Inclusion alphabet: ABCs for everyone
Review by Jill Proops, mum to a child with additional needs
Kathryn Jenkins (2018), The Inclusion Project
Inclusion Alphabet: ABC’s for everyone is a picture book which guides the reader through some key features of inclusion.
Each letter of the alphabet is used to help define an aspect of inclusion. Intertwined with the letters are some illustrative stories – a boy who is different but whose friends and family encourage him to try new things; a girl who is different and whose teacher discusses inclusion in class and encourages young pupils to be kind; a man who approaches a stranger who is different and starts a conversation about the issues faced by the stranger.
Having a young son with autism, inclusion is a regular subject of discussion in our house as we try to have our son included in various groups and activities. However, as this book makes clear, true inclusion is more than simply being allowed to take part. Amongst other things, it encompasses acceptance of, and respect for, others who are different and a belief that everyone can be capable, full of potential and of value to the world.
This book got me thinking, and I realised that even with the continual attempts to have our son physically included, we had never really moved past that initial stage of inclusion. We never gave much thought to how we could encourage others towards the other aspects of inclusion that are outlined in Jenkins’ book – for example, the acceptance of his differences, and the belief that he has potential.
I can understand that inclusion in its entirety can seem quite daunting. However, the way Jenkins has broken it down into small parts may encourage people to at least have a go. Even if it just means that they start to look at people’s differences in a more empathetic way. I think that will be a win for everyone.
Although this book appears to be aimed at primary school aged children, I feel it will actually be of benefit to people of all ages. Inclusion Alphabet is a good way to begin a discussion with others about what they think inclusion entails, and how they might bring about some inclusion of people in their schools or community.