‘We want everyone to feel included’: Beaconsfield library shows off new collection of adapted books

The adapted books collection at the Beaconsfield library. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. David Sedell

A few hundred new books, spines uncracked, have graced the shelves of the Beaconsfield library.

“They’re for all age groups,” said librarian Julia Gilbert of the new arrivals. “We have books for young children, as well as school-age children in the form of novels. We have picture books, comic books and also books for teens.”

But what makes these books unique isn’t the fact that they’re new but that they are adapted for those with specific learning difficulties or developmental challenges.

For example, some books are printed using a special font called Dyslexie.

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As the name implies, the font makes it easier for those with dyslexia to read by making it easier to see the way words are made, Gilbert explained.

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“So it’s easier to distinguish the letters and there’s more spacing between the letters as well,” she said.

The library also boasts an online database called BibliOdyssée. It includes digital books in French available in a FROG format.

FROG books, according to the maker, are “customizable to individual needs.” That means the reader can change the font size, add syllable highlighting, access definitions or use audio support.

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Gilbert said the library has ongoing programs with two local schools that cater to special needs students, with the collection tailored not only to meet their needs but that of their families, too.

“We’re continuing to develop the parents side of the collection as well,” she said. “So if your child has a developmental disorder or a condition or is is not neurotypical, it’s a collection you can turn to as well.”

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Gilbert explained the new collection is part of a city-wide action plan aimed at achieving universal accessibility.

“So we have a plan for our parks, we have a plan for our buildings, but also for our library collection, because we want everyone to feel included,” she said.

Gilbert says it’s about fostering a sense of belonging.

“It’s important for everyone to feel welcome at the library, and we want kids and families to see themselves in these books.”

It’s also about creating opportunities for learning.

“Everyone has challenges, some are different …. it’s important to learn more about them,” she said, “…and to get other kids to understand what it’s like to live with a condition.”

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