I recently had the pleasure of meeting Carmen and Kerry Haselup at the Inclusion event at the South Bank's Imagine Children's Festival. Carmen runs the Rhino Reads book blog, which celebrates the best in children's picture books. She has also set up four free libraries in needy schools under the Rainbow Libraries scheme.
Carmen and Kerry are champions for inclusiveness in children's literature. This means that they campaign for books to represent children from all sectors of society. It is something that I have become increasingly aware of as my own books have been published.
A couple of years ago, when I was working on Plunge into the Pirate Pool, I realised that all our characters were white, and that many of them were male. It reminded me of when I was a child, when all the characters I admired were male. All my cuddly toys were male. I was a tom-boy. I genuinely believed that boys were better than girls! It seems ridiculous to say it, but it's true!
So when I looked again at my own books, something just didn't feel right. So I made a point of asking Ed Eaves, illustrator of the Albie series, to include a female pirate amongst the crew. We also made sure our characters had a variety of skin colours. It was not a big thing. Just our way of being a bit, well, fairer, somehow.
Well it turns out that, actually, it IS a big thing. And in her recent blog, Carmen explains why.
Read what she has to say here:
Inclusion in How to Catch a Dragon