Have you listened to our 6-part series, A Conversation on Diversity in Children’s Books? With the support of a grant from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, Better Reading produced six podcast episodes, where we interviewed Dr Randa Abdel Fattah, Will Kostakis, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Laura Bloom and Deborah Abela about their experiences in publishing. We were also fortunate to speak to Rachel Bin Salleh from Magabala Books. These fascinating guests were able to share their thoughts on the importance of diversity in children’s books.
It was late 2019 when we received the grant, and could not have predicted what 2020 would bring. We now understand more than ever how little we know, and how important these conversations are. It’s a time for us to ask questions, and listen to the answers provided by people who are more knowledgeable than us on this subject.
Our 6-part series, A Conversation on Diversity in Children’s Books is perfect for parents, teachers, writers and for anyone interested in learning more about the importance of diversity and inclusion. Have a listen and tell us what you think.
In episode 1, Bestselling author and academic, Dr Randa Abdel Fattah talks to Cheryl about being Muslim in post 9/11 Australia, the lack of diversity in Australia’s school curriculum, and how it’s time for Muslim authors to be given a voice.
Dr Randa Abdel Fattah is a prominent Australian Palestinian advocate and a multi award-winning author of 11 books. She is well known for her commentary as a public intellectual, her media appearances and her essay and op-ed writing across a wide range of genres.
In episode 2, Maxine Beneba Clarke and Cheryl discuss growing up as a POC in Australia, what happens when a child is underrepresented in what they read, and how the publishing industry needs to diversify their content.
Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. Maxine’s short fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, The Age, Meanjin, The Saturday Paper and The Big Issue.
In episode 3, Will Kostakis talks to Cheryl about LGBTQ+ representation in schools, how diversity is constantly changing, and why we must get beyond ‘the struggle story’ when creating diverse stories for kids.
After dabbling in celebrity journalism and reality TV, Will Kostakis now writes for young adults. His first novel, Loathing Lola, was released when he was just nineteen, and his second, The First Third, won the 2014 Gold Inky Award. It was also shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year and Prime Minister’s Literary awards. The Sidekicks is his third and latest novel for young adults.
Laura Bloom is the mother of an autistic son who has an intellectual disability. Here Laura talks to Cheryl about the importance of disabled characters in books, and how both her and her son are active in the Every Australian Counts movement for People With Disability.
Laura Bloom is the author of eight critically acclaimed and bestselling novels for adults and children, and an award winning screenwriter for film and television. Her most recent novel, Mika and Max, about an unlikely friendship which springs up between a young girl and a boy with autism, is published by Walker Books and is on sale now. Her next novel, The Women and The Girls, will be published by Allen and Unwin in 2021.
In episode 5, Deborah Abela talks to Cheryl about the benefits of diversifying children’s literature, and her work with young people in Sydney’s west with organisations such as WestWords.
After completing a teaching degree, Deborah Abela went to Africa where she was caught in a desert sandstorm, harassed by monkeys and thrown in jail … twice! She produced and wrote a national kids’ TV show before leaving to write twenty-six books including the Max Remy Superspy and Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and Grimsdon, New City and Final Storm, about kids living in a climate-changed world.
In episode 6, Rachel Bin Salleh from Magabala Books talks to Cheryl about her journey to becoming a publisher, the importance of giving diverse authors a voice, and what the publishing industry can do to support those authors.
Rachel Bin Salleh is descended from the Nimunburr and Yawuru peoples of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. She has worked in publishing for over 20 years and is passionate about Indigenous people telling their stories. Rachel lives in Broome with her family. Alfred’s War is her first book.
Acknowledgment of Cultural Fund support
Better Reading acknowledges the support provided by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.