Children at Letham Mains Primary School took part in a special storytime with a local author to celebrate difference and diversity.
Trudy and Me is a children's picture book set in Portobello that shares the perspective of Patrick (age 4) who is big brother to Trudy (aged 2) who has Down's Syndrome. The book is written and illustrated by Bridget Campbell who worked with her friend, Lauren Eliott Lockhart, whose children are the subject of the book.
Ms Campbell visited Letham Mains Primary School today to meet with children from P1 and P2/3 classes. The children were captivated during the storytelling session and had an opportunity to learn some Makaton signs, a language programme that uses symbols and signs, to go along with the text. Children also took part in an art activity relating to the illustrations and there was a time for questions and discussion at the end.
Joyful celebration of difference
Ms Campbell explains: “Trudy and Me is a joyful exploration of Patrick and Trudy's relationship and aims to acknowledge and celebrate difference. We have also sought to include lots of information about Down's Syndrome in the back of the book in order to inform and educate.
“Lauren and I were motivated to create the book as we recognised that children with disabilities are under-represented in literature and this is something that we passionately wanted to help change.”
The book combines beautifully detailed watercolour illustrations with photographs of Patrick and Trudy at home, at the beach and in a play park. The poem, written from Patrick’s perspective, explains all of the fun activities that he and Trudy enjoy and all of the things that make Trudy who she is. As the book explains: “Some say Trudy’s different / and maybe that is true. She’s got an extra chromosome / what’s that to me and you?”.
Letham Mains Primary School Head Teacher Bruce Murray said: “We were delighted to help promote this wonderful book. It’s vitally important that children can celebrate similarities and celebrate differences. The book is simple but thought-provoking and does that wonderful thing of allowing young children to begin to understand others’ perspectives. Our children loved it!”
Ms Campbell and Mrs Eliott Lockhart launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to produce the book and have been able to donate copies of the book to schools, libraries and charities across the UK. They have donated 50 copies to East Lothian’s primary schools and specialist provisions to spread their messages of understanding and representation.
Beautiful and informative
Clare McGarr from East Lothian Council’s Education Inclusion and Wellbeing Service said: “We were absolutely delighted to be gifted these books that celebrate diversity in such a beautiful and informative way. Inclusion is at the heart of every decision we make in East Lothian and we have really focused on improving universal practice in our schools this year. When school staff create welcoming and adaptable learning spaces with children like Trudy in mind, it benefits everyone.
“The use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), like the Makaton and Signalong supported activities the children enjoyed today, is the kind of strategy that is necessary for some but useful for all. We will continue to support our schools to develop their inclusive practice, improving the school experience for all learners and their families.”
Find out more online: www.trudyandme.co.uk