During November, some bemix groups were given the opportunity to trial and review a new book, due to be released by Beyond Words. Beyond Words is a charity that creates books to support people who find pictures easier to understand than words. There are no words in the books they provide, only pictures. Our groups have been involved in trialling books in the past. We previously reviewed “Ginger is a Hero” which is all about a ginger cat who alerts its owner to go and help an elderly neighbour who has collapsed.

This time, the book we reviewed was all about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. The book was called “Having a Baby”. The aim of trialling the book was to find out if the pictures were easy to understand and if the story helped people to improve their understanding of the subject areas. It gave group members the opportunity to ask questions and share their own feelings or experiences on the subject, too.

Image: Illustration from draft copy of "Having A Baby". With thanks to Books Beyond Words

People with learning difficulties and/or autism are often left out from having a say about support or resources that impact them. This is why it is important to be included in processes such as this. Understanding how the book is received and gathering feedback means that decisions can be influenced by those who will read and be impacted by the topics within the books. 

"I found it quite interesting. The pictures give good examples of how to help if people can’t manage on their own." - Leila

In our different groups, we discussed what could be happening on each page of the book. Although some group members had not experienced pregnancy in the way that was depicted, we were able to discuss the feelings that may have been present for the person in the story. Pictures of the birth experience made some people feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. We also reflected on how the setting of the story made us feel positively - seeing medical posters on the wall felt inviting, like a church hall, rather than a GP surgery or a hospital.

bemix group book reviewers meet on Zoom to reflect on the book, "Having A Baby"

“Collecting feedback is a really important part of making a new Books Beyond Words story. Every book we make is reviewed by at least 50 people. This month, the (bemix) group volunteered to tell us what they think of our draft story about having a baby. They gave us lots of useful comments that will help us make the pictures clearer and easier to understand. Thank you!” - Hannah, Books Beyond Words

Overall, group members found the subject interesting and informative, learning things about pregnancy and childbirth that they had not known or understood, before.

"It's good for people like me. I can't read so the pictures make it easier. I found it quite good." - Emma

“It was very good and very interesting on what the book was about” - Gerard

“It was very Interesting. It was about childbirth. We worked through the book together, as a team”  - Stewart

We look forward to trialling another book from Beyond Words, soon!