In October last year the Breck Foundation released an announcement about a set of SEN books they were releasing. The third lockdown set back the original publication dates, but they will now be available for general release from Tuesday, 9 March.
The three levels of books are aimed at different cognitive mindsets, with the aim of explaining the story of Breck Bednar, and helping them to understand online safety.
This is Breck is a picture book for students with a mindset of 4+. This version deals less with the emotions arising from the story and more with the literal events, so it is ideal for autistic children. The sentence structure in the book is short and simple, making it accessible for early readers.
Mark wanted his illustrations to be as literal as possible, citing inspiration from the English author and illustrator Shirley Hughes. When he was introduced to Sydney Johnson, it was clear she was a perfect match. Her beautiful watercolour artwork brought the story to life in a simple, yet effective way.
Breck and the Online Troll is a picture book for students with the mindset of 7+. The language used within the story is simple enough for emerging and independent readers. Mark wanted to start to get some of the emotions that are embedded within the story of Breck's grooming to support and develop emotional understanding.
This is a story of two halves: the first part is a story of knights, trolls and adventure which then, in the second half, twists around to a real life scenario, where the images and storyline run parallel to the first half.
While writing the story, Mark had images in his head of what the pages should look like. When he first met illustrator Eve Yarnton she had the same vision, and has delivered a fantasy land which collides with the real world and the truth of the story.
Finally, there is Play Virtual, Live Real, a play for students with a mind-set of 12+. The play's running time is about 15-20 minutes, depending on the students' abilities. There are very few props and actions, and the language used is as simple as possible, making it easy to read and remember lines and cues. It is perfect for a small drama or English group, and is designed to be presented to another group or as an assembly.
All the books are based on the real story of Breck Bednar, and any children accessing them will need appropriate support, due to the nature of the story. All come with worksheets which support a a six-week learning project.
You can purchase them via the Breck Foundation's website.
Follow Mark Harrington: @harrington_projects