Thank you to Samantha Cotterill for stopping by Kid Lit Frenzy and sharing her inspiration for the Little Senses books.
Little Senses was created out of a need for something I wish I had access to as a in my younger years ...a series of books purposefully void of any qualitative adjectives or labels that might otherwise turn away a reader who needs it most. These books introduce topics in an approachable way, often using light touches of humor to keep the reader engaged while offering tools to help maneuver overwhelming moments.
The inspiration to create Little Senses came mostly out of my own experiences as a child growing up with Asperger’s, as well as those close to me who view the world similarly. It was important to create stories that were both entertaining and educational, while ultimately giving the reader a feeling of being “heard” and understood.
I grew up in the late 70’s/80’s where autism wasn’t known or understood the way it is today, and most definitely not on the radar during the formative years of my childhood. I was just a very awkward kid who had a lot of “issues”. I felt like an alien trying desperately to fit in and belong, often being teased and bullied by others for my “odd” or “weird” behaviors. Little did I know that the struggles I faced both at home and school were because of my autism, and as a result, I often blamed myself by constantly wondering What is wrong with me? Why don’t I like hugging my parents and sister ? Why do I get so agitated when someone turns on a ceiling light or uses metal cutlery? Why the need to suddenly escape when entering a crowded mall? Why do sock seams digging into my toes and sleeves creasing under my sweater hurt so much? Why is it so hard to develop and maintain friendships? (you get the picture). I worked so hard to manage simple daily tasks and even harder to fit in socially, often mimicking the way the girls in my class talked and dressed...desperate to feel a sense of belonging. I became a chameleon, reflecting the “colors” of personalities around me with such success that I started to lose sense of who I was. I struggled. And felt alone. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college at 19 years of age did I receive a general autism diagnosis, and a further 25 years later before receiving my current diagnoses.
If I could go back in time and give young Samantha these stories, I can only imagine the impact it would have had on her own emotional well being of feeling understood in a world that seemed so foreign and confusing. Seeing a character just like oneself takes away feelings of estrangement, and replaces it with the sentiment of belongingness. Add to that the understanding and awareness it would raise for those around that child (e.g., caregivers ,siblings and classmates), and one can hopefully create an entire support system of encouragement and acceptance in a safe and loving environment .
A bit about the first two stories
Nope. Never. Not for Me! and This Beach is Loud! are the first two books from Little Senses that tackles the stresses that can occur from trying new foods and traveling to new places.
Nope. Never. Not for Me! focusses on the introduction and exploration of one food, which is unlike many other children’s books that instead center around a variety of food within one story. Under the tent of subtle humour, this story takes a young child on a journey of food discovery with the guidance of a calm and encouraging parent, ultimately letting go of the conventional ways we have often become accustomed to when dealing with a "picky eater". There is no stress. No pressure. Just freedom for the child to realistically react, respond, and explore.
In This Beach is Loud! , we follow a young boy on his first adventure to the Beach with his dad. Even with the preparations ahead of the big day, we see hints of nerves as he “excitedly” talks the entire ride to the shore. While the beach may not look extremely busy to many a neurotypical viewer, it looks overwhelming to our young boy. Add new textures and unexpected sounds, it can suddenly all become way too much. Luckily Dad has a few tricks up his sleeve to help his son conquer these moments and get that special day he was longing for.
About the author: Samantha Cotterill is an illustrator and textile designer. She works and resides with her family in Upstate New York.
Check out the other posts in the Autism and Sensory Learning Campaign.
WEEK ONE: I AM NOT A FOX
June 4 – What’s a Kid to Read – Review + Instagram
June 5 – Bookoholic Mom – Creative Instagram Picture
June 6 – Little Earthling Blog – Helping kids understand and embrace their differences
June 7 – Bookwormommyof3 – Creative Instagram Picture
WEEK TWO: BABY DRAGON, BABY DRAGON
June 11 – Inspiration Laboratories – Dragon themed sensory activity
June 12 – YA Books Central – Review + Instagram Content
June 13 – Dream Reader Kids – Review + Picture
June 14 – Miss M’s Kindergarten – Hyperactivity in young students and building awareness
WEEK THREE: LITTLE SENSES (THIS BEACH IS LOUD! and NOPE! NEVER! NOT FOR ME!)
June 18 – Kid Lit Frenzy – Author Guest Post: Her inspiration, research process, and recommended resources
June 19 – For Mommy’s Dragons – Listicle: Top 5 Reasons why I love the series
June 20 – Happily Ever Elephants – Listicle: Picture Books with/about Neurodiverse characters
June 21 – Picturebookplaydate – Creative Instagram Picture