Late in 2019, Better Reading was awarded a grant from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund to produce a 6-part podcast series, A Conversation on Diversity in Children’s Books. 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.
For this series, those people are Dr Randa Abdel Fattah, Will Kostakis, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Laura Bloom, Deborah Abela, Rachel Bin Salleh from Magabala Books.
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.
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.
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 author of a number of novels for children and adults, including Augustine’s Lunch, which was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Awards and shortlisted for the Young Australian Readers’ Awards, and In the Mood, which was shortlisted for the ABC Fiction Awards, and was a bestseller in France. Her titles with Walker Books Australia include Mika and Max and the Dream Riders series.
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.
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.