For World Book Day author Emily Ann Davison discusses her new book – Every Bunny is a Yoga Bunny – and how retinoblastoma has impacted story time over her lifetime.
I was ten weeks old when I was diagnosed with Bilateral Retinoblastoma. It wasn’t a huge surprise to my parents, as my Dad had also had Retinoblastoma as a child, and they knew it was hereditary. I had hospital treatment for the first four years of my life, which involved regular check ups under anaesthetic, laser treatment and radioactive plaque treatment. I carried on having yearly check-ups at St Bartholomew’s hospital for a number of years. As a result of the tumours and the treatment I had, I have limited vision in my left eye and have sensitivity to light.
Growing up, Retinoblastoma was just a part of my life, as I didn’t know anything different. However, I did always feel different to other children and was a very shy and self-conscious child. For me, I think books provided a bit of an escape. My Mum often tells me how she would go down into the library at St Barts Hospital and find books to read to me, during my stays at hospital.
As I grew up, books continued to play an important part in my life. I have lots of memories of my Mum reading bedtime stories to me and my brother. My Dad had a prosthetic eye and in his remaining eye, he had just a small amount of vision. It would have been difficult for my Dad to share stories with us at bedtime, due to his eyesight. However, I remember listening to stories playing on audio cassette tapes with him.
I also really enjoyed writing stories and songs as a child. It’s not really a huge surprise then that as a grown up, I returned to my love of writing. Over the past few years, I developed a passion for children’s books and began writing my own. It is very exciting to say that my first picture book is being published in March 2022. It is called Every Bunny is a Yoga Bunny and is beautifully illustrated by Deborah Allwright. The story is about yoga, calm and mindfulness and features an excitable bunny called Yo-Yo! It is being published by Nosy Crow, in collaboration with The National Trust.
Books have the power to transport children to different worlds and build a lifelong love for reading. It is really important that children’s books are accessible to ALL children. There can be a number of barriers that prevent access, sight loss in children and/or their carers is one of them.
Nowadays, there are so many fantastic organisations who are helping make books accessible for families where a family member lives with sight loss. My debut picture book is published by Nosy Crow. All of Nosy Crow’s paperback picture books come with a free digital audio reading, accessed by scanning a QR code inside of them. This accessibility can make such a difference to families affected by Retinoblastoma.
Nosy Crow is just one of many organisations helping make books more accessible with regards to sight loss, other organisations include:
Every Bunny is a Yoga Bunny publishes on World Book Day, 3rd March 2022.