What a wholesome week it has been!
Stuart is a best-selling children's author who writes books to help empower children and promote inclusivity. This week, whilst reading his brand spankin' new book, 'My Shadow is Purple,' with some of our children in music therapy sessions, it has done exactly that.
Not only has the book encouraged these kids to think 'outside the box' if you will, it has also left some young ones feeling empowered and with a sense of inclusion that we were able to capitalise upon even further with music after the book was read!
I have two short tales from these children to share with you, that left me feeling hopeful for the generations ahead. Hopeful that they will pave the way for inclusion far better than previous generations. Yes, Australia has come a long way since I was a youngun' but there's still SO MUCH more that we can do to promote inclusion, acceptance and respect for all cultures, genders and disabilities ~ essentially any minority groups!
Tale 1: A young autistic girl who we will call 'Sally,' is a very intelligent 8 year old who loves to read. We often incorporate songwriting and reading exercises into the session to complement one another and give her ideas for her songwriting material, as well as to work on learning about rhyming, sequencing and sentence structures.
This week was no exception, with Sally presented with two choices of books (we are also practising decision-making) and being drawn in by none other than 'My Shadow is Purple.' As always, Sally confidently made her way through the book, noticing rhymes and themes, and relaying the information presented to her enthusiastically. We flipped the page to a beautiful illustration of the stories protagonist wearing a dress and suit ready to attend the school dance. At this moment, Sally exclaimed enthusiastically - "They're a THEY!"
My whole heart exploded and I felt so proud of someone at the ripe age of 8 fully comprehending the meaning of the book, and easily able to identify the character's implied gender. This story here is testament to the families, and few truly inclusive primary schools that educate young people on ALL types of individuals who make up this big crazy world ~ advocating, educating and empowering children to accept one another for who they truly are.
Tale 2: I've recently started sessions with a regular client of mine's son, who we will call "Lee." Lee too, is an autistic young boy who is 7 years old, and unlike Sally, isn't necessarily too fussed on books... however he seemed quite intrigued by 'My Shadow is Purple,' so I obliged and helped him sound out some of the words to read it!
Halfway through the book, there is a line that reads:
"I'm ready to rock, and I'm feeling cute!
My Mum made my skirt, and my Dad made my suit."
At which point, Lee turns to me and shyly says, "You know... sometimes I like to wear dresses too." I excitedly validated this confession, and we went back to reading the book. Little did I know, that this was actually a big step for him to feel accepted as himself.
Later in the day, coincidentally I also had a session with his Mum, who we will call "Bridie." I shared with them how his session had been earlier, and I brought up his confession, knowing full well that Bridie would support and accept this part of his identity. As I expected, Bridie started chuckling as I recounted the story, with us both agreeing that Lee lives with such an inclusive, supportive family that he need not worry. Bridie did extend upon this, saying that it has only been recently that Lee has shared this with her - that sometimes he does like to play with 'girls toys' and dress up. Bridie shared that in this moment, Lee also said that he was concerned what his Dad might think of him if he found out. Once again, Bridie and I chuckled knowingly, agreeing that his Dad would also support and love him just the same. Lee is lucky that he has such a beautiful, supportive family who do accept him unconditionally. In time, hopefully he will find the confidence to share these parts of himself with those around him.
So it might've been only a small part of his day, but by reading 'My Shadow is Purple,' with Lee, this just might have validated a small, or even a big part of who he is. If in reading this book, it has helped him feel a little more accepted, then both Scott Stuart's work, as well as my own has well and truly paid off on that particular day!
There is nothing I love more than helping others feel accepted and empowered. So thank you to Scott Stuart for creating a beautiful story that really does help generate those conversation-starters with young readers ~ I'm sure that this book has already helped so many of them!
For anyone interested in grabbing a copy yourself, follow this link: