RNIB reimagines fairy tale to highlight the lack of disabled role-models in children’s books

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has reimagined a classic fairy tale to highlight the need for more disability representation in children’s literature. 

The new book, Red and the Wolf, is a version of Little Red Riding Hood which includes a young girl with vision impairment as the main character. The main character uses a long cane and is highly skilled at martial arts. 

Positive role models

Deborah Fajerman, Red and the Wolf author says: “I was overjoyed to get this storytelling opportunity with RNIB because I’ve worked for many years in disability organisations, writing about and talking to people with sight loss and other disabilities.

“I think that reading this picture book with a young child is a great way to create some space where they can look and ask questions. Obviously, this story is not going to show what the daily reality is for any one child with sight loss, but we can make it something that’s ok to talk about.”

Aimed at children aged from three to seven, the book is also available in accessible formats. It is hoped that the book will shine a light on the lack of positive role models with disabilities in literature. 

Chloe Tear who is visually impaired and is a disability blogger and writer, has experienced this first hand. Chloe says: “It is so refreshing to see a blind character within a children’s book.

“The lack of representation causes disabled children to not feel included. I love how they have included the use of a long cane; this will really empower disabled children and teach others.

“This book is normalising disability and despite being 22 years old, this is exactly what I need.”

Awareness and understanding

When developing the new book, RNIB conducted research amongst parents and grandparents which found that more than three quarters wanted to increase children’s awareness and understanding of disabilities. 

The research also found that more than 80 per cent said they wanted to help children be more empathetic towards others, and nearly all wanted to build children’s confidence to overcome challenges. 

RNIB head of innovation and development, Caroline Beard, says: “Some of our earliest perceptions of the world are shaped the books we read as children.

“It is essential that children see disability as natural from an early age, gain an understanding of difference, and can help all children, including those with disabilities feel included in society.

“We launched Red and the Wolf to refresh a classic story and turn it into something that celebrates difference. We hope that many children will enjoy reading about Red and how she overcomes the barriers she faces.”

World record

To help draw more attention to this issue, RNIB wants families to help set a Guinness World Record title for the most photos of people holding books uploaded to Facebook in one hour. The challenge will take place on Thursday 10 December on the charity’s Facebook page. 

To take part, families are being asked to take a photo of themselves reading Red and the Wolf and post it to the page between 6pm and 7pm. The record will be measured by the number of people who upload a photo of themselves, or their families, within the hour. 

Adam Brown is head of records at Guinness World Records, he says: “Inclusiveness is a value that Guinness World Records holds very dear and the RNIB’s work in challenging discrimination and ensuring that all children with disabilities feel positively represented in the books they read and in society in general, is incredibly important.

“Their aim to achieve a Guinness World Records title reflects their dedication to this cause and we look forward to adjudicating their record attempt on the day.”

Red and the Wolf is available to purchase now from ReadAlong. All formats of Red and the Wolf include audio and special sound effects which are designed to enable children to ‘read along’ with the story, helping young readers to enjoy the story independently.

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