Today is the book birthday of Sense of Play! This story was ten years (and a lifetime) in the making.
Everyone’s childhood experiences are unique. My brother Derek and I were close in age, about three years apart, and we played together a lot. In every corner and room in the house, around every tree and rock in our yard, up and down our driveway and dead-end street. Dana and Derek—we were quite a pair.
Derek is blind, and as kids, this was simply another one of his traits—he was mischievous, he had brown hair, he didn’t like ketchup, his favorite number was 12, and he was blind. (I was a rule-follower, also had brown hair, loved ketchup, liked 7, and had sight.)
I had no idea at the time, but Derek was one of the early beneficiaries of the 1975 Education of all Handicapped Children Act that guaranteed him the right to a public-school education. So he attended our local elementary school, and experienced a childhood with lots of support, inclusion, and joy. Behind the scenes, my parents were strong advocates, and he certainly faced some challenges related to his blindness. These arose mostly from society’s lack of accessibility for anyone “different.”
Today, books for children have a responsibility to act as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. I wanted to contribute in a meaningful way. While I am not in the position to represent a community of people to which I do not belong, I can offer my story of a brother and sister at play.
This book started as a poem of memories. It went through many drafts. It came to life at the hands of the editor, art director, and team at Capstone editions and through the colorful and textured illustrations of Doruntina Beqiraj. I have so many people to thank for guiding this story into the world, most of all Derek, and all the snickers, giggles, tears, games, music, and silliness of our childhood.
We all have unique stories to tell about our childhoods. What’s yours?