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Brief Published: 7 May 2021

Inclusive Scented Story Book Kits

Guide Dogs UK

British charity Guide Dogs, which assists people with visual impairments, has released scent kits for Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved book The Gruffalo. This launch highlights the importance of different sensorial stimuli in bringing stories and products to life, and how appealing to different senses can make experiences more inclusive.

The charity partnered with UK publisher Macmillan’s Children’s Books and London production company Magic Light Pictures to develop a series of scented inhalers to accompany The Gruffalo book. The inhalers are scented differently to represent each character in the story.

The mouse character has a cupcake-scented inhaler, while the fox inhaler smells like freshly cut grass. The owl has the aroma of warm, brewed tea, the snake a smoky smell, and the Gruffalo’s leathery scent evokes the deep forest. The charity worked with families and young people to decide which scents best suited each character.

For children with visual impairments, supplanting story visuals with scents makes for a more engaging experience and helps the narrative come alive. 

“We know that bedtime family reading is so important as a child,” says Guide Dogs’ children and young people national service operations manager Kerry Kernan. “We thought we could enhance this experience by letting children lose themselves in a sensory journey and share that with their whole family.” 

Currently, 28,000 children in the UK live with sight loss (Sky News, 2021). Designs need to wield a mix of different sensorial stimuli to be inclusive and appeal to this less catered-for population. For how technology is stepping up here, see Enhanced Interactions

As we explore in our Spotlight The Sensory Opportunity, sensorially engaging designs have broad appeal, making products more interesting, memorable and meaningful to all users. See Sensory Product for more.