Our experience of reading is quite straightforward - we go into a bookshop or library, buy or borrow a book, find a comfortable chair and immerse ourselves in the world created by the words.
However, for many people, this experience is not easy or straightforward. For people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, the words read from a book alone mean little. For some, even the pictures hold no interest. So, should we write off books as an experience some of our fellows just can't have?
|'The Captain's Hat'|
I was made aware of a charity called Bag Books through an appeal on radio 4 back in May. Bag Books have a team of people creating a different kind of storybook for those who cannot enjoy a traditional book. The books themselves are unbound large pieces of card, each page with a different object that represents that part of the story. Specially trained storytellers read each page, whilst involving each person individually with the object. This can mean assisting someone to push a button, feel a texture or produce a sound.
Through this wonderful charity, children and adults with learning disabilities can experience the world of a story in a way that is engaging, fun, and encourages personal development.
The other day, I was reading a story to a client. The book had pictures, which she was quite interested in, though her eyesight hindered her a little. So I encouraged her to feel the textures of the pictures, used different tones to communicate the atmosphere of the story and made some of the sounds in the story. She loved getting involved with the story using her other senses. It's amazing how the way in which you present a story can have such a profound effect on how it is received.
This experience made me realise just how important people like Bag Books are. They provide awareness of the needs of those with learning disabilities whilst also providing for them and bringing alive the story telling world. Visit them at www.bagbooks.org and see for yourself the wonderful work they do.