Where are all the disabled people in children's picture books? This article will introduce an innovative three-year project, based in the United Kingdom, which asks this question of the book world. In The Picture, managed by disability charity Scope, aims to point out the invisibility of disabled people in children's media to publishers, writers and illustrators. The project seeks to ensure that disabled children can find themselves represented in books and other children's media. We will map out here the rationale for the project and what it has set out to do. Drawing on an initial evaluation of the project's impact, which has involved interviews and focus group discussions with parents, librarians, teachers and children, we will go on to suggest what this kind of project can teach those of us working in early years settings about supporting inclusion and equality through children's literature and media. We conclude, that there simply aren't enough good, inclusive picture books in print. Everyone working in the early years sector can play a role in fostering a market for such books by alerting publishers and booksellers of the need for more of them, as well as actively seeking out those books that are in print for inclusion in their own libraries and nursery collections. We argue that rather than being offered information about "special" people in a separate library of non-fiction books, all children benefit from the casual inclusion of disabled characters as part of their everyday 'diet' of fiction. Finally, we suggest that the way in which books that represent disability are made available to children in early years settings requires some thinking, but need not generate such nervousness that it prevents action.
- Disabled people