Just Like Me
Little Steps, 2021
24pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
Zoe is delighted when a new girls starts at a her school and she is just like her. She has a favourite doll, a pet dog and a naughty little brother just like she does. It is lovely to have a friend with so much in common.
But the story in this story is in the illustrations rather than the words as the reader is likely to pick up that Zoe’s new friend is not quite like her. Or they may not, depending on what they have been taught because this book is designed to demonstrate that little ones do not see difference like colour or disability. They see the way people are like them, rather than unlike them and that to look for difference is a learned behaviour.
But books like this can be a two-edged sword, thus moving them from their intended audience of little ones to use with older students because they can debate whether such books actually teach young ones to look for difference in their peers. With the words saying one thing and the illustrations another so the message of the book is grasped, does this then contribute to that learning about difference? If they didn’t see it then, will they look for it now? Or does it just consolidate that it doesn’t matter – kids are kids everywhere? Food for thought.