Mojo will never run around a playground. She approaches toys very differently to most three year olds negotiating carefully with her right hand and almost always giving in to the compulsion to put it straight into her mouth. Watch her with a toy or in a playground or painting and drawing and her complex needs are evident, her disabilities are obvious.
But watch her at the library and there you have a very different proposition. Watch her turning the pages of her favourite book, signing away, knowing what is coming on the next page. Watch her choosing carefully from the shelves examining each picture and absorbing the variety of book sizes and shapes and colours. Here there are no boundries, no disability. Don’t get me wrong the effort it takes her to turn each page is enormous the reaching out to make choices takes time but every step is worth the reward of a new book adventure each time. Mojo’s library card is dog eared and I love that. It’s well used. She loves the library.
|Books in the waiting room|
Books were one of the first things she ever engaged with. At first with the textures, colours and shapes and then the pictures and now, the stories. Books can provide comfort when almost nothing else will. In hospital treatment rooms often nurses or play specialists try and distract Mojo with flashy toys or teddies in general this is greeted with a disdainful
look (I’m not stupid and I know what you’re about to do) A book however is greeted warmly (well I suppose if you’re going to do it this will stop me thinking about it while you do). A book keeps her company in a hospital bed when everything hurts and she feels horrible. In fact when I walk into any medical appointment with her and I see books in the room I know we will be okay.
Books help to explain the world in way that we never could without them. Books about getting a
baby sister, books about going to hospital, books about starting nursery. Barriers are broken down and life is made easier for someone whose understanding of the world is hard to quantify.
It’s not just for the bad times that books come into their own. Books in our house dominate the good times. When we decorated the room for our new baby a story corner was created and filled with books and interactive stories (Stories told with props to bring it alive, amazing idea and really easy to do with some sensory bits and bobs)
|EVERY night without fail|
At bed time when Mojo is often as her most uncomfortable and distressed a book provides the bridge from screaming and writhing to settling and breathing easy. Next to her bed is a pile of well thumbed (and occasionally bitten) books along with the complete Beatrix Potter collection which work, on occasions, like spoken melatonin, half way through Squirrel Nutkin and the eyes get heavy and often I find I’m reading the end of the story to myself!
I love the idea of Mojo learning to read. It excites me, the doors it will open and the freedom it will give her to explore worlds and perspectives that might otherwise be impossible for her to experience.
So here’s to World Book Day and all the costumes and the reading and the stories brought to life. Here’s to all the writers of all the books that are motivating enough to make Mojo reach out to turn the pages. Here’s to all the doors books will open for Mojo and all the joy they bring her each time she sits down to read. Here’s to people like the tremendous author and illustrator Quentin Blake campaigning for better representation of children with disabilities in mainstream literature for children and young adults. It would be nice to know that rather than having to seek out specialist books we could find characters Mojo can identify with in her favourite books.
So here it is my love letter to books and all the amazingness they hold in their enticing pages.