Children’s books promote self-acceptance and inclusion

Phoebe Kirk (left) and Alice Reeves (right) with their Truth and Tails books at Waterstones, Brighton (Photograph:Adam Onishi)
Phoebe Kirk (left) and Alice Reeves (right) with their Truth and Tails books at Waterstones, Brighton (Photograph:Adam Onishi)

Gender, disability, fitting in and self worth are all themes which are addressed in four children’s books by a Brighton author.

Alice Reeves, along with illustrator Phoebe Kirk, decided to create stories tackling issues affecting young people.

Truth and Tails (Photograph:Adam Onishi)

Truth and Tails (Photograph:Adam Onishi)

The Truth and Tails books, which are aimed at four to eight-year-olds, include Molly the Mole, who feels sad because she doesn’t look the same as her friends, Vincent the Vixen, who comes to realise that they are actually a girl fox, Carlos the Chameleon, who changes his colours to try to fit in, and Roxy the Raccoon who uses a wheelchair, and whose friends help her discover ways she can be included.

Alice, who also runs BelongCon – a conference promoting inclusion and community – explained how the idea behind Truth and Tails came after reading children’s books which belonged to a friend.

“I was thumbing through them and thinking they were not really that great,” Alice said. “A lot of the books that stuck with me were the books that had a really strong message that made me feel happy or accepted.”

She decided she wanted to write meaningful books for children which tackle ‘hard-to-deal-with’ concepts in a clear and sensitive way.

“I was having a conversation about gender with someone, and I thought gender is not difficult, I’m sure I can explain it to a four-year-old. Vinnie the Vincent was the first idea I had.

“The reason it was so important for me to write about gender is I have a lot of trans friends, and I am just continually so shocked and appalled by the level of abuse they receive. In my first draft of the story I made so many mistakes in reference to the trans narrative. One of my trans friends said ‘don’t say it like that’. I took the criticism on.”

Alice felt it was also important to write about self-acceptance, as she believes it’s an issue that affects many children of school age.

“For Molly and Carlos it’s stuff that I, and a lot of my friends, have experienced,” Alice said. “Issues around comparing and changing yourself to fit in.”

The pair initially self-published the books, but they were released by Jessica Kinglsey Publishers in March.

The books, which are popular in schools, include teaching resources and discussion points.

To find out more, visit: www.truthandtails.com