Recently our publisher Delaram Ghanimifard visited Netley Primary School to introduce the pupils to Tiny Owl’s books and message. Find out what she got up to!
Last week I was invited to visit Netley Primary School in Euston to talk to the pupils about the story of Tiny Owl and our inclusive books. It’s an incredibly diverse school with an ongoing project about diverse books. The children are all aware of the urgent need to see themselves represented in the stories they read, and were appalled to discover the current lack of diversity – so much so that they’ve written some brilliant angry letters to authors and publishers asking them to address it. The school regularly invites authors and publishers in to talk about these issues, and I was the latest to meet their two Y6 classes.
It was wonderful to see the pupils’ eyes light up with inspiration as I spoke about our desire to introduce readers to stories from all over the world, rather than keeping to one single narrative or ethnicity. Several of the pupils themselves had parents from other countries, and I could tell from their expressions that they were incredibly excited. In fact, I wondered if the story of Tiny Owl might have just changed their lives. I had been told that one pupil had actually written a letter to Tiny Owl, and couldn’t believe her ears when she heard that I was coming!
I showed the pupils The Little Black Fish, When I Coloured In the World and Tahmineh’s Beautiful Bird as examples of our unique ways of introducing readers to new cultures and ideas. I also talked about our events with Ehsan Abdollahi, the wonderful illustrator of When I Coloured In the World and A Bottle of Happiness whose visa refusal we successfully campaigned to overturn this summer. This was a perfect opportunity to discuss the ideas of freedom of movement, visas and travelling, and I gave them their own Tiny Owl Passports to fill in, just as Ehsan did at his summer events for children.
As I walked between the tables watching the pupils drawing countries of hope, peace and freedom, I could see some beautiful ideas emerging: one pupil had drawn the city of London, while others had represented their religion as things that gave them hope and peace. It was wonderfully inspiring for me.
There was also a chance for the pupils to ask me questions, and they asked a huge number – everything from when Tiny Owl was started and what inspired us, to what languages I knew and how old I was!
The school was a wonderful place to be. Everyone there is clearly passionately devoted to books and reading; there are little nooks and corners for reading all over the school, from the playground to the classrooms to the corridors – everywhere!
They’re also very keen on wordless picture books, as they read one last half term. The pupils are working on a ‘book alphabet’, finding a reading-related word for every letter! Their ongoing book project is going to include an exhibition at the end of November, showing everything they’ve learnt, and now their Tiny Owl Passports will be included. I was overjoyed to be able to give the children so much inspiration and hope.
We would love to arrange an event for children in your school or library. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Find out more about Ehsan Abdollahi and his visit to the UK in summer 2017: events for adults and children in London and Edinburgh
- Read about the #visaforAbdollahi campaign: the visa refusal, the public outcry, and the campaign’s success
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