Preston Women publishes collection of inspiring children’s books on disability and difference

Joanne and Michelle with Bertie the Very Blind Bat – one of the first books in the “A Little Different” series

A Preston woman is inspiring others to reflect on their own personal differences through her collection of disability and difference-based children’s books.

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Joanne Moore has been working on the “The Bit Different” series for the past seven years and has published two books so far.

the author told Blog Preston The main message behind the collection is to convey the importance of creating an inclusive environment from an early age.

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Joanne decided to write these books after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Her youngest daughter at the time couldn’t understand why she couldn’t get out of bed at times and struggled with what other parents could do because she looked “normal.”

Joanne said: “I just remember having to sleep a lot and most of it in the morning.

“At some point, I don’t want her to think I’m lazy, I want to explain to her that I have the disease without scaring her.”

“Then it got me thinking about how other people, parents and children, have medical problems or differences, and maybe they want a book series focused on personality differences to introduce to their children.”

Joanne Moore plans to release more children's books on disability and difference
Joanne Moore plans to release more children’s books on disability and difference

Bertie The Very Blind Bat is the author’s first book, published in December 2021. It tells the story of a bat who sees himself as a super bat, even though he gets into a tricky situation because of his blindness.

Joanne says the book raises awareness of blindness: “It’s all about focusing on Bertie’s skills and how brave he is, even though he’s blind, he uses his senses to help him in specific situations. “

Joanne told Blog Preston The book received a lot of attention as she was contacted by a number of blind charities, one parent in particular.

She said: “When the book was first published, I was contacted by a parent who sent me a lovely message about her son, who had just been diagnosed with a disease that meant he would eventually go blind.

“She said I couldn’t wait to read him the book and thank you for bringing it out so I could be prepared and make him realise he’s still special no matter what.”

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Crosby The Not So Snappy Crocodile is the second book, recently published this July. This book is about behavioral differences and touches on topics like anti-bullying, self-acceptance, and discovering your own special skills.

The story focuses on a crocodile that is not a typical crocodile.As Joanne said, he is gentle, kind, and likes to do good things Blog Preston The lesson is that you don’t have to conform to stereotypes or norms.

The 40-year-old, a former A-level teacher and pastor, noticed some behavior from his students. “If you see a student who’s a little lonely, or if a student comes and tells you they’re not fitting in or being bullied, you want to remove that,” she said.

“Having kids think about inclusion, maybe reflecting on their own differences and making them think you know how different I am, really worries me, but it’s actually okay for people to know and accept me.

“I just have to accept myself that no matter what problems people have, I want to include them and have the confidence to ask someone if they have a medical problem.

“Having a chance I’ve read a book on this, I’d ask rather than feel a little anxious or bored to promote inclusivity encourages kindness and acceptance.”

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The book’s illustrator, Michelle Gmel, met Joanne in college, and the two have been friends for over two decades since then. She designed Bertie with two coloured eyes and even personalised the cover of the first book, which Joanne said was a good gesture as she shares the same traits herself.

Michelle told Blog Preston On her role: “I’ve been a designer for many years and have designed various products, but this is the first time I’ve illustrated a children’s book.

“The trickiest part is creating the protagonist.

“The reader has to really connect with them and feel all the emotions they’re going through. Once you have the character, the rest of the illustrations seem to fit together nicely.”

Joanne is now looking forward to releasing more of her work in the near future. The goal is to have a collection of six to eight books – each focusing on a different disability and difference.

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