Changing the Narrative: A Systematic Review on the Effectiveness of Using Children’s Literature to Improve Peer Awareness of Additional Educational Needs in School-aged Children


  • Elle Drohan Trainee Educational Psychologist
  • Sinead Kelleher University College Cork


additional educational needs, special educational needs, children's literature, inclusion, educational intervention


Enduring barriers to meaningful inclusion and social exclusion experienced by students with Additional Educational Needs (AEN) may be partially linked to lack of peer awareness and understanding of AEN. Research suggests that using children’s literature including character portrayals of AEN may be an effective way of developing children’s understanding and acceptance, resulting in increased inclusion in educational settings. The aim of this systematic review is to explore the effectiveness of using children’s literature as an intervention to increase peer understanding of AEN in school-aged children.  The current review carried out a systematic search to identify eligible articles using pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Selected studies were assessed for quality and findings were synthesised to draw conclusions that may inform future practice, policy and research. Evidence of increased peer awareness of AEN was observed in four of the five studies following the use of children’s literature as an intervention. Increased peer awareness was reflected in increased positivity of peer attitudes and intended behaviours towards children with AEN. The review also highlights recommendations for using children’s literature as an intervention to increase peer awareness of AEN.


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How to Cite

Drohan, E., & Kelleher, S. (2023). Changing the Narrative: A Systematic Review on the Effectiveness of Using Children’s Literature to Improve Peer Awareness of Additional Educational Needs in School-aged Children. REACH: Journal of Inclusive Education in Ireland, 36(1). Retrieved from