Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah: A Conversation on Diversity in Children’s Writing #1

Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah: A Conversation on Diversity in Children’s Writing #1

“In a multicultural, diverse society there are countless ways in which people negotiate the everyday lived experience and reality of diversity.”

– Randa Abdel-Fattah

Why is there still a lack of diversity in children’s books?

Late in 2019, Better Reading was awarded a grant from the Copyright Agency to produce a six-part series, A Conversation on Diversity in Children’s Writing. At the time we 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. In this episode, that person is Randa Abdel-Fattah.

Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, a prominent Australian Palestinian advocate, and a multi award-winning author of 11 books for children and young adults. Her books deal with intercultural relations, migration, race/religious issues in Australia, identity, belonging and political consciousness among young Australians, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Her bestselling debut novel, Does My Head Look Big in This? has sold more than 100,000 copies in Australia, is published around the world and had been adapted into a play. Her novel, Where The Streets Had A Name won Australia’s Golden Inky Award in 2009, an international award for teenage literature.

Randa regularly speaks at schools around the world, promoting awareness around diversity and social justice.

In this episode, Dr Abdel-Fattah and Cheryl discuss a post 9/11 Australia, her experiences as a Muslim Australian, the desperate need for diversity in the school curriculum, and how Australia can move into a more inclusive future.


Listen now




Acknowledgment of Cultural Fund support

Better Reading acknowledges the support provided by Copyright Agency.



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Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah: A Conversation on Diversity in Children's Writing #1

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7 August 2020

Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah: A Conversation on Diversity in Children's Writing #1


The slide opened and I heard a gentle, kind voice: What is your confession, my child? I was stuffed. The Priest would declare me a heretic; my parents would call me a traitor... The Priest asked me again: What is your confession, my child? I'm Muslim. I whispered.Welcome to my world. I'm Amal Abdel-Hakim, a seventeen year-old Australian-Palestinian-Muslim still trying to come to grips with my various identity hyphens.It's hard enough being cool as a teenager when being one issue behind the latest Cosmo is enough to disqualify you from the in-group. Try wearing a veil on your head and practising the bum's up position at lunchtime and you know you're in for a tough time at school.Luckily my friends support me, although they've got a few troubles of their own. Simone, blonde, gorgeous and overweight – she's got serious image issues, and Leila's really intelligent but her parents are more interested in her getting a marriage certificate than her high school certificate!And I thought I had problems...
Randa Abdel-Fattah
About the author

Randa Abdel-Fattah

Randa is a prominent Australian author, academic, human rights advocate, former lawyer and mother of four children. She has been nominated for Sweden's 2019 Astrid Lindgren Award, the world's biggest children's and young adult literature award (she was also nominated in 2018). The award-winning author of eleven novels, published and translated in over 20 countries, Randa writes across a wide range of genres and actively seeks to translate her academic work into creative interventions which reshape dominant narratives around race, human rights, multiculturalism and identity in popular culture. She has been publishing her op eds in Australia's national and international newspapers and journals since 1998. She has had regular appearances on Q&AThe DrumLateline and The 7.30 Report, and radio interviews (RN Drive, ABC Books and Arts, The Conversation Hour etc.).

Books by Randa Abdel-Fattah


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