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By Sophie Hallam*

Love Trumps Hate! Standing in the crowd on Duke Street, with cheers of protest spreading like a Mexican wave, it was a real buzz to join thousands upon thousands of protesters at the Women’s March in Central London last Saturday. Many of us have watched in horror to see Trump take the central stage in America and it felt good to have a chance to stand as one to speak against Trump’s inauguration.

Considering the impact of Trump’s presidency on the next generation, it was inspiring to see so many young children at the march. One image that has now gone viral is of a young baby holding up a sign in protest. Her scribbles speak a thousand words. You’re never too young to protest!

It made me think of my own childhood and the marches my mother would take me on. There was much to protest about in the 1980s – Anti-Apartheid marches, the Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament to name but a few. Like the baby in the photo, she wanted me to be aware of social injustices and she wanted to empower me to stand for change.

The books she chose for me were also part of this consciousness-raising. Books that stand out for me as a child are John Agard’s poem Happy Birthday, Dilroy! in I din do Nuttin’, Judy Corbalis’ The Wrestling Princess & Other Stories, and Tony Bradman and Eileen Browne’s In a Minute.

John Agard’s Happy Birthday, Dilroy! from “I Din do Nuttin'” illustrated by Susanna Gretz (Bodley Head Children’s Books, 1983)

In the ‘80s, there was a big movement in the children’s book world to promote and celebrate books which would counter and redress racism, sexism and negative portrayals of disability. The Working Group Against Racism in Children’s Resources was just one of the few organisations that fought for change (the lovely Anna McQuinn of Alanna Books played a big part).

Now, thirty or so years later, we’re still fighting and we’re still marching – and we’re still campaigning for diversity in children’s books. Movements such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks and organisations such as Inclusive Minds are as important as ever.

That’s why Tiny Owl’s ethos is so important to me. We want to create books that empower young children to think differently, more widely and more consciously. The award-winning The Little Black Fish was just the start… I Coloured in the World encourages children to take up their crayons in resistance; The Parrot and the Merchant is a beautiful tale from Rumi that speaks of freedom, and Trump would do well to read The Elephant’s Umbrella – a book about sharing.

We March, Shane Evans (Roaring Brook Press, 2012)

In celebration of the Women’s March and the continuing importance of books that empower young children, we’ve collated a selection of fantastic book lists that have been making the rounds. A recent favourite of mine is We March by Shaun Evans, a simple but inspiring book on the importance of marching – and of reading:

We’d love to hear what books speak to you! Let us know @TinyOwl_Books #booksforchange

 

*Sophie Hallam is Commissioning Editor at Tiny Owl Publishing.

At Tiny Owl, we publish books that we believe in and that speak for freedom, justice and human rights. You can buy some of our highlighted titles below:

Buy The Little Black Fish

Buy I Coloured in the World

Buy The Parrot and the Merchant

Buy The Elephant’s Umbrella

 

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