Diversity & Children's Fiction
Updated: Jul 1, 2022
Care Experience & Culture book club event:
Via Zoom 25th June 2022
10am UK time / 6.30pm Adelaide / 7.00pm Melbourne
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to register
You can watch the Book Club Event here:
Dr Sarah Mokrzycki is a writer and artist living on Eastern Maar and Wadawurrung land.
She has a PhD on the importance of family diversity in picture books, and teaches creative writing and children’s literature at Victoria University. Sarah is a non-bio mum of three children from fostering backgrounds, and a passionate advocate of children at risk.
Sarah wrote and illustrated a family diverse book, while also researching the importance and benefits of inclusive children's literature - a first in Australia.
As Sarah writes: "Research shows that when children can’t see themselves in books, their sense of self-worth, their ability to form healthy friendships and their reading and educational development can all be obstructed. Relating to book characters is a vital tool that engages young children with literature. It connects them to the world, validates their personal experiences and helps forge a lifelong love of reading."
Despite the clear benefits, Sarah has found that Australia's diversity is rarely reflected in Australian picture books, and where such books do exist, they tend to be published overseas, often in the UK.
Jane Teather is a Reader and Home Educator living in Hertfordshire, UK
Jane will talk about diverse representations in children’s fiction in some of the books she has found that provide a more diverse world view for children and young people. Starting with the books she read as a child and young adult, moving on to multiculturalism and disability awareness thanks to working in the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), actively seeking out alternative voices for her children and finally continuing to find different viewpoints in recent fiction.
Jane was born in Guildford and adopted at ten days old. She grew up in a loving family that was for her, the right match. She was a reader from a young age – some of her earliest memoires are of books she borrowed from the local library: Miffy, Rev Awdrey stories and My Naughty Little Sister.
When Jane was nine they moved to Guernsey and she stayed there until she went to Brighton Polytechnic to study librarianship. Although initially she thought of working in a library because she loved books Jane quickly realised that it is more important to want to help people, and the books are a by product of this.
Trained as a librarian, her first professional job was in a further education college in London which was a cultural shock after Guernsey and Brighton. Thanks to ILEA, she quickly had her eyes opened to multiculturalism and other diversities and thrived working with students from 16 – 70.
In her early thirties she fell pregnant, and this was when her adoption finally caught up with her as she found she could not leave her baby for any length of time. The idea of going back to work made her want to sob and so with the full support of her partner she gave up paid employment and became a stay-at-home mum. This was, for her, a joyful act and one she has never regretted. Jane reads fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, poetry – anything that takes her fancy.