a good news story!
I worked with Chesterton School in Battersea Park during Book Week.
I really feel I must make a special mention of this exceptional school, which is giving a first class start in life to it’s wonderful and impeccably behaved pupils, in difficult social circumstances. It is an oasis of calm in a very urban estate, traffic thundering past, with light airy rooms and enthusiastic, committed teachers.
A huge thank you to Lucy Noguera of Brilliant Monsters who organised the week’s programme of events with great skill and thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and fun! It greatly enhanced the experience for us all.
There was an appetite and appreciation from the children for what I had to offer that made it the perfect author visit. At one point when I read aloud there was clapping at the end of every sentence! I was very touched – but quickly replaced full stops with commas and ‘and’ just so we could keep going.
I looked out at classrooms full of all different faces from all corners of the world, and thought what an asset to our capital these families are.
We were making mini-matchbox beds for Martha and her bunny brothers…
I do a lot of preparation, so that all the children can achieve success and make something precious to take home.
How proud they are of their work!
I was photographing their matchboxes when the children had gone out to play, and one small chap rushed back in wearing his coat and pointed – ‘LOOK! I MADE THIS ONE!’
Be very sure, there is no gender divide with these children, or these books or activities.
The boys are saying to me – have you got any of that pink sparkly ribbon with the hearts and flowers on? Or SSHH my bunny is sleeping!
The following day I was back in the same school and we were designing cars for a Dixie O’ Day event, and there were the girls designing cars with booster rockets and the odd weapon or two…
I didn’t even spot that there is a campaign about gender and children’s publishing until just now.
(I know, where have I been? Living in some sort of cave?)
Writers who are zealots make me uneasy. So I only say what I see. Publishers who haven’t caught on to this yet and are still marketing very separately to boys and girls are out of touch: there’s a golden opportunity with these young, open-minded folk. I fear it will be the boys who miss out most; girls are more likely to pick up any book, but I feel sad that the boys will feel, all too soon, that the pink sparkly ribbon is no longer for them.
So when I’m feeling brave… this is me feeling brave…
I say to my publishers – come on guys, lead from the front!