We’re back from a week in London where we took part in the annual Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre. As part of the ‘Everybody Into Books’ event, organised by Inclusive Minds, we set up a book-making station and had kids help us illustrate and write our books. And this year we also got them to turn us (and themselves) into their favourite characters – everything from hairy monsters to floating mermaids. We made over 20 books throughout the day and are now creating ebooks and uploading them to our Kids Library for you to view and download for free!
This was a special day for books. Inclusive Minds are committed to ensuring all children can access books and see themselves in stories and this event brought together organisations, like ours, that see inclusion as a priority rather than an afterthought. The organisers, Beth and Alex, assembled a panel that included some incredible, smart and articulate young people who openly discussed their experiences growing up in mixed race families and as transgender teens. They pointed out that few, if any, books published in the commercial sector reflect their own experiences and this invisibility can lead to feelings of profound isolation during childhood and adolescence.
Also on the panel was one of our idols, Charlie and Lola creator Lauren Child, who talked about her own approach and that rather than try to introduce diversity for its own sake, she tries to reflect real life and narratives that all children can relate to.
We came away from this day feeling completely energised by the insights of those who spoke, the creativity and enthusiasm of the kids who came and created books with us, and the potential we have to ensure diverse representations of people and circumstances in the characters and stories we create for kids. Until 2016 when we can Imagine again!