See What I Can Do!

Today marks the publication of See What I Can Do!, written by Jon Roberts and illustrated by Hannah Rounding. Find out more below:

Every child is different. Some are loud, they love talking and showing off. Others are quiet and like to be on their own. Some have differences that you can see, while others have differences that may not be so obvious. We are all unique. We all have our own lives, our own dreams, and our own talents. Let’s see what we can do.

In this gently-told but immensely informative new picture book Jon Roberts tells the stories of a number of children with a variety of differences inspired by the real-life experiences of his daughter, Kya who is on the autistic spectrum, and some of her friends.

A variety of conditions, including autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD, Down's Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, epilepsy and asthma are introduced for young readers, discussing 

how the challenges of each affect children both in a school setting and outside and how they engage in activities they love. 

The book explores an array of characters all living with different conditions. When we asked Jon about where these stories came from, he wrote "I didn’t want to make the stories up myself as it is impossible to know what it is like to have a disability unless you have a disability. Each story is direct from either the child themselves or from their parents. The only thing I changed were their names."

The need to diverse and representative books for children is incredibly important. Not only should children see themselves represented in the books they are reading, but they should see books that portray people who may be different to themselves. Thats why See What I Can Do! is a really special project for us here at Graffeg. When discussing this with Jon, he wrote "Primary school children are at an age where they want to learn, they are interested in why other people behave or look or act differently. They are at an age where they have an innocent view on life, and I hope that if we can teach them about disability, diversity and inclusion in school it can have a positive impact on them."

When we asked Jon about why he wrote this book, he told us ‘After speaking to friends and family who have disabilities, we wanted to write this book to help raise awareness in school and at home and to share real-life stories direct from children from around the world’ 

See What I Can Do! is the third collaboration between Jon and Hannah. The pair first worked together back in 2017 on Through the Eyes of Me, a beautiful, colourful, illustrated book for children that allows a glimpse into the world of a child with autism. Two years later came the sequel Through the Eyes of Us.

Discussing the inspiration behind Through the Eyes of Me Jon tells us "My first book, Through the eyes of me is about my daughter, who at the age of 3 was diagnosed with Autism. The one thing that worried me the most when she started school was bullying. I know how children can be towards someone who is a little different from them. Kya doesn’t talk and can behave a bit differently to other children. She self stimulates or 'stims' by waving her hands a lot and sometimes pulls funny faces. I worried that other children might make fun of her. But when she started school we found that her class friends were more interested in why she did these little differences. They asked the teacher questions about Kya, which gave me the idea to write a Questions and Answers type book with illustrations answering their questions. This seemed a hit in school and after a little while I was lucky to have it published with Graffeg."

When we asked Jon about how times have changed since the publication of Through the Eyes of Me, he wrote “Since the book's release way back in 2017 I truly do believe that autism awareness has grown in the UK. More and more people seem to understand the difficulties that people who are autistic have to live with. It's great to see more characters on TV who are autistic and there is certainly an increase in books available for people to read about autism.”

It's great to see so many positive reviews coming in for See What I Can Do! already. Children's book specialist and blogger Mary Esther Judy writes 'Page after page of stories to encourage exploration and understanding of differences and ignite the determination and imagination of children, parents and teachers, this special book is a fantastic resource for the classroom or to share at home. Reassuring and informative, colourful and lively, positive, meaningful and truly delightful. This book is a joy!'

Teacher and children's book enthusiast Sarah Siggs who has had a career working with and learning from children who have a difference, writes “Teachers - you really ought to have this book in your classroom. Every one of you will have a child with a difference in your class or your school. This is the best book ever for explaining and championing those differences.”

The final review we'll leave you with is one by Professor Tom Shakespeare that summarises this book beautifully:

"An orchestra has many instruments that harmonise together to create a wonderful sound. Humans each have strengths and weaknesses, but we need them all to create a vibrant world. This book beautifully demonstrates that."

80% of royalties from the sale of this book will go towards the work of Scope and Sarah’s Trust.

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