FROM YOUR EDITOR Launching Representation series

 

  


Words & Pictures Editor, Gulfem Wormald, introduces a new feature series promoting and celebrating equality, diversity and inclusion in children's literature.

 

I am very excited to launch a new series that focuses on equality, diversity and inclusion: Representation. We will celebrate writers and illustrators whose work tackles what may be perceived by some as sensitive and challenging themes, topics and issues.

 

I am excited because it is our duty to celebrate and promote these themes. It is our duty because it matters. It matters for a number of good reasons.

 

We see, we read, we believe

 

Seeing similar people to ourselves in society or in books makes us more visible, it validates our being, it roots us to this earth we exist upon. An underrepresented child may dream of becoming the leader of a country one day but if they see an example of it in real life or in a well told story, their dream will become a goal. Superhero movies such as Black Panther and Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings are not just for entertainment for Black and Asian people. They are a celebration of who they are, who they can be!

 

(Most) human beings are programmed to feel empathy for things that they have an emotional attachment to. The more they are able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, the more they care about what happens to those people. A good story is a powerful tool to create this level of empathy. One book, one story can be powerful enough to create a more tolerant, open minded and compassionate society.

 

My then seven-year-old son, for example, rooted for the Black Lives Matter protests because he was worried about the safety of his Black friends. My 16-year-old daughter never fails to call out homophobic behaviour at school because she cares about her gay friends. I will never dismiss anyone who is not from around here (whatever that means!) because having read stories like The Kite Runner, My Name is not Refugee and Boy, Everywhere, I truly understand what drove these families away from their homes.


I do believe that bad things have a bigger impact on us when they happen to people we know or identify with. Reading about diverse experiences from a young age can help develop empathy. 


There is an old Turkish saying, something along the lines of you can only bend and shape a young branch. An old tree would break. It is never too early to introduce young readers to the issues of equality, diversity and inclusion. It will shape their thinking, the way they behave, how they treat others around them and how they contribute to society.

 

Powerful stories stay with us

 

When I was in primary school, I read a book that changed my life. That story made me start to think about things I never had before. I vowed to myself that I would never ignore the suffering of another child, for example. This book taught me that mischief, helplessness, grief, pain, anger, compassion, disappointment, pride, love, hate, fear … none of these emotions exist in isolation. People are a lot more complicated than that.

 

It was My Sweet Orange Tree by José Mauro de Vasconcelos that changed my life. I learnt how grief tears you apart from Zeze, the protagonist in this story. I learnt from Zeze’s father that even an evil man may be suffering from unimaginable pain himself and maybe that was why he was “evil”.

 

This book taught me that if we understand diverse emotions, we may stand a chance of changing the narrative in real life for the better.

 

I hope you enjoy reading our Representation series. Do let me know what you think. Feel free to email or comment on the articles.



 




 


Gulfem Wormald
is the Editor of Words & Pictures. Contact: editor@britishscbwi.org. Twitter: @GulfemWormald

1 comment:

  1. Röportajınızı da giriş yazınızı da çok beğendim. Başarılarınızın devamını diliyorum.
    Çocukken kah gülerek kah çok çok ağlayarak okuduğum kitabı (şeker portakalı) 45 yaşında tekrar okudum. Evil dediğiniz baba sanırım. Kendini kaybedince gerçekten şeytan. Bununla beraber Vasconcelos o kadar güzel anlatmış ki babasının yumuşak kalbini, acısını… bir yandan da evil gibi gelmiyor.
    Öte yandan seçtiğiniz konu, holocaust, çok güzel bir başlangıç olmuş. Antisemitizmin çok arttığı ve bunun tamamen göz ardı edildiği bir dönemde bununla çıkış yapmanız hem cesaret hem de büyük övgüye değer. Başarılarınızın devamını diliyorum tüm kalbimle.
    Ben de 11 yıldır yüreğimin beni nereye götürdüğünü bulmaya çalışıyorum. Bana Ümit verdiniz. Teşekkür ederim. Sevgilerimle,

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