freddie and the Fairy’ written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Karen George and published by Macmillan Children’s Books. The story is about a boy called Freddie. “Freddie is desperate for a pet, so when he rescues a fairy called Bessie-Belle and she offers to grant his wishes, he knows just what to ask for. The only problem is that Bessie-Belle can’t hear very well, and Freddie tends to mumble … Whatever can they do?”

Our picturebook of the month ‘Freddie and the Fairy’ deals with deafness and thus links the UK’s Deaf Awareness Week 2021 which takes place in April. If you have been working with our PEPELT mini e-lessons you will know that some have an additional signed read-aloud by Leanne Signed Stories. Leanne’s videos promote diversity, inclusion and awareness of British Sign Language (BSL) in mainstream classes that may not have deaf pupils in them in order to make classes more deaf aware. Check here to access the lessons and learn a few signs with your class. If you are wondering about how to introduce our theme of the month ‘understanding disability’ and ‘deaf-awareness’, have a look at these posters shared by Leanne’s Signed Stories. Perhaps they could become a stepping stone?

The attached article offers a great introduction to our theme and the story behind our picturebook of the month:

Front cover:
Very rich. Presents
the main characters, but also
the different animals that
appear in the picturebook, and
the concept of rhyming (cat –
cat; dog – frog; mouse – louse
etc). It also presents the tree
where Freddie meets the Fairy
as well as the kite which she
gets tangled in.

Back cover:
is a continuation of
the front cover, so open it out
so that you can really talk about
the whole illustration.

Front and back endpapers:
Decorative, representing the
louse. Return to these after the
first read-aloud and identify the
louse.

Title page: One whole spread.

The title is written in Freddie’s
thought bubble, and there is a
kite flying high in the sky – point
to this and wonder together
about it being lost. It is the kite
that tangles Bessie-Belle the

Disability literacy:
Becoming aware of the skills
required for effective
communication which are
inclusive for all people and
especially for people who are
deaf or hard of hearing.
Understanding the lived
reality of deafness and
empathising with different
feelings and emotions.

Literary literacy:
Recognising narrative and
dialogue;
Becoming aware of rhyme;
Predicting rhyming words;
Creating rhyming pairs;
Acting out the story.

fairy in the next opening. The
children might make that
connection, an dit can be
suggested upon re-reading.
Dedication and copyright
information are in a scroll
hanging from the tree branch.
Return to this after the first
read-aloud, as it replicates the
scrolls of the Three rules that
Freddie learns. The fairy
mother is featured on it too…
Lots to notice and to make
connections within the peritext,
so you and the children will be

Our picturebook of the month focuses on interaction – disability etiquette. I begin this film by citing that one of the challenges faced by many children is understanding how to interact with people with disabilities (https://bit.ly/347pRxl). And so I wonder what student teachers know about interacting with people with disabilities? After reading ‘Freddie and the Fairy’ with student teachers, the pages which show how children should not interact become my starting point. In this film, I refer to a book we shared on fb last week: https://bit.ly/3bNvPYI and a film which I would share with student teachers (Disability Sensitivity Training): https://bit.ly/3yBN49g by RespectAbility.

.

Disability literacy:
Becoming aware of the skills
required for effective
communication which are
inclusive for all people and
especially for people who are
deaf or hard of hearing.
Understanding the lived
reality of deafness and
empathising with different
feelings and emotions.

Literary literacy:
Recognising narrative and
dialogue;
Becoming aware of rhyme;
Predicting rhyming words;
Creating rhyming pairs;
Acting out the story

Additional Suggestions

What happened to YOU

Here is a picturebook suggestion which supports our theme of the month ‘understanding disabilities’ and is suitable for the PELT classroom. It is called ‘What happened to YOU?’ and is written by James Catchpole, illustrated by Karen George and published by Faber & Faber (2021). You might have noticed that Karen George is also the illustrator of our picturebook of the month.
Image:

This book tells the story of a boy with one leg and addresses how a disabled child might want to be spoken to: “James Catchpole, who had a leg amputated when he was four months old, said that he hoped the book would help readers “walk a mile in Joe’s shoe”. He added: “There’s a real need for books that genuinely reflect a disabled person’s perspective, for both disabled and able-bodied readers. I hope my book can give an insider’s perspective and speak to the experience of being a visibly disabled child. The reality for those children is often that of continually being made to feel different from everyone else, by the question ‘What happened to you?’” (from: https://bit.ly/2S7HOJp%7C)

Have a listen to James read his picturebook, his read-aloud skills are quite a treat. And if you want to include this book in your PELT lesson, have a look at the following lesson plan which focuses on helping children understand how to interact with people with disabilities :